Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award - The Bus on Thursday

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This is a story of a bit of an unknown quantity. It does try to deliver with a strong storyline, characters etc unfortunately it just doesn’t. It’s not quite over the finishing line. 
Writing style is good.
Thank you to both NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group uk for my ARC of this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
Was this review helpful?
This is a really difficult book to review as it's not typical of any genre.
It's blurb'd as being Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist but it's not really either of these things.
Importantly though, I really enjoyed it - I loved Eleanor, she was funny, crazy and as screwed up as the next person. There are so many layers and textures to this book, and not all of them make sense.
Would love to know what people think - please read and tell me.
Was this review helpful?
Eleanor is one feisty lady who takes nonsense from nobody.  One day whilst scratching her armpit, as you do, she finds a lump on her breast.  After the all clear she finds herself working in some tiny place in the back of Australia's beyond.  It's very strange here with some peculiar people which should suit Eleanor as she is pretty odd herself.  This book is definitely quirky with its mix of illness and one or two weird goings on and would suit anyone who wants a break from whodunnits, domestic dramas or thrillers.  To me this was 90% humour and 10% illness/creepiness.  I laughed a lot, even at the bits that were meant to be scary.  As for that ending? - file under bizarre I think!
Was this review helpful?
Feel this book is really confusing, not what I thought it was going to be.
Eleanor was on a self destruct mission,,
Couldn't follow what was delusion and what was real (was that the aim of the plot)
Thought the writing was good - even though odd

Thank you netgalley, little Brown book UK and Shirley Barrett for allowing me to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
I am probably the wrong person for this book. I somehow expected a "normal" story, even though the description should have warned me. I also like paranormal stories, but this story was more then confusing for me. I had the feeling that it is a normal story, which just didn't make sense. But that probably shouldn't be the case, but I must confess, even though I know it know, it still doesn't make sense. So the overall impression is confusing and I don't know what to think.
On the other hand I liked the style of the author, her easy-going and open way to write. That's why I would really read another book by her, if I knew that the story is not that confusing.
Was this review helpful?
Hilarious in places but just a little bit (actually scratch that), rather bizarre.  Subsequently I discovered it's a humour-horror but it's still just too bizarre for me.

Young teacher trying to overcome breast cancer moves to a small town 6 hours away with a mixed class of 11 pupils. Last teacher disappeared without a trace... much loved.

Replacement teacher is much maligned, puts many feet wrong and has almost no social or emotional intelligence. Funny yes but cringe worthy too.

So far ok but then it just gets bizarre. Almost like the first half was too pedestrian so we’ll mix it up and create something exceptional... except it was just odd, strange and uncomfortable.

So a book of two halves... 1st half interesting/amusing/ambling - 2nd half very very strange particularly the minister!! Actually I would say all the characters are odd.

Overall, well it’s memorable so squeaks a 3* review.
Bizarre.
Was this review helpful?
If you are looking for a crazy and bonkers read, this piece of weird fiction by Aussie Shirley Barrett might just be for you. There are elements of romance and comic humour, infused with a large dollop of horror, think Bridget Jones crossed with The Shining. Eleanor Mellet has broken up with Josh, her long term boyfriend because he didn't want children, when she discovers she has an aggressive form of breast cancer that throws her life off the rails. Eleanor is snarky, sweary and surly, as her cancer causes her to lose her teaching position. She is beyond upset when she has to undergo a masectomy that plays havoc with her sense of identity. Her friends are proving to be of little comfort, costing her money as she plays the role of bridesmaid to best friend, Sally, and her self esteem takes a battering when a date with Harry, the hairlip, turns into a disaster. In a narrative consisting of blogs, we follow Eleanor as she takes up a life saver of a working role, teaching in the remote town of Talbingo, population 241, in the foothills of the beautiful Snowy Mountains.

Talbingo seems the perfect spot to recover from cancer, albeit the locals are more than a little offbeat. The priest, Friar Eugene Hernandez, 'the Praying Mantis' seems a trifle insane when he blames Eleanor for her cancer, convinced that her cancer is caused by demons she has inadvertently let into her life. Eleanor is in charge of 11 students of varying ages, replacing their previous teacher, Miss Barker, who is beloved by all in the community. She was a caring, conscientious, sharing and nurturing, the perfect teacher, everything in fact, that Eleanor is not. Miss Barker disappeared one night, leaving Talbingo bewildered and the children feeling unsettled wondering what happened to her. As Eleanor tries discreetly to imbibe her bottles of wine, events take a surreal and hallucinatory turn when it is unclear whether Eleanor is several sandwiches short of a picnic or if Talbingo is just a magnet for horror.

This was certainly a funny, strange, dark and odd read, perfect if you are looking for something different to read. It has a memorable central character in Eleanor, who may or may not be experiencing mental health issues after being afflicted with breast cancer. She may well be the teacher from hell in comparison to the previous incumbent, but in spite of this, Eleanor seems to be following the well trodden and dangerous path of her predecessor, the esteemed Miss Barker. Shirley Barrett has written a wildly entertaining novel that I must admit to thoroughly enjoying, although perhaps it may not be to everyone's taste. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
With thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the book in exchange for an honest review.
I managed to read half way through this book and realised it wasn’t for me. I found the humour and the language just grated on me. It would probably be suited to late teens to early thirties age group.
Was this review helpful?
This is such an intriguing book because it's labelled a horror book but it's so much more than this. It's multi layered and you'll be thinking about it for weeks after finishing. It was very funny which i also wasn't expecting and i loved the main character.
Was this review helpful?
I found it really difficult to get into this book. I did not find it humorous and the bad language put me off. I found the main character unlikeable. 
I would like to thank NetGalley and Little Brown Book UK for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book, although being a very quick read (finished it in one day), was extremely confusing. Reading it felt a bit like a fever dream and even though the voice of the narrator was quite funny and some of its various threads were quite compelling, ultimately it left me very frustrated. Was any of it real? Was it all in Eleanors mind? Did she die of her cancer and Talbingo was a kind of limbo, with the bus taking her to the "other side"? I usually don't mind it if a book is open-ended and doesn't answer all of your questions, but this one was just too bizarre for my taste.
Was this review helpful?
Slightly confused by this book until I remembered the description of Bridget Jones meeting the Exorcist. You don't often get humour and horror together.
I REALLY liked the humour in the first part dealing with the cancer,but less liked the second half as I didn't know if these things were happening,or Eleanor had lost the plot.
Good humour throughout though.
Was this review helpful?
Umm..... I genuinely have no idea how I feel about this book. The words peculiar and strange don't quite cover it and having literally just finished it as I write this, I think it's gonna take me a bit of time to figure out what the hell just happened.

I have to admit I have a real love for books that are weird and different and it was that single line in the blurb "Bridget Jones meets the Exorcist" that told me this was a book I needed to read despite never having heard of either the book or the author before. 

The story follows teacher Eleanor who shortly after a bad breakup discovers she has breast cancer. She gets treatment and other than a bit of emotional instability is on the road to recovery. Desperate to get away from her unsympathetic friends who are inconsiderately getting married and moving on with their lives she accepts the only job she can find in a school with eleven pupils in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

It seems like the perfect opportunity to get away from the stresses of everyday life and recover but there are some very odd characters in this town and some increasingly weird goings on. There's also the mystery of what happened to her predecessor who, despite being loved by all, suddenly vanished in the middle of the night.

The whole thing is told in a series of blog posts by Eleanor which probably explains the comparisons to Bridget Jones but Eleanor is no Miss Jones. From the very first page she comes across as incredibly angry and a little unbalanced which is understandable given the cancer, and the break up, and the inconsiderate friends. She swears a lot, gets angry at everyone, behaves inappropriately and, when she starts her new job, is possibly the worst person you can imagine teaching young children. It's hilarious and also a little alarming so as you can probably guess, I loved it.

The blog posts recount daily events but blend in a mixture of random thoughts, dreams and fantasies that often make it difficult to tell what's real and what's not. There are gaps, flashbacks and odd statements all muddled together that leave you completely confused as to what the heck is going on and who Eleanor really is.

There are many, many eccentric and peculiar characters in this town from the minister of the church who believes a demon possession was responsible for her cancer, to the supposed 12 year old pupil Ryan who spends all his time staring at her chest and the school administrator who bursts into tears at the merest mention of Eleanor's predecessor.  

There is however something incredibly compelling about both the characters and the story and I found myself completely engaged from start to finish. I literally couldn't put it down and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. It's funny and occasionally creepy but mostly just bizarre and don't get me started on that ending.

If I had one complaint it's that I would have liked a bit more horror to it. Yep there are bits that make you think of the Shining (and even a few references to that film) but, other than a few brief moment (mostly involving the bus in the title), there are no real chills or scares. 

Overall though a great read and one I'd recommend to anyone who loves the bizarre.
Was this review helpful?
I read this book in just one day, it was just so strange that I simply couldn't put it down. The book centres around Eleanor Mellett, a young lady recovering from cancer. She gets offered a job teaching in a small town and with little to lose she sets off on her journey. Talbingo turns out to be a odd town and the people residing there stranger still.

I found that the book started of relatively normal but soon takes a very unsettling and slightly eerie turn. The character of Eleanor is a difficult one to pin down, at times I found her frustrating and selfish, yet she was still rather endearing - certainly a complex character. She is not an entirely reliable narrator either, her memories and thoughts are often fragmented and do not completely add up. I often found myself wondering if the strange goings on within the town were real,  if it was all part of some delusion created in Eleanors own mind or perhaps a bit of both. 

This is certainly a very odd book with plenty of surreal and strange occurrences.

Thanks for NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?