Reviewing the Situation with Lena Davis
Lena has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.
Since “Gone Girl” and “Girl on a Train” there have been a constant flow of similar psychological thrillers. Some have been very good indeed, like Fiona Barton’s “The Widow” and now “The Child”. Some, not to put too finer point on it, have pursued an increasingly thread bare formula that has become trite.
So I implore you, buy yourself a present of “Then She Was Gone” (Century £12.99) because the wonderful Lisa Jewell has reinvented and embellished the formula with a story that goes well beyond a missing girl mystery. By the end of this lovely book we finally find the fate of a long missing fifteen year old and although it is finger nail bitingly good, it is also so much more. The characters not only jump off the pages but most of them will live on in your hearts.
Lisa Jewell says she planned that her very first novel the highly successful “Ralph’s Party” would be a thriller. However, she changed her mind midway through as she so liked the characters she created. We Lisa Jewell fans have had to wait until now, twelve novels later, for what will possibly be the best thriller of the year. The wait, you will find, was really worthwhile.
Now, talking about psychological thrillers, what can be more thrilling than our own psyche? “Get Over Yourself” by journalist Patrick West (Imprint Academic £9.99) asks a fascinating question – what would nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche make of the world we live in today? The thrilling element is that the combination of Nietzsche and Patrick West makes you look deep into your own psyche and makes sure that you really have no place to hide!
Patrick West is a terrific writer and he guides us through the journey of looking at identity politics, therapy culture, religious fundamentalism, displays of emotion, dumbing down and digital addiction. Most of all he makes us examine ourselves, our contradictions, our self-love and self-hate and just about every part of what it is that goes to make each one of us.
If you are sick and tired of the constant industry of self-help books. Patrick and Friedrich combine to illuminate our dark corners. And then, as the books title says “Get Over Yourself”. This is the first book I have read by Patrick West and I now intend to read through everything he has written before and I will keep my eyes open for his byline in the Times, New Statesman, Spectator, etc, etc, etc.
Talking about great writers – how would you like to become one? Caroline Foster has just had “Write from the Start” published by Bennion Kearny (£12.99). The subtitle is “The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Professional Non-fiction” and, as a journalist, I generally view such books with suspicion. They often write about how things should be and not as they are. Caroline Foster has converted me with this great book which is full of lots and lots of information for those of you who would like to become a money earning writer. And, just to show the way, it is incredibly readable. It covers how to do it, how to sell it and how you can make a living (good luck with that one!).