The Night Book – Richard Madeley

~~~FAIR WARNING: I’m being Ms Judgy McJudgerson in this post, and working from some pre-conceived opinions. Which probably makes me a bit of a snob. So now you know.~~~

So this was in my trolley before I realised who the author was, and when I realised (after paying) I had this kind of ‘Aw, maaaayn’ moment. See, I have firm opinions about celebrity authors, and as to Mr Madeley himself, well, I’ve always thought he’s kind of a dick*.

Sorry.

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So, I had a heart-sinking moment when I realised, but The Night Book was mine now anyway, and the cover art and blurb which had attracted me in the first place had not changed. I decided to give it a chance.

Then I read the dedication page where he thanks his wife Judy [aw, sweet] for being patient during the four months it took him to write. Four months?! Good grief, that’s no time at all. I was expected to spend more time than that on a 12,000 word dissertation! And my heart sank again.

Nevertheless, I read it anyway. And you know what, it’s ok! The Night Book follows Meriel, a young, attractive, feminist agony aunt for the radio, and Seb, a journalist-turned-reporter who is starting out in radio having moved to the countryside from London. It’s the summer of 1976, the hottest summer on record, and people are mysteriously drowning in the lakes – creepy! There are a satisfying couple of twists – predictable ones, but satisfying all the same – and the writing doesn’t get in the way of the story. It’s not the mysterious kind of horror story I was expecting when I picked it up; it’s more of a personal tale than that; but I enjoyed it all the same. There are some heavy themes, but they’re treated with a  light hand so it doesn’t feel heavy to read, and it’s probably not going to give the reader any great insight into the mind of victims or abusers. I wanted to know what happened next, and the ending was what I wanted it to be.

It does feel like it only took four months to write, though.

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*Admit it, you think he’s kind of a dick, too! Something about how he’s always saying stupid, ignorant things that make Judy drop her face into her hands in despair. Or how he’s almost wilfully, cheerfully misogynistic and mildly racist. UGH.
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