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The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday

The Girl on the Landing

by Paul Torday

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2411047,848 (3.41)10



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I enjoyed reading this intriguing and gripping novel. The chapters alternate narrators, firstly Michael and then Elizabeth, a married couple who have a wealthy and routine life. How close to any reality their stories are is not explored and it is left to the reader to make up their mind. Their life together starts ordinarily enough, they are distant and polite with each other. Things start to change as Michael's personality starts to change and the story very gradually unfolds bit by bit as to why this has happened and what the background to Michael's story is. The action moves between London and Michael's family home in Scotland and the tension builds as the novel moves forward. The ideas behind the story are interesting and well told, although with plenty of drama that is perhaps heavy handed. ( )
2 vote Tifi | May 18, 2017 |
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Michael and Elizabeth Gascoigne are the narrators of The Girl on the Landing and the question that puzzled me was, just how reliable are their accounts. It soon becomes obvious that it is Michael who is the problem. It begins when Michael and Elizabeth visit a friend’s country house and he spots a painting of a landing with a woman clad in a green dress in the background – except that there is no woman in the painting. Despite his outward calm and reliability he is mentally ill – hearing voices and seeing people who aren’t there – or are they? I began to wonder if they were real after all. Such was the effect this book had on me. When he stops taking the drug their marriage takes on a new character, taking Elizabeth quite by surprise, initially liking it, but soon scaring her.

The location is split between Michael’s luxury London flat and his large country estate in Scotland. In London he is the part-time membership secretary of Grouchers, an exclusive gentlemen’s club. Here he is faced with a difficult situation when Mr Patel, a Ugandan Asian applies for membership, raising questions about the nature of Britishness and Englishness, identity and personality – all quite disturbing for Michael and the other members.

In contrast to life in London, is the Gascoignes’ life in Scotland, in the dank and gloomy house Michael inherited from his parents – Beinn Caorunn. Elizabeth hates the place and rarely goes there, but Michael loves it; it is the place where he feels “connected to the world again”. But Michael has secrets and as the novel progresses the nature of these secrets are gradually revealed, building a sense of mystery and foreboding. Just who is the woman in the green dress, the Lamia and what did happen to Michael’s parents?

The tension builds and I just had to finish the book, but I thought the ending was an anti-climax as Elizabeth takes over the narrative and we are left dangling. Just what did happen … ? But I couldn’t really imagine how else it could end and it was a very enjoyable book. ( )
  BooksPlease | Sep 29, 2010 |
Elizabeth and Michael and mental illness ( )
  Mumineurope | Aug 13, 2010 |
One of those books that creeps up and you and bludgeons you over the head with an ending you'll never see coming... ( )
  Virtual_Jo | Apr 27, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0753823403, Paperback)

Elizabeth has been married to Michael for ten years. She has adjusted to a fairly monotonous routine with her wealthy, decent but boring husband. Part of this routine involves occasional visits to Beinn Caorrun, the dank and gloomy house in a Scottish glen that Michael inherited. There are memories there that Michael will not share with her. But then Michael begins to change. It starts when he thinks he sees, in a picture, the figure of a girl on a landing. As he changes, life becomes so much more fun and Elizabeth sees glimpses of a man she can fall in love with at last. But who - or what - is changing Michael ...?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Elizabeth has been married to Michael for ten years. She has adjusted to a fairly monotonous routine with her wealthy, decent but boring husband. But then, on a holiday in Ireland, Michael begins to change. But who - or what - is changing Michael?

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