Member Reviews

Iris is a young English woman on holiday in Eastern Europe returning home by train first to Trieste. An older Englishwoman, Miss Froy befriends her on the journey and after tea together, Iris sleeps. When she awakes Miss Froy is missing and everyone around her denies she ever existed. It’s a simple plot and the answer is probably obvious but it was such a fun read. The pacing is a bit slow to start with, once it gets going it’s hard to stop reading. An excellent classic mystery.

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I love seeing older titles get their time in the sun again and with The Lady Vanishes we are getting a lovingly republished Golden Age classic mystery that's probably better known for it's 1938 Alfred Hitchcock screen adaptation.

It was first published as The Wheel Spins in 1936 and tells the story of glamorous socialite Iris Carr who is looking forward to returning home after a summer jaunt to a remote location in Europe. Having remained longer than her friends she finds herself journeying home alone but on the train to Trieste, she is pleased to meet the kindly governess, Miss Froy. They strike up a conversation and Iris warms to her new companion but after taking a nap she is shocked to discover that Miss Froy has disappeared without a trace and none of the other passengers on the train will admit to having ever seen such a woman.

Doubting her sanity and fearing for her life, Iris is determined to find Miss Froy before the train journey is over. Only one of her fellow passengers seems to believe her story and with his help, Iris begins to search the train for clues to the mystery of the vanished lady.

This story has been on my list to read for years especially as it has been highlighted as a masterclass in gaslighting and suspense, with a synopsis like that you can't help but be intrigued! Sadly I found myself skim reading a lot of it as the character of Iris was insufferable and unfortunately I found the whole thing tiresome and repetitive.

There are some interesting coded comments about society at that time (building up to WW2) peppered throughout the book which added some interest but not enough to overcome my issues with the main character. There is also a lot of barely hidden xenophobia and old fashioned jingoistic views of England and the English which didn't sit right with me and very clearly made it stand out as being 'a book of its time'. Whilst that's a fair point, Agatha Christie's books after all haven't held up well in many areas and are still considered classics, for me it didn't make for an interesting reading experience, especially combined with the other issues I had with the thinness of the plot and poor characterisations.

2*

Thank you to Netgalley and Pushkin Press | Pushkin Vertigo for an eArc of "The Lady Vanishes" in exchange for my honest and voluntary review.

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I have seen quite a few different movie versions of this story including one of my favorites, Flightplan. And now I finally got to read the inspiration behind the story!

I'm not really a classics fan, but every once in awhile I find a gem. If your a fan of Agatha Christie and Whodunnit stories, then pick up this book. An interesting story of a young woman on vacation who claims a woman has Vanished on the train. But there is no trace of her and no one believes her.

I really enjoyed the characters and the mystery and for a classic it was actually quite easy to understand as well and I think would be a great story for people who are new to classics.

*thank you to #netgalley for a copy of this new edition of a classic to read and review. All thoughts are my own.

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This was a solid thriller novel, full of mystery and suspense. The author creates a story that starts out as a “is she crazy?”, to “where is the protagonist’s (Iris) companion?”, to “whodunit?”, to “will the crime get solved in time?”. The tension stayed high throughout the book and has you rooting for Iris not to give up. White throws as many obstacles as she can at Iris, while leaving the reader piecing together clues along the journey. The intrigue and twists is very Hitchcockeque, which is probably why he chose to turn it into a movie.

Denial, closed spaces, shifty characters, and simmering danger create the right atmosphere for this thriller. It will grip you all the way through.

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''So you saw Miss Froy no more...She is nothing but a delirium - a dream,''

A young British socialite, frustrated, disillusioned and fed up with the pretentiousness of her noisy friends and the life she has been leading, decides to end her holidays in an unnamed (and probably fictional) country somewhere in Central Europe and return to England. Surrounded by fellow travellers who are hollower than the hollowest kind of void, she finds herself in the company of the dull, yet sympathetic, Miss Froy. When Miss Froy simply vanishes into thin air, Iris does everything in her power to find her while her efforts are hindered and blocked by suspicious strangers and men who simply dismiss her as a ''hysterical woman''. Little do they know...

Ethel Lina White created one of the most famous mystery books (and it is a pity that it became so well-known thanks to a lousy adaptation by the greatest fraud in the History of Cinema., Alfred ''I will bore you to Death with my nonsense'' Hitchcock). Iris is a character who tells it like it is and I loved her immensely. Her determination to proceed and stay true to herself while every male character tries to coax her into submission and docility is outstanding. The claustrophobic setting of the train that never stops mirrors Iris's non-stop mind and strength. Even Hare, who is dashing and enticing, is a male figure whose motives remained unclear - at least to me- even at the end of the novel. The dialogue is surprisingly lively and modern (a characteristic of the works of women writers during the 30s) and the constant comings and goings make you feel as if you are a passenger on a train that will keep travelling until Judgement Day.

No need for more. This is one of the finest examples of the genre, a quintessentially British mystery.

*Do yourselves a favour. Ditch the Hitchcock atrocity and watch the 2013 adaptation by BBC One. Thank me later.

Many thanks to Pushkin Vertigo and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/

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Gaslighting, kidnap, drugging… a train journey you won’t forget.

Set in the latter half of of the 1930’s, Iris is separated from her friends and undertakes a train journey fraught with danger before she’s even on the train. Once aboard the train, she meets governess Miss Froy, only for her to dissappear.

The writing is brilliantly vivid from the outset, with depictions of the last day of Iris’s holiday contrasted with the atmosphere of impending danger.

The novel keeps you on a knife edge, with both psychological and physical terror. Iris is gaslit by the men surrounding her on the train (a doctor included) to the point of questioning her own sanity. That awful 19th century term hysteria is applied to Iris as a way to silence her.

I’ve seen three film adaptations, but you don’t get to hear the voices the way you do in the novel. The frightened Mrs Froy and the emotive chapters from home add to her plight.

There is also the hypocritical attitude of the other passengers towards Iris. The Misses Flood-Porter for example , believe themselves keeping up English standards while being among the accomplices in their unwillingness to help Iris. The passengers in general are a self-centred lot in their denial of Miss Froy’s existence.

I really disliked the attitude of Max. In some of the films, he is a much more likeable character. It was another unsettling aspect to the novel and also that Iris had decided to go off with him at the end, especially after what he did.

The book was written in the 1930s, not long before World War Two. It shows the tensions between the old and new England. The sisters are part of the dying old English world.

A disturbing thriller that will keep you thinking about its themes long after the book has ended.

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If you pick up this tome and have watched Hitchcock's film, you will no doubt find yourself making comparisons. This tome is a slow build with a plot line slightly different to the one Hitchcock presents.

Like most tomes of the period, there is usually a secondary narrative or social commentary or political propaganda. Many early 20th century books embraced modernist techniques, such as stream-of-consciousness narration, nonlinear storytelling, and fragmented narratives; and focused on character to unravel the intricate web of an individual's thoughts and feelings . This is no exception.

Still, read it for the enjoyment of this being a classic mystery.

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It is a mystery that keeps you guessing, with a good dose of humor to keep you entertained. It started slowly, but the story picked up the pace once they got on the train. This classic psychological mystery was engaging and had a good balance of humor that I thoroughly enjoyed. When I was done, I made the mistake of watching Hitchcock’s adaptation; the changes to the plot and characters did not improve anything. On the contrary, I found it hard to enjoy and couldn’t finish it.

I'm not very fond of this period, but this convinced me to read more of this Author's work; the writing was easy to follow, and the clues were enough to keep me hooked..

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This was a classic mystery story. Primarily set on an international train, the disappearance of an English woman sets our protagonist on a confusing adventure. A product of its time, the story is now oft repeated, but I appreciate that when first released it would have sent shockwaves through the mystery genre.

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Un giallo classico di tanto in tanto è un toccasana, e The Lady Vanishes è un delizioso meccanismo a orologeria: niente viene lasciato al caso, e se non ho provato troppa simpatia per Iris, l'ho trovata credibile e attorniata da personaggi che, nelle loro piccole storie di contorno, lo erano altrettanto, spesso rappresentanti di un'epoca e di una classe sociale ben definite e ormai perse.
Un ottimo recupero, e un'ottima alternativa a una rilettura di Dame Agatha.

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The book is mesmerising and really intrigued me. The language used is easy to follow and understand, making the reading an easy process for me.

Definitely will recommend to others.

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I recently read The Lady Vanishes, provided as an eARC by Net Galley. This book was first published as The Wheel Spins in 1936 and it was also made into a movie by the Great Alfred Hitchcock in the 1930s

The story centres on young l, glamorous Iris Carr who meets Miss Froy, a governess returning home on their train to Trieste. Miss Froy disappears but no one on the train recalls her presence other than Iris Carr and no one will believe Miss Froy even exists.

A fabulous classic crime mystery written in the golden era of mystery writers. As a lover of Agatha Christie and writers similar to her, this was on my list. I've seen this movie so many times over the year and was excited to read this new edition

A fabulous number of interesting and mysterious characters and clever, witty dialogue, this is a great read which held my interest throughout despite knowing the plot!

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This was a lovely book with an interesting premise, a number of interesting twists, and enjoyable style. I enjoyed it.

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The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White was originally published in 1936 as The Wheel Spins. It was (and still is) so good it was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock. Golden Age mysteries are amongst my favourites and Ethel Lina White was as well known as the fellow crime writers Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley and E. C. R. Lorac. Talk about an illustrious bunch!

Orphan and English socialite Iris Carr has enjoyed vacationing with her friends in Europe. She is now journeying home with strangers on a train and en route to beautiful Trieste, she is thrilled to connect with fellow English woman Miss Froy, a governess. After a nap, Iris wakes up to discover Miss Froy isn't there. She asks fellow passengers and train staff who act like she's lost her marbles. No one remembered a lady by Miss Froy's name or description. Iris begins to question herself and starts to let go of the notion. However, one person finally agrees to the reality of Miss Froy which is the push she needs to do some investigating.

Though the solution isn't difficult to work out, the descriptions, gorgeous writing, train setting (I'm a big fan of Trieste, too) and fascinating mores of the time grabbed me and I briefly melted into another world. I seldom encounter less-than-stellar Golden Age mysteries and adored this one.

My sincere thank you to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this splendid whodunit. Thank you for republishing this gem of a classic!

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The Lady Vanishes was originally published in 1936 as The Wheel Spins and so many people will know this as the 1938 Hitchcock film. I enjoyed the film very much but the book is so much better.
I love the author’s writing style, it is full of atmosphere and suspense and this book is a real psychological thriller. The story surrounds Iris who is travelling back from Europe by train and is befriended on the journey by the elderly Miss Froy who subsequently vanishes and nobody believes Iris that Miss Froy was ever there.
The twists and turns of the story will keep you interested and the mid 1930’s setting in Central Europe gives an insight into the feelings of that time. A very enjoyable read.

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I consider myself to be a HUGE Hitchcock fan and I know a thing or two about his films and I read just about every biography and every book on him, or his films.

I usually choose the books I want to read on the basis of the blurb or the attractive cover, but in this case it was, of course, the title.
Now reissued, this is a classic, magisterially written and as good as it has ever been.
Truly one of the best thrillers ever written.
Absolutely worth a read, and even if you have never liked thrillers before, this one will have you converted in no time at all.

One of my favourite books of all time and made into a magisterial film by none other than Alfred Hitchcock.
The book, better known by its original title The Wheel Spins - written by Ethel Lina White, was published by Collins Crime Club London in 1936 and filmed in 1938, starring Margaret Lockwood & Michael Redgrave; it was the last film to be made by Hitchcock before he left the UK for Hollywood.
This was the original story that was made into that film. Utterly brilliant and very readable still.
Highly recommended!

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Iris Carr is a spoiled young English woman used to getting her own way. She is on holiday somewhere in a remote part of Europe with a group of friends. This group is not popular at the hotel because of the ways in which they behave and the disturbance they cause to the other guests. When the group decides to leave, no one is sorry to see them go. Iris has decided to stay on, but when she goes out hiking and gets lost on the mountain, she decides she's had enough to plans leave the next day. As she's waiting for the train, she is suddenly knocked out, waking up in a waiting room and barely making the overcrowded train. She doesn't speak any language other than English and her head is pounding so she is grateful to discover that the middle aged woman in tweeds sitting across from her is also an English woman. They have tea together, but Iris stops paying much attention to Miss Froy, who gives her some tablets. Iris falls asleep and when she wakes up, Miss Froy has vanished and everyone else insists she never existed at all. Iris fears foul play and tries to discover what's happened.

This is an excellent Golden Age mystery, which I am delighted to see reprinted. The book was originally published as The Wheel Spins and was made into films. I am not a movie person, so never saw any of the films. This was my introduction to the book and the author and I look forward to reading more of her work.

The book begins with the narrative written in third person mostly from Iris' point of view, with just a glimpse of the other characters. Once the mystery begins to unfold on the train, things start to shift around more from Iris to the other English people from the hotel who are also on the train, and back to England where Miss Froy's parents and dog await her return with feelings of foreboding. Each person on the train has their own worries that explain their behaviour so this is a necessary change in perspective as the story goes on. The book is well-written, the story kept me turning the pages, and the descriptions of the scenery added a lot to the narrative. If you're a fan of Golden Age mysteries like I am, this is a great book to pick up and enjoy.

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It’s easy to see why Alfred Hitchcock chose to adapt this novel to film – it’s very much a psychological thriller. An English socialite is staying alone in a hotel in the mountains after her friends have all left, leaving her alone with an unusual cast of more English characters. She collapses on the platform of the station as she waits for the train but is bundled onto it at the last minute, finally squeezing into an overcrowded carriage. There she meets another English woman who mysteriously disappears from the moving train, with everyone else in the carriage denying she was ever there. She spends the rest of the novel trying to discover what has happened.

The ‘what happened’ in the event isn’t particularly hard to guess – it’s all reasonably clearly signposted – but the ‘why’ is a little more concealed and makes some sense. The larger part of the story though is the tension over the main character making herself believed and second guessing her own memories and thoughts. It’s a classic locked room kind of thriller and very enjoyable in a slightly dated way.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in return for an honest review.

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4.5 stars for this excellent classic mystery! There is a great cast of characters to enjoy. The plot is complex but not completely unbelievable. The author is masterful at tying together all of the threads from earlier in the story.

Although switching to the perspective of Miss Froy’s parents took away a bit from the momentum of the mystery, it added heart to the story. My bigger qualm is that I struggled to see Hare as a good friend or love interest for Iris by the end of the story. However, he was still an interesting and important character.

I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free eARC. This review is my honest opinion.

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Thank you to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for an advance reader’s copy of this book.

I was disappointed in this original novel on which Hitchcock’s great 1938 film is based.
His version of “The Lady Vanishes” is one of my favorite films, and I’ve seen it innumerable times since if first appeared on network television about 60 years ago.

Perhaps in comparison to the lively film, this book seemed long-winded, the language dated, and the characters stiff. While I am a great fan of “Golden Age” mysteries, for me this one did not transfer well to the present.

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