by Sarah Rayner.
Lou, on the 7.44 Brighton to London train, witnesses a man dying across the aisle from where she’s sitting. Turfed off the train with everyone else, Lou shares a cab with Anna, a fellow passenger from a different carriage, who is trying not to let the inconvenience sully her compassion for the dead man, or the wife Lou has mentioned. Their taxi has reached Clapham before Anna gets a call from her best friend Karen, to say Karen’s husband Simon has died that morning, on the 7.44 to London.
Simon’s death triggers massive change, not just for Karen and their children, but also for Anna, as she reappraises her own relationship, with Steve, her boyfriend of four years. And then there’s Lou, who encourages the teenagers she counsels to open up to her, but who hasn’t even opened up to her own mother.
A compelling story, which had me both laughing out loud and dabbing away the tears. Rayner’s characterisation is faultless – every reader will know these people, or people very like them. She has you grieving for them, and rooting for them, and praying it will all come right.
Note: I worked with this author on a number of separate (non-fiction) titles. There was no expectation for me to read this novel, let alone review it, and I have done both by choice, and with pleasure.