The Staircase is a tale of friendship and of family ties and what can happen when these are put to the test. Set in the west of Scotland in the nineteen-fifties, it tells the story of two friends, Edward and James, who live in a small industrial town that lies close to a major city and not far from the coast.
Edward is a bright and athletic eleven-year-old, who is doing very well at school and, in his spare time, is frequently winning trophies on the running track but, despite all of this, he is slowly having to come to terms with the fact that, in his father’s eyes at least, he is a failure and a disappointment. James is fortunate in that he leads a more relaxed existence. He, like Edward, is doing well at school and, in his spare time, enjoys being a member of the football club. Unlike Edward, however, he is fortunate in that he is accepted by both of his parents for who and what he is.
The boys are preparing for the end of the school year and an imminent move to secondary school following the school holidays. They are both looking forward to making this move together. James, however, is uneasy, haunted by something that he has seen that makes him concerned for Edward’s welfare. Sworn to secrecy by Edward, he is unable to talk to his parents about it and his concern grows when he learns that Edward has been keeping a secret from him It is a secret that, ultimately, leads them both into danger.