Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #49: Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

Number of pages: 448

At the start of this book, its heroine, Lisa, is face-to-face with a man on the titular Platform Seven. A train is coming, and suddenly the man walks towards the platform edge and jumps in front of the train. It's quite a bleak opening to the book, in which you suddenly learn that Lisa is herself a ghost.

This is a book that I'd read about and I thought it was going to be all about Lisa finding out what happened to her; all we know is that she died on the railway tracks at the same station; it is not made clear whether she was pushed, she committed suicide or if something else happened.

The book is entirely narrated by Lisa, and has her observing living people, and other ghosts who also inhabit the station and its surroundings; there is an implication in the book that we are surrounded by ghosts that we cannot see all of the time; its an image that put me in mind of one scene from Dickens' Christmas Carol.

The book also flashes back to Lisa's past, and her relationship with a man called Matty, and this was where it started to feel like a mixture of two books I read earlier this year, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. It appears that Matty is insecure and very controlling of his wife, though not to the shocking extent portrayed in Behind Closed Doors. It starts with Matty checking Lisa's phone while he thinks she's not watching, and then bullying her and even saying that she doesn't care about his feelings. For a while I wondered if the truth was that Lisa was just mentally ill and that Matty was just caring for her (it becomes clear though that Matty is just a jerk).

There were other characters too, and some of their stories eventually dovetailed together with other plotlines seen in the book, in ways that I did not expect, most notably the storyline involving a young man who Lisa observes in the station cafe, and follows along the street. The individual plotlines almost felt like separate stories in their own right.

I thought this book was okay, although when the truth about what happened to Lisa was revealed, it wasn't too surprising what happened - I was hoping for some unexpected plot twist.

The overall tone of this book is very bleak, with the large number of suicide references, but the final chapter was very enjoyable, and bittersweet, as it bought all of the storylines to a conclusion, in a very poignant manner. There was also a flash-forward, which proved to be quite satisfying, all caused by Lisa apparently having the ability to see into the future.

I'd probably read more novels by Louise Doughty.

Next book: Milkman by Anna Burns
Tags: book review, british, contemporary, dark fantasy, drama, fantasy, fiction, ghosts, gritty, magical realism, mental health, paranormal, supernatural, thriller, urban fantasy

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