The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday

So 2011 is here with lots of new promising books – first book for Jan:

The GotL tells the story of Elizabeth and Michael a married couple who live a very staid, somewhat boring, existence.  Michael is a wealthy, and on the face of it, old fashioned, man with a flat in London and a house in Scotland which he inherited from his parents.  Elizabeth, settled for marriage with Michael, following the disappointment her mother experienced with her father.  She is more modern than Michael and continues to work in spite of the fact that it is no longer necessary, and she doesn’t really get overly involved in Michael’s outdoor activities or his time spent at Scotland or his Club.  Following a break in Ireland in which Michael imagines he sees the outline of a girl in a picture on the landing (although there is no girl present) he starts to change and Elizabeth sees a different and more enjoyable side to her husband and starts to enjoy the relationship more than she ever thought possible.  However, this new found happiness is very fragile and is all threatened by Michael’s past!

I thought this book was well written and captivating, it’s told in the two different voices of Michael and Elizabeth and I enjoyed this method of storytelling. Predominantly it is a story about mental health issues – or is it?  There are ‘ghostly’ aspects to the story and it can be quite chilling in parts as it steadily builds towards the final conclusion.  It reminds me of a number of different films and books which I won’t go into and is a combination between pyschological thriller and chilling ghost story.  However, it is difficult to write anything more without giving the story away.

My criticisms would be – firstly, telling the story in this way – I don’t quite understand how more revelations didn’t come out when you are reading Michael’s chapters?  I mean, he knows himself and in his own head he doesn’t have to hide or be somebody else – in fact the main premise is based on the concept of ‘you never really know anybody – except yourself’ – therefore I would have expected Michael’s chapters to maybe be a bit more revealling – or at least to change dramatically towards the end perhaps?  Secondly, I thought the inclusion of the Lamia in the story was really interesting, but, I wasn’t overly fond of the ‘open’ ending.  I guess this ending is intended to throw everything on it’s head and leave you wondering but for me it just left me with lots more questions.  In that case you have to really admire this book because even though I’ve finished reading I can’t stop going over theories in my own head about what was really happening!! (So, one minute, I’m adamant about what I think was going on – and the next the ending just throws it up in the air again!)

On the whole I thought this was an enjoyable read – personally, I would have preferred a bit more ‘spookiness’ thrown in, but I think PT does do a really good story telling job and a great job of tension building.

Rating B+

 

The Girl On The Landing

The Girl On The Landing

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