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Tom Houghton

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  27 reviews
As a boy growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tom Houghton escapes the harshness of the schoolyard by cocooning himself in the cinema of the golden age of Hollywood.

When he discovers that his favourite actress, Katharine Hepburn, modelled herself on her brother, Thomas Houghton Hepburn, Tom sinks deeper into his fantasy life. Determined to reveal his true identity
Paperback, 295 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Simon & Schuster AU
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  80 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Veronica ⭐️
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a, s-s, australian-author, 2015
Tom Houghton is narrated in two time frames. One being 12 year old Tom, a loner, constantly bullied at school but be it optimism or delusion he always feels certain he is destined for greater things. He is smarter than his peers, which also sets him apart. He lives with his mother, who is devoted to him but lives on a constant cycle of highs and lows and his Grandfather who thinks that Tom’s obsession with Hollywood is unhealthy but doesn’t quite know what to do with him. The other narrator is 4 ...more
Amanda Jane
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amanda by: NetGalley

Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander was an absolute delight to read, that will pull at your heart strings. The story is told from two alternating narratives, Tom Houghton as an adult, the other himself as a 12 year old boy. Through his story as a child we come to understand how Tom became the adult he is today.

As a boy growing up in the 1980's Tom lives in the Western suburbs of Sydney with his mother and grandfather. To say that Tom's family is dysfunctional would be an understatement. He is obsesse
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's not the usual type of book I would pick, however something about the blurb really drew me to it. The story alternates between the perspectives of 12 year old Tom and 40 year old Tom. I felt a lot of sympathy for 12 year old Tom and just wanted things to work out ok for him, though he didn't tend to do himself any favours. It was a struggle to like 40 year old Tom, though I loved the alternating perspective which gave insight into how Tom got to where was at age 4 ...more
☼♄Jülie 
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ☼♄Jülie  by: Self

Tom Houghton lived a very sheltered life, never knowing his father, he was raised from birth by his mum on her single income, they shared everything.
They were absolutely devoted to each other and shared a mutual love of the Arts.

Tom's Mum Lana worked three jobs on three shifts, in a butcher shop by day and a Pub by night, to try and make ends meet and give Tom the best she could.
They lived with Lana's elderly widowed father in his old house in Seven Hills, situated in the western suburbs of Syd
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tom Houghton is the second novel by Australian bookseller and author, Todd Alexander. At age forty, Tom Houghton is a stage actor, gay, alcoholic and occasionally dealing with a mentally fragile mother. A fairly successful run of a gender-reversed version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf sees him offered the same role for the play’s run in the Edinburgh. This experience, and the people he meets seem to precipitate a drunken meltdown in which he alienates many around him. It has him deeply consi ...more
Dec 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, bildungsroman, arc
As a child growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tom Houghton was an innocent boy with an obsession with classic cinema; an obsession that he inherited from his grandmother. His favourite actor was Katherine Hepburn. As a man who just turned 40 years old, Tom Houghton is a completely different person, bitter and jaded with the world. Tom Houghton is an exciting new coming of age story from Todd Alexander.

Told from the two different stages of life (twelve and forty) Tom Houghton offers an
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
‘It’s funny how art and friendships so seldom mix.’

In 1986, Tom Houghton is a twelve year old boy, growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney with his mother and grandfather. Tom is sufficiently different from most of the other boys to be an irresistible target to bullies. Tom’s escape from reality involves immersing himself in the golden age of Hollywood cinema. Tom reads biographies about the stars, and has made his own catalogue of different actors and their roles.

His grandfather encourages
Rowena Holloway
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully immersive novel about facing up to who you are, and who you are not, Tom Houghton will keep you reading late into the night.

At twelve Tom Houghton knows he is different and embraces it. When his peers are playing footy Tom is inside building his catalogue of movie stars and reading biographies. At forty, Tom has channelled that difference into acting, yet he is less sure of who he really is now than he was at twelve; he’s become more difficult than different and the cracks are beg
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was so very fortunate to have received an advance copy of this, at the request of the author himself.

[ This review was originally posted on my blog: ]

(This is the unedited version of a review I wrote during my time at Better Reading.)

Why we love it: The more we got to know Tom Houghton, the more we liked him, even in spite of his faults. Cleverly crafted and with characters that walk straight off the page, Todd Alexander's second novel is a masterpiece
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
*DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

The thing that stood out most for me while reading Tom Houghton was the realness of it, and there’s an intimacy to it that comes from being able to look so closely at a person’s life from the perspective of both their childhood and adulthood – that I think makes Tom Houghton quite a confronting book to read.

We move between two narratives, beginning with Tom as an adult and then shifting to him as a twelve yea
Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
Tom Houghton is twelve years old. He is different and the others know it. Some tiptoe around it, whisper loudly about it, some bully him mercilessly, and very few embrace him for it.

Fast forward to Tom Houghton at forty. The book unfolds as we wind our way through time; from that little boy growing up in 70’s Sydney, to Tom’s adult life, which has become an extraordinarily fucked up mess.

Very few books give me a book hangover, and I had not found a book this year which I fully immersed myself in
Tony Peck
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
An intriguing and well written story of a boy who is bullied and in turn at times torments others. Complicated by a wrestle with sexual identity and personal confusion, this is an interesting read. The story is told through the eyes of the eponymous star alternatively as a boy and a man

Obsessed with his namesake, he makes bad decisions, lives and struggles with them, ultimately getting some sort of equilibrium ( well of a sort)

This is a very readable novel with truly competent writing and recomm
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well written powerful read which both moved me and disturbed me. The story is about 12 year old Tom (who I really felt sorry for) and 40 year old Tom (who I found hard to like) and it covered bullying, dysfunctional family dynamics, mental health issues and identity issues.
Sam Still Reading
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of childhood based stories
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: from the publisher
Tom Houghton has a gorgeous sparkly cover, but don’t start thinking that the inside is going to be all sparkly and gorgeous. The cover hides a story with a dual narrative (and what a sucker I am for those) that’s all about the same character, in his childhood and as an adult in the present day. If you’re a Katharine Hepburn fan, you might be familiar with the name Tom Houghton. (If you’re a huge Hepburn fan, you might even have an inkling about why silver sequins are on the cover). But this is n ...more
Graeme Aitken
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some readers may remember an earlier novel from Todd Alexander - 'Pictures of Us' - published back in 2006. Now almost a decade later, Todd has a new novel out and it has certainly been worth the wait. Tom Houghton explores the titular character at different ages, although there is more focus on Tom as a 12-year-old schoolboy, who is obsessed with Hollywood films and film stars. He utterly fails to fit in with the other boys at school and hides from them during recess, occupying himself by readi ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Escaping the school yard bullying and the dramas of home, young Tom Houghton turns to golden age of Hollywood cinema. Whereas older Tom Houghton has turned 40, is starring in a gender role reversal of ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’ and struggling with his identity.
I was provided with a copy from NetGalley for a review.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and its complexity. The story is told by 12 year old Tom ad 40 year old Tom and the cross over in narrative is easy to follow. Older To
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really really enjoyed this book. It was a bit of a slow burn for me. By the time I got to the end I was hooked. Some may bemoan its lack of 'bitchy' witticisms. But this book was never going to have that. It is really about the process of belonging, how that can go wrong for a person and the veneer we use to disguise the pain associated with that. So it would not have made sense to have it full of such witticisms, as I think they would have detracted from the ultimate story and render the main ...more
Chloe Stam
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
"Tom Houghton" by Todd Alexander portrays a complex and deeply flawed character unable to shake off the experiences of a miserable childhood and broken, unstable family. In his early school years Tom Houghton dives into his imagination, his concept of his own identity becoming part-fantasy, to the detriment of the reality around him. Todd Alexander did not shy away from exploring the messy aspects of human nature, including our awkward sexual awakenings and the mistakes we make over and over des ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Tom Houghton grows from a troubled boyhood to a troubled adult. He tries (successfully) to hide the bullying at school from his mother, Lana (after Turner : real name Trish), who has "spirals" of her own - usually leading to a spell in psychiatric care. To obliterate his soul destroying school life, and the frequent absences of Lana, Tom escapes into a fantasy world of Hollywood, and in particular Katharine Hepburn, who, coincidentally, had a brother named Tom Houghton Hepburn, who committed sui ...more
Irene (thefictionthief)
*I received this ARC via Netgallery in exchange for an honest review*

Honestly, it's not as if this was horrible or anything, it just didn't really capture my attention or interest me very greatly. I feel bad reviewing this based only on the third or so of it I read, because generally I try to give fair reviews based on entire books, but the fact I was basically forcing myself to get through this speaks for itself.
I was also rather disappointed in the lack of Australian-ness about it. I love Aus
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book. I found it hard to put down. Tom Houghton tells his own story in two time frames. One when he is 12 and the other when he is 40. At 12 he is enamoured by film and finds a "special connection" with Katherine Hepburn. Through his single and battler mother, we see immense love in the midst of social and emotional dysfunction. He struggles with his sexuality and because he is "different", he is bullied at school. (These scenes are quite heart-wrenching). At 40 he has an esta ...more
Graham Crawford
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was not a bad book - just not appealing to me. The main character is real enough - just not likeable. The first person prose style is unsophisticated bordering on the suburban. For this novel to work for me, I'd have needed more bitchy wit from the evil old queen protagonist -- or at least a wiser narrative sense hovering above the petty actions of the story teller. I suspect it's the sort of book that will find good friends in the gay lit ghetto but it's not quite there for me as a "good r ...more
Libby Armstrong
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There's a bit of Tom Houghton in all of us, which is what makes this stunning novel by Todd Alexander a must read. Self absorbed, self destructive, yet incredibly resilient in spite of several disturbing emotional and physical events in his childhood, Tom holds up a mirror to the reader to examine their own attitudes and defense mechanisms. Alexander is a gifted storyteller which enables him to deftly weave even the most confronting and uncomfortable events into this engrossing and hard-to-forge ...more
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A moving and tragic story about finding out (the hard way) who you really are. Fast paced and vivid characters. The gritty details adds realism that makes reading their suffering even more intense. Tom will linger in my memory for years to come.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Review to follow closer to publication date.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to people who enjoy Christos Tsiolkas!
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not what I expected but pleasantly surprised. A talented new Australian author.
Carol Jones
rated it it was ok
Mar 15, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jun 28, 2016
Dan Ruffino
rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2019
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Todd Alexander was born in 1973 and has been writing for over 20 years. His work has been published in magazines and periodicals and his first novel, Pictures of Us was published in 2006. How to Buy and Sell on – The Official Pocket Guide has sold in excess of 30,000 copies.

In 2010, an advanced guide to eBay How To Make Money on eBay was published by Allen & Unwin, followed in 2011 by

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