“Charles Bramewell Brockley was travelling alone and without a ticket on the 14.42 from London Bridge to Brighton.”
There are different strands to this well received tale. It is a Richard and Judy book of the autumn and a Sunday Times bestseller and has sold, my edition tells me, half a million copies. The hero Anthony Peardew was a good writer. Little vignettes of his stories appear here to underline the point, fragments of life that he was inspired to write by finding odd things in the street and park that fit like punctuation in the novel, hence the title. He resists his publisher’s encouragement to write so much “literary lemonade”. His taste was more absinthe.
There is a sub plot involving Eunice and Bomber that I like a lot. The central character Laura though is a winge, a disappointment to her parents and to her husband but now befriended by the intriguing, disadvantaged young Sunshine. All three weave like different stylistic threads. Laura’s mission, her legacy, is to link up the strands of neatly marked lost items kept in the study. Her clues are in Anthony’s stories…
Little descriptions stand out. “A sharp, spiky unfolded paperclip of a woman”….”Maud invited misery as a permanent house guest”. Later on sausage roll links two disparate chapters.
Some of the women, especially Bomber’s appalling sister Portia, are scary which perhaps goes some way to explain Laura’s limpness.. The moods shift between pathos, hilarity, commentary, sometimes up to date, sometimes 30 years ago. And as we move on the paranormal and a sub text on publishing and writing in general.
The finale is heart warmingly rounded which is one reason for its deserved popularity.