Published by: Doubleday; First Edition (15 Jan. 2015)
I'll steer clear of spoilers here as I know that there are still a few people who have not yet read this book! It made it on to my extensive to be read pile for a couple of reasons. First, I'd just invested in a Kindle and was wanting to try it out when an offer came through to purchase it for £1.79. Secondly, I wanted to read something current. There was a discussion going on and I was keen to join in.
The book's premise is, by now, fairly well known. It is written primarily from the viewpoint of Rachel, a woman in her early thirties who spends a serious amount of time staring out of the window of a train during her daily commute into London. She passes this time building up a fantasy world around the people she sees by way of compensation for the things that are lacking in her own life.
It is written in the first person, present tense, and it may take a few pages to adapt to this if it is not what you are used to. But that is as long as it will take, I promise. The immediacy of the writing, the access it gives to Rachel's thoughts, quickly drew me in and I could not rest until every layer of character and plot had been revealed.
At the heart of the book there is a mystery which unravels through the multiple viewpoints of three different women (although we stay largely with Rachel) and it is the combination of this mystery and the detailed and realistic way in which the characters are drawn which had me racing through to the end. The intimacy which was developed with the characters really took hold, pulling me into their world and compelling me to finish the book in just three days when really I should have been doing other things. It has been a while since that has happened to me and I was glad of it.
After finishing the book and posting my review on Goodreads, I read through some of the other comments. Inevitably there were plenty of one and two star reviews alongside the many five star appraisals (my own included). The main problems the detractors had were:
1) There were no nice/good/admirable characters. True, perhaps, but it didn't bother me. Most characters in most books are flawed in some way and the first person narrative really shows up every weakness a character has. I wonder how many people we would like in real life if we had access to their every thought?
2) The ending was predictable. I disagree with this. It was guessable, certainly, but that is part of the book's appeal and there were so many suspects and red-herrings that there could have been any number of viable endings. Yes, I had my suspicions and ultimately I was right, but I still needed to know how it would resolve and I would not have felt cheated had it ended in a different way.
So, in summary, a five-star (if uncomfortable in places) read for me based on devourability (new word I've just made up, there), excellent writing and the cleverness on the part of the author in dragging me, cringing, into Rachel's rock-bottom world.
So my first post...
I've been putting this off for a while, going over and over in my head what I should say to get my blog up and running. Should I introduce myself? Set out my mission statement for the year (do I even have one?)? Or should I post a book review? After all, it was meeting some lovely and inspiring book bloggers on Twitter which has encouraged me to give book blogging a go.
I guess it doesn't really matter how I start, it's more important that I ACTUALLY START! Let's face it, I'm a little late to the party - how many people are going to read this post? My Mum and Dad and my brother, if I am lucky. I suppose it's more for me; to see if I can do it and for the enjoyment of recording my thoughts on the books that I read and the ones that I am creating.
I wanted to call my website 'About a Book', hence the strange little logo thingy that is hanging around on some of the pages, but that domain name is already taken. It still sums up this blog, though, as it is going to be about whatever pages have engaged me that day, whether it be reading the work of another or toiling away happily on some of my own. I've joined Goodreads and have set up a list of books to be read. It would be great to see you over there. My list is eclectic and I can't wait to get stuck in. If you have any recommendations, please do pass them along.
In terms of my writing, I do have a plan. I have now completed eight supernatural stories which will make up my first book, 'Into Dust' (to be self-published in the Autumn). The stories vary in length and tone but each has a supernatural element. I am still surprised that I have found myself writing in this genre and enjoying it so much but I find the atmosphere, the darkness and light, truly absorbing. I hope this comes across in the stories. I will post extracts on the 'Into Dust' page soon. At the moment it contains cover design ideas - do pop over and let me know which one you prefer.
Some of my earlier (non-supernatural) stories are available as pdfs on the 'Other Things to Read' page. I hope to post more as I go along including work from other people as it would be great to give others some exposure if I get enough readers through. In the meantime, I am aiming for a release date of early/mid September for the book and I'll publish some posts on how I find the process, highlighting any tips or tricks I discover. And if anyone out there has any advice please, please do share. I'm a little apprehensive - some say it is easy, others say differently. Either way, there are going to be decisions to make, hurdles to leap and a lot of coffee drunk along the way.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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