The Bus on Thursday

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

The Bus on Thursday was weird in all the best ways. Funny, honest, and downright bizarre. Barrett does a great job of putting you inside the narrator's head. You almost don't realize how strange things have become until you're in the thick of it. 

I loved the casual blog-style writing that the narrator used. It lets her unique voice come through in a strong way. There are moments where you need to suspend belief that the narrator would stop amid all the chaos to write a blog post - but it's something that's easy to look past.
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I will be honest and admit that this is a hard book for me to review.  On one hand, I loved it.  The main character, Eleanor, is snarky and sarcastic and since the book is told from first-person blog form, the reader gets plenty of her attitude.  On the other hand though, it kind of has am ambiguous tone to it.  Is all the crazy stuff really happening or is Eleanor slowly falling off her rocker?

Shortly after being dumped by her boyfriend of four years, Eleanor learns she has breast cancer.  After over a year of treatment, she is ready to move on and lands the job of a lifetime as a teacher in the small community of Talbingo.  However, things quickly become very weird and before long, Eleanor is having late night sexual encounters with one of her student's brothers and the local friar is trying to exorcise her of the demon which caused her cancer. 

As I mentioned, I really liked Eleanor but let's be honest, there's a whole lot of crazy going on in this book.  I can see where some might become easily irritated with Eleanor and her foul mouth and moods, but I didn't and I was really cheering her on.  There is a small mystery as to what happened to the original teacher Eleanor replaced and I would like to say I now know what happened, but I don't.

I'd say this book is pretty light on horror but deep down, it may have deeper horror roots than originally thought.  So am I confusing you?  Welcome to the bus.  However, even with all this, I really enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down.

I do feel if people like their books tied up in neat little packages (even if those packages contain a severed head or are dripping blood), then "The Bus on Thursday" might not be the best book to pick up this Halloween season.  But if you are even remotely interested, hop in, strap on your seatbelt and prepare for a bumpy ride.
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Eleanor Mellett is having a bit of a crap life. She had a bad breakup and survived breast cancer, fighting all of the demons that came along. Eleanor wants to get away and start over, luckily finding that the town of Talbingo has a teaching position open. The last teacher, Miss Barker vanished in the middle of the night and no one knows why, even though Miss Barker was loved by all in the town (a fact that Eleanor is sick of hearing about). But Eleanor finds that the whole town of Talbingo is strange, from the friar to the shop owner and everyone in between. What is really going on in Talbingo? And why are there so many locks on the front door? Is Eleanor going crazy? Is she in hell? 'The Bus on Thursday' leaves the ending open for interpretation and some may not like that but I loved the hell out of it. This book was a crazy ride and was incredibly difficult to put down. This may not be a book for everyone but if you're looking for a mix between super weird, unsettling, yet hilarious, look no further. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the chance to check this one out early!
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When this book was described as "Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist," I was immediately intrigued. And it's been a while since I've read a good humorous horror novel. I was surprised by how much I liked Eleanor. She's a dynamic, flawed character who is both entertaining and relatable. And I'm glad the story was more creepy than terrifying; I think it worked really well. (Although I could see some people complain about it being more Bridget Jones than The Exorcist.) If you're in the mood for a weird, funny, and memorable read, I would definitely recommend this book.
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The description of "Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist" caught my attention. I have never read Bridget Jones's Diary (or seen the film) and I've never even read any chick lit but I am a horror fan so I thought this might be a fun read with a horror edge. The main character is very snarky and sarcastic and while ordinarily I like that kind of humour it just fell flat for me in this case. I found her irritating and it felt like the writing was meant to be way funnier and more clever than it actually was. There are a couple of strange occurrences that take place in the story which had me intrigued enough to keep reading for a while but they were few and far between, while the rest of the story really dragged and I found myself skimming the story until something interesting happened. I hit 40% and decided not to continue. After a quick look at the glowing reviews already online for this book, I realised that people loved the main character and found her hilarious. Because I didn't feel the same way I was clearly missing a huge part of the appeal of this book. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
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Yes. 100% yes. I loved this so, so much.

Eleanor Mellett’s life is in turmoil. A bad breakup, crappy friends and all of this is followed by cancer. 

Now - this isn't a sad book about a woman and cancer. This is a hilarious book with some weird, The Shining type moments. 

Eleanor discovers a teaching position in Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their former teacher, Miss Barker, disappeared without a trace. It's the perfect chance to restart her life - even though Talbingo is a little creepy. There's no internet service, no cell services, a small strange woman who invite Eleanor to a decoupage party, a 14 year old in the same class with young children and the town's obsession with Miss Barker. 

Is this a book for everyone? No. Some people will hate the abrupt ending. Some people will hate the style of writing - blog post/diary entries that ramble on and show Eleanor's grip on reality start to slip. BUT - is it a book for me? Absolutely. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Eleanor moves to a very small town to teach, after completing breast cancer treatments.  I really liked the first part of this book, but then the last third or so was just weird.  I guess I didn't realize it was supposed to be a sort of horror story.  It's one that ends in a way that you are never sure what really happened.  Is Eleanor crazy? Is everyone else evil?  Did anything really happen?  Maybe Eleanor is actually dead?  Etc.  I don't like books that end on a question mark.  It's cheating.  If you write a book, it's your job to tell us what happens, not leave us hanging.  Again, I enjoyed the first part of the book quite a lot, but the weirdness of the second half and the ambiguous ending means only 2 stars from me.
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Thank you to Netgalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Shirley Barrett for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and 100% independent of receiving an advanced copy.

Wow! What did I just read?? I had no idea that I would love this genre as much as I did. I had no idea there was this genre. It’s a combination of horror, dark comedy and humour. It was irreverent, imaginative, off-kilter and creepy. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

The story begins as Eleanor finds a lump under her armpit. So begins her cancer journey. Now, if you are expecting some inspirational story, some uplifting acts by a brave soul, or a story of a supporting community who helps her through her struggle - ummm, no. Oh, I know, self discovery of what is really important in life and a big thank you to the big C because she would never have grown and learned these important life lessons without it. Well, you can forget that. Eleanor is blunt, honest, witty and doesn’t sugar coat things. She gives it to you straight. She’ll tell you what she is feeling about having cancer, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But she is also hilarious. I found it refreshing and endearing. She tell you her mother is bugging the crap out of her. Her best friend is getting married and tells her “Never mind your cancer, are you still gonna be my f-ing bridesmaid?”. Eleanor has to quit her job because you can’t teach while going through chemo. The rub is, Eleanor recently broke up with her long time boyfriend, Josh, because she wanted children and he didn’t. So getting cancer is sort of a kick in the pants. I don’t know if I would have laughed with such abandon if I wasn’t a cancer survivor, but laugh I did. Eleanor has wit and her honesty is refreshing. 

So, when she sees a teaching job available in this remote town with only only one class of eleven students, Eleanor decides a change of scenery is exactly what she needs. Cue creepy music. The previous teacher has disappeared, mysteriously, and the whole town has this bizarre idol worship for Miss Baxter. Something is not right. The students are weird and they have this intense adoration and love for their old teacher. All facts point to Miss Baxter as teacher of the year, however, there are some strange habits that come to light. The townspeople are even stranger. Upon meeting the preacher, he tries to perform an exorcism on Eleanor, convinced that her cancer was a demon and that it is still inside her. Eleanor is clearly struggling, often drunk, showing up for class hungover and unprepared, swearing at kids when she loses her temper. Oh yeah - having sex with her student’s brother, who happens to be his guardian, and who was also sleeping with Miss Baxter, illustrates her impaired judgement. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in questionable choices that Eleanor makes. 

The townsfolk give a very “Twin Peaks” vibe. Each character can either be creepy or quirky and you are never sure which. The fun is reading through all of the craziness that goes on once Eleanor moves to this town. I often felt off-balance because sometime you aren’t sure if something is really happening or if it is in Eleanor’s imagination. Also, sometimes, the stuff that happens is just unbelievable, in the way of, I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened, shocked kind of way. Some readers found Elenor an unlikeable character. I can understand that because she does some indefensible things when she get to town. But, I understood it from the viewpoint that, after going through cancer treatment, you can feel lost, not like yourself. All the things that made you you, are gone. As you reach out to regain those things, you might do some pretty crazy things. 

This was a delightful and unexpected. If you like offbeat or just want something new and different, I am really recommending this read.
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What in the heck did I just read? Quirky, spooky, a little bit sad, but definitely a story that sticks with you long after you're finished. I  absolutely disliked the ending though,  and that prevents me from giving it a higher rating.
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The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett was such a surreal crazy amazing read. The novel is quite like nothing I've ever read before, it's completely engrossing and a great read.
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This was hands-down the funniest book I have read in a long time. Before reading  The Bus on Thursday I never would have thought a humorous horror story could work. I mean how can it be scary while also being funny? But this book had me in turns laughing out loud and crawling out of my skin. (Disclaimer: The horror is not explicit or gruesome; it's bizarre, a little psychological, and more atmospheric than anything else).

At the beginning of the story we meet Eleanor, a thirty-something who is feeling depressed and unfulfilled after being dumped and surviving breast cancer. In an effort to start over, Eleanor takes a seemingly idyllic teaching job in a remote town. But when she arrives and learns that the previous, much adored teacher vanished, Eleanor begins to question her decision. Then things really get weird.

The book is written as a series of blog entries from our hysterically sarcastic and rather cynical narrator, Eleanor. Reading her entries and her recounting of her increasingly weird experiences in small, remote Talbingo was like listening to a best friend vent over a glass of wine.

Mysteries abound in this book and I am certain that I didn't make all of the connections I was supposed to. I am not even really sure what to make of the plot and the conclusion of Eleanor's story. At the end I wasn't sure what had happened. But I enjoyed the ride and that's all that really matters. If you're comfortable with ambiguity and stories that leave you to draw your own conclusions, then this shouldn't bother you.

Do yourself a favor: grab a glass of wine, sit on the couch, and get to know Eleanor.
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Yep, I get it.  Witty, sarcastic, dark.  Just not for me.  I just couldn't enjoy this story.  It felt mean-spirited rather than darkly humorous.
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Eleanor, a young teacher, finds herself with a diagnosis of breast cancer and increasing treatment. Her middle class friends, unaccustomed to life threatening illness or challenges, treat her with disdain and utter lack of empathy. Eleanor, understandably angry, voices her raw, unfiltered feelings on a blog intended for no public audience. In an attempt to move beyond her illness and learn to live after cancer, she takes a job as a teacher in a remote village teaching 11 elementary students. Here’s where The novel’s focus on Eleanor’s snark begins to turn sinister. She replaces a beloved teacher who has just up and vanished.  At this point things get creepy fast. The humor tired horror has some of the feel of My Best Friend’s Exorcism. But, the horror, while pretty creepy, is often more confusing than scary. And, I found the ending to be not quite satisfying.
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What a quirky book. Is it a comedy- it had me laughing out loud in parts? Was it a horror- it had me feeling squeamish at times?  Even after finishing it, I am still unsure but if you want an unconventional tale that will have you scratching your head this is a perfect book to escape the world.
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Thoroughly entertaining, with an American Werewolf in London humor mixed with horror vibe.  Odd and fun.
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I was rather disappointed in this compared to the blurb. I found the narrator annoying/unsympathetic very early on - for example saying she felt her best friend should have delayed having a baby until after she (the narrator) had finished treatment for cancer! I was also hoping the book would lean more towards the "The Exorcist" and Stephen King elements mentioned, but it's definitely more "Bridget Jones" or Maria Semple, with lots of swearing.

I liked the fact that this was a unique and unusual story. But I think it will be a difficult one to recommend, because its different influences and plot lines don't quite seem to come together.
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I read an advanced reading copy from MCD/Farrar Straus and Giroux via NetGalley.  Thanks!

This was a quick fun read.  The "official" description of the book as "Bridget Jones meets the Exorcist" is a pretty good one.  Unfortunately, without wanting to spoil anything, the scary elements mostly seemed odd and strange, and I was hoping for more supernatural and horrifying.  

But, for a reader who leans more on the Bridget Jones lover, and less on the Exorcist side, I definitely recommend this book.
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The Turn of the Loose Screw

The blurbs for this book all declare that it is a "wickedly funny" version of Bridget Jones meets "The Exorcist", and I think that that is absolutely spot on. Our heroine, Eleanor, is a cancer survivor who finds herself in a weird and creepy place, and this book, which reads like a series of blog posts, is a wild combination of narrative, digressions, musings, dream reports, drunken reveries, sex, and stone cold deadpan observations about the meaning of it all. It is laugh out loud funny and may be the only ever example of truly manic/sad/funny modern gothic.

The book has a plot, of course, but it goes off the rails with such frequency that the plot is easy to lose. Which was fine by me. It also has an artsy/ambiguous ending, which I usually hate, but which I didn't mind at all here. That's probably because the ride up to the ending was so fun, and because the artsy/ambiguous ending is actually pretty good and sort of a neat final little twist and thought provoking joke on the reader.

You can go as deeply into the book as you care to, depending on how much you like allegory, metaphor and symbolism. Demons, cancer, mad priests, tongueless dwarves by the side of the road, isolation, (heck, kangaroos), and so on would let you spin out meanings and messages forever. Or, you could just go with the vibe and laugh at the witty, deadpan, acerbic, tender, insightful, and manic lines that are crammed onto every page. Your choice - and what a fine choice that is. This was a great, fun find.

(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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I really don't know what to make of The Bus on Thursday. Eleanor Mellett, a not very sympathetic person, is recovering from breast cancer. She takes a job as a primary school teacher in a remote outpost called Talbingo as a fresh start. 
Talbingo is a very strange place. Has Eleanor died and gone to hell? Is she in the upside-down? I really struggled to get to grips with what happens there. All of the townsfolk are messed up and weird. Eleanor herself seems completely loopy and unfit to be outside. If Twin Peaks was in Australia I would imagine it might be something like this.
Shirley Barrett writes well and the story is blackly funny but not terribly coherent. She is definitely trying for shock value. I don't think it written with me in mind, but I am glad I read it.
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