Hailed as the ‘Gone Girl’ of 2015, Paula Hawkins’ ‘The Girl of the Train’ was the best selling thriller of last year that took the world by storm. 12 months on it has since been made into the must see film of 2016 with Emily Blunt in the lead role. I was lucky enough to meet the author Paula Hawkins at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2015, and it was really great to find out more about her and how the book came about.
One of my all-time favourite books! You may have heard of it, as into a hideous ITV drama a few years ago which was a total mess. I do recommend giving it a read as it is truly gripping and thought-provoking.
Like the bestseller Gone Girl, The Poison Tree has two narratives, this one flicks between the past (Karen aged 21) in the summer of 1997; and the present (Karen aged 31) when her partner Rex comes out of jail for murder.
After reading the super-hyped Gone Girl and few years ago I had to go and read Gillian Flynn’s earlier books Dark Places and Sharp Objects. While Dark Places was interesting I didn’t connect well with the protagonist and although I was curious on how it ended didn’t enjoy it enough to want to re-read again and again. Sharp Objects on the other hand gripped me from start to finish.
Amy Adams has been announced to star in the TV adaption of the book due to come out in 2017, so if you haven’t read it yet I recommend that you do. The story follows Camille Preaker, a journalist who travels back to her small deep-south town to report on a recent missing child. Camille faces many of her past demons by returning home including the strained relationship with mother Adora and half-sister Amma, her misspent teenager years, and the death of her 10 year old sister Marion. When the missing girl is found dead, with her teeth missing, she teams up Detective Richard to find out more about the story and investigate the murder of the last missing child in the town. Who is this child killer? Why are they taking the children’s teeth?
The Cheltenham Literature Festival is one of the biggest literary highlights of the year. I was lucky enough this year to not only go, but have in put into some of the events this year. So grab a cuppa while I run through all the action from the literary legends, beautiful bloggers, starry celebs and of course lots and lots of books!
So back in March I was asked to be in the 18-24 years old advisory panel for the Cheltenham Literature Festival. It was such a great honour to the chosen and it was so much fun working with the organisers of the festival and with the other girls on the panel.
To say thank you for being part of the panel we were all given backstage passes to the festival and free tickets for one full day. So along with getting to see as many events as we could for free were also got access to the Writers’ Room, where all the authors, guests and speakers hang out in before and after their events.
Looking fabulously chilled out in her leopard print fur coat and wine Caitlin Moran’s show talked about the evolution of celebrity culture and how journalist writer about them (now that they can’t hack phones) and her feelings toward the ‘do-nothing’ celebrity.
Meeting Jason Isaac (Lucius Malfoy) in the Writers’ Room
My other idol I got the pleasure of meeting and seeing was the wonderful Matthew Bourne, having taken ballet lessons when I was tiny, I think it’s very little girls dream to be a ballerina (for whoever short a time). Charming and so approachable, Bourne talked about how it is his love of musical theatre that fuels this passion and creativity in ballet. He said how he would love to see ‘Dance’ rather than ‘Ballet’ be discussed as a whole as all forms of dance and movement come together under the same prestige. I think when much of the ballet is seen as archaic and dated, this fresh take on how ballet can evolve is inspiring. While Bourne found his medium in ballet and dance his creativity and flair is one that can be translated across mediums. His work takes inspiration for film, movie soundtracks, musical theatre and all forms of dance, as some who is a patron to arts and a whole not simply ballet.
Meeting Ranulph Fiennes with Ella and Caitlin Moran
lots of love
So an obvious choice, and if you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years and aren’t away of this literature and film craze shame on you. It’s still one of my favourites and is still one I go back to over and over again.
It’s hard to talk about Gone Girl without giving too much away, as there a few major plot twists that come out of no where to shock the reader. This is why it has become so popular and such a huge success. Ben Affleck started in the 2014 film, and it was a very true to the book, although I think the biggest twist is still better in the book.
The narrative follows Nick search and the police investigation following the disappearance of Amy on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary. This alternates with every other chapter being told from Amy’s point of view through her diary entries of her life with Nick, from the day they met, as well her thoughts of men and women.
I’m a huge fan of plot twists like in films Fight Club, Se7en and Momento (no spoilers here, don’t worry) so when I heard Gone Girl had a great one I was sceptical at how good was it going to be and was I going to figure it out. I did not and didn’t have it spoilt for me so it was complete shock! You flip flop between who you like loathe and who you sympathise with and keep guessing right until the climax.
Critics of the book has said they disliked both Amy and Nick as they are unlikeable characters. Flynn has said in interviews that you are not meant to like Nick or Amy, and both characters have terrible qualities about themselves, but this make it interesting to learn about them. (So if at first you don’t like them, don’t worry your not meant to, but they are so fun to read about). Also many felt the ending was unsatisfying, but then this is dealt with in the film if you need better closure.
My final thoughts are that I love discussing this book with people who have read it because reading it as a man and as a women is a totally different experience, which is not covered in the film. It really goes in to depth about men and women’s relationships with each other and what to expect when going into marriage.
Again another biggie that you shouldn’t have missed but if you have check it out.
This was JK Rowling’s secret book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, which had publishers who had declined her kicking themselves when it was revealed to be her. The second in the series Silkworm came out few year later, and I sadly thought it was a disappointing and dull. (So give the first one a read and maybe skip the second, review to come on the third one)
Cuckoo’s Calling follows the investigation to the famous supermodel, Lula Landrys death (a Kendel Jenner/Cara Delevigne-esq character). Convinced her sucide was murder, her adopted from John hires ex-army turn private detective, Command Strike to investigate.
Strike’s backstory, as the illegitimate son of a 70s rock legend, his beautiful but deadly ex-fiancee and his troubles in Afghanistan, make him a rich and detailed protagonist which make you compelled to follow.
The case its self deals with issues of celebrity, and ask the question who was the real Lula Landry who died that night? Was she a selfish spoilt party girl, a depressed suicidal druggy, a loving daughter and sister, a girl struggling with her identity.
We meet many rich and influential friends, her druggy musician boyfriend, fashion designer best friend, bereaved brother who all tell different stories who the real Lula was and what really happened. But who is telling the truth?
The book has a great set of characters, who are rich in detail and really interested (even if you don’t like them.) I really enjoyed the idea and themes of fame, and the ‘relationship’ the public they feel they have with celebrities based on unreliable media account. Every character has a piece of the puzzle and no character is irrelevant.
This is probably is big one, is the end reveal. I can’t go into it without giving away spoilers, but the reason why things were done seemed a bit mundane when compared with everything else. That being said it is still very enjoyable and I’ve re-read it a few times.
Both these are available at Waterstones and if you’ve read any of them and loved them/hated them, let me know in the comments below.