This Little Bag of Dreams

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,/How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Month: January, 2015

Win a copy of The Girl on the Train

Earlier today, I reviewed the brilliant The Girl on the Train here. If you’d like to win a proof copy of this fabulous debut, just post a comment below about why you’d like to win. Comments must be posted by midnight Sunday 1st February. I will choose the winner Monday 2nd February.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Rachel gets the same train to work and the same train back every day. So far, so ordinary. Often, she treats herself to a mini bottle of wine to celebrate that Friday feeling. And that’s ok, isn’t it? She’s had a long day at work. But then, the wine and miniature cans of G & T start to appear more regularly, and one starts to wonder what Rachel is doing in London, and why she has an obsession with ‘Jason’ and ‘Jess’, the couple she watches from the train.

For Rachel is anything but your average commuter. Her weekends pass in a blur of booze, bad daytime TV and constant attempts to contact her ex husband, Tom. Clearly lonely and lost, she is an incessant source of frustration to her housemate, Cathy, who is just as in the dark as the rest of Rachel’s increasing small circle about what she actually does in London during the week. (But frankly, the fact that Cathy welcomes every Saturday by hoovering the house tells you everything you need to know about her.)

Who are ‘Jess’ and ‘Jason’? Why is Rachel so obsessed with them? And what does she see from the train which so shocks and angers her?

The end, when it comes, is eye-openingly, gaspingly good. I absolutely loved this debut and cannot wait to see what Hawkins will do next.

Advantages of the Older Man by Gwyneth Lewis

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On receiving this boldly green book, I was rather curious as to its content. Its retro cover, along with the shocked face of the lady on the front, suggested to me a saucy seaside tale of age gap romance. This just proves, dear reader, that one should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Jennie has returned to her hometown of Swansea, tired of the squalid East London bedsits she has been inhabiting. Despite her lack of interest in her town’s most famous export, she gets a job at the local Dylan Thomas museum. She also joins a local poetry society, where she quickly develops an obsession with Peter, who does not reciprocate her affections. Desperate to win him over, she dresses up as a Muse at the carnival. When this fails, she and a friend summon the ghost of Dylan Thomas (obviously!), who will surely make an excellent matchmaker.

This novella is charming and bizarre in equal measure. I found the writing overwrought at times, but perhaps this was deliberate on Lewis’s part, in order to reflect Jennie’s eccentricities which isolate her from her peers. Yes, I guessed the twist, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the odd couple’s escapades, including joining a funfair and a flight to New York.

Many thanks to Seren Books for the review copy.