‘The Girl on the Train’, ‘The Light Between Oceans’ & ‘When will there be Good News?’ – recommendations for holiday reading

Travelling gives me the time and space to do the things I always think I haven’t got the time to do. Like reading. Thought I’d do some quick reviews of the books I’ve read so far, in case anyone is looking for some ideas for books to read.

‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the train

The term ‘page-turner’ might’ve been invented for this book. I read it in 24 hours. I loved the book and can understand why it has been such an international best-seller.

It has recently come out in the cinema, with Emily Blunt in the main role. So as a quick precis of the plot, the main character is an alcoholic, divorced, London commuter. Sound fun so far? Well she loves to look into the houses by the railway line on her journey to and from work. One house she becomes particularly obsessed with, especially the couple who live there, who she imagines have a perfect marriage, a life she wants for herself following her recent divorce.

One day she thinks she sees the woman kissing another man, and this starts a chain of events, involving her ex-husband, his new wife, the police and the couple themselves, that quickly snowballs out of control.

It’s a really fast-paced novel, with twists, turns, unlikeable characters and bucketloads of suspense. Hence why I couldn’t put it down. I’m seeing the film tonight at the cinema, am hoping it’s as good as the book, though having seen the trailer, I see it has been relocated to the US, which is a shame.

‘The Light Between Oceans’ by M.L. Stedman

The light between oceans

This is another book which has been a big seller around the world, and which has also been made into a film. Like ‘The Girl on the Train’, I also could not put it down, and read it in just a few days.

It’s historical fiction, a genre I admire, as an author has to work so much harder to get the facts right so that the feeling of the book is authentic. The main narrative of the book is set after WW1, in rural Australia, specifically Western Australia, and more specifically on what I think is a fictional island called Janus, on a remote lighthouse.

I won’t give too much of the plot away, just to say that it focuses around a childless couple who have their prayers answered one day when a baby arrives on their island. The couple then have to decide what to do with the child. The plot is really interesting and unique, and I loved all the historical detail that’s included, particularly the insights into how returning soldiers from WW1 coped with the trauma they witnessed.

‘When Will There be Good News?’ by Kate Atkinson

When will there be good news?

A mother and her young family are ruthlessly and inexplicably slaughtered one day, and only one person survives, the youngest daughter. This is how the novel begins, and it then jumps ahead in time, weaving together a series of what seem like random storylines, that all become entwined.

There’s Dr Hunter and her teenage mother’s help, Reggie, her small-time criminal brother, Billy, recently married Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe, recently separated private detective Jackson Brodie and a whole cast of supporting characters. What at time seem like disconnected events all culminate in a spectacular finale.

I have never read Kate Atkinson before, but had heard of her award winning novel ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’. She is a great writer, spinning out her characters with great depth, and pushing the pace on so that you can’t wait to find out what happens next, and what became of the survivor of the original murder.

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