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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2009
This is a tale of creeping menace, combining a chilling portrait of a couple's passionless marriage with a good old fashioned ghost story. Torday evokes the Scottish highlands with particular skill. The hills and dark woods surrounding Micheal's estate are filled with strange winds and voices. Nothing is quite what it seems.

At a time when so many writers are busy experimenting with form and technique, it is a joy to read a book that focuses so resolutely on great storytelling. Torday is a writer of literary fiction who is also a pleasure to read.

That's not to say the book doesn't have depth or intrigue. The book's eerie tone is reminiscent of 'The Turn of the Screw' or even Robert Browning's terrifying tale 'My Last Duchess.'

Curl up on a dark night, light a flickering candle and prepare for a treat!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 October 2009
I found this book an enjoyable and easily readable book, although the twists and ending were a little predictable. The story concerns the rather staid husband and wife relationship of a reasonably wealthy man, who shares his time between a job as the membership secretary of a London gentleman's club and his rather run-down shooting estate in Scotland, and his wife who dislikes the club environment, most of the members and the Scottish lodge. Not exactly the ingredients for a lively relationship. However, the husband's secret past comes back to haunt them both, and the book culminates in a climax set in Scotland. I can't really say much more about the plot to prevent spoiling, although it is rather predicatble. There is some attempt at supernatural ambiguity woven in, presumably to add interest and keep the reader guessing, but this isn't really too convincing for me. The book explores relationships, mental health, and the extent to which two people can ever really know each other. The book is written in the first person, but with alternating scenes and chapters where the husband and wife are narrating.
Enjoyable, easy reading although not difficult to see where it is all going.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2009
Having enjoyed Torday's first novel and been slightly disappointed with his second, this third offering is back on form. It is a gripping story, with a dual narrative perspective, combining a fascinating mix of mythology with the Lamia story ( you may remember Keats' femme fatale) interwoven with mental illness, the emotional climate becoming more tense as the plot develops.

The novel starts off in a rather dry and prosaic manner, charting the dull marriage of two apparently unsuitable people, where everything is predictable and yet the reader can see the humour in the situation.However, in an approach reminiscent of Henry James''The Turn of the Screw', the tension builds up to its nail biting climax, leaving the reader with unanswered questions in true macabre fashion. Effectively written and crafted, I thoroughly recommend this to those who enjoy a good yarn, and who also consider 'what is psychological truth'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2010
I found this to be a good novel to read on a dark winter night for some ghostly Gothic atmosphere - and it is a spooky story full of atmosphere, ideal for picking up at bedtime.

It begins like a ghost story, morphs into a psychological thriller, twists into mental illness, then becomes a murder mystery wrapped in superstition around a love story with elements of the supernatural. You never find out exactly what the main character is (or is not), but you are by no way 'left hanging' and the ultimate ending is intelligently left to the reader. Phew, trying to categorize that one was a bit of a stretch. Don't let that put you off as this book's is kind of spooky mystery full of atmosphere. It's like a modern-day Gothic novel with more than a nod to the old Gothic classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Dorian Gray, The Lady in White, The Pit & the Pendulum, etc., but with a contemporary setting.

It will appeal to young, old, male, female, and has something that will appeal to most (especially if you like novels of suspense, ghosts and a supernatural slant) readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 January 2012
This is a well-written modern take on the gothic/supernatural genre, updated with some important things to say about modern ideas of psychosis, identity and our dependency on drugs to recreate a state of so-called mental `normality'.

Torday flips effortlessly between eerie scenes of possibly haunted paintings and possession drawing on classic ghostly tales by writers like M.R. James; but gives it a The Turn of the Screw spin that leaves us constantly unsure about what is `real' and what is in the mind of Michael.

The beginning, especially, has some very chilling moments that had me reading this with all the lights switched on, and I liked the way the book subtly transforms itself into something different. The tale maintains its enigmatic air right to the end and never resolves itself in any easy manner.

Beautifully plotted, written and imagined, this had me utterly absorbed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Decent novel for those who enjoy a spooky ghost story with plenty of atmosphere and clever psychological twists.

The plot is complicated, slow to take off and never easy to guess. After a prolonged introduction to the two key characters, a married couple who have settled for what they can get rather than reached for what they want, the story takes off and becomes a rather punchy, dark ghost story with plenty of mystery. There's something happening all of the time to throw you off track. Just when you think you've got a handle of what's happening the author throws in another clue, a different angle, and makes you think again.

The hero of the story is a wealthy man complete with house in the country and membership of a private club in London. There's a lot of hunting, dinner parties and Land Rovers. He's obviously mixed up about a great many things, not the least of which is the strange disappearance of his father years ago, but once he experiences the first in a string of weird events the mystery begins. There's a nice play on the theme of reality v insanity or; is it really down to the supernatural after all?.

'The Girl on the Landing' is melodramatic and brooding. The story runs true to traditional ghost stories from the past in that it's more about building the story than it is about providing shocks. There's much here you'll recognise if you're a fan of supernatural fiction; dilapidated old house in the middle of nowhere, a disappearance, a marriage in trouble and hints of insanity. Paul Torday brings those themes up-to-date while paying obvious homage to much of what has gone before; Rebecca, Turn of the Screw and so forth.

I wouldn't say 'The Girl on the Landing' is scary, at least it wasn't for me, but what the novel has is a slowly building, dark atmosphere and a strong story-line which I found engaging. Didn't put me on the edge of my seat but certainly made me feel uncomfortable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Many reviews already refer to the theme of mental illness contained within this book and I won't spoil it for you by telling who it is that suffers from it. At first you are reading about a couple who seem unsuitably allied but are making a fist of it all, on a brief holiday to Ireland.

Elizabeth Gascoigne, the wife, emerges as a true heroine, solid, brave, realistic and unexpectedly devoted to her husband of a decade, Michael. He is old-school, landed gentry with a long standing affection for his club. This keeps him occupied and content, that is, until he descends the stairs at his host's house and notices a little painting that catches his interest.

Then everything changes. I wolfed this book down in one go on a train journey from Reading to Truro, and when you read it, you will understand why I kept looking up and down the carriage cautiously for a girl in an emerald green dress, ready to slip into the seat opposite me...

Paul Torday has resurrected the theme of a `throwback' such as used in The Fifth Child (Paladin Books), a book that has haunted me since I read it thirty years ago. He backs his story up with substantial, believable, clever research, so it's hard to draw the line between fact and fiction.

This novel keeps you in its grip as all the while you hope to goodness that it won't all fall apart and let you down; you have to trust the resourceful author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to carry his ideas through to an acceptable conclusion.

This he confidently does and the inevitable chilling finale unfolds with a little extra twist in a most satisfactory way. Surely a candidate for a thrilling tv drama treatment shortly?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2015
This story is about letting go, returning to a more wild state, a place before nations and nationalities a place where legends, sensual, sexual passions and the true savage live, a place where you follow your instincts till you howl at the moon. Commune with the goddess and hunt animal all animals, till you disappear into the primordial forest in your mind.
A marriage of convenience between two strangers, and old fashion life where modernity is intruding into the set British ways of doing things, old gentleman's clubs, fishing trips, boring social dinners, a boring boring life, where Michael unbenounced to everyone has began a plan of escape, transformation into a past where there were only primordial men and forests. The first glimmer is a girl in a painting, followed by her ever growing reality that awakens in him a surprising Michael, that sparks passion in his wife, even love, controversy in social circles and a dislocation of reality, that seeps like blood into every cranny.
Very well written, full of atmosphere and contradictory feelings for the reader, the characters are well written and the settings feel real and full of life. Avery different thriller that is not about capture but scape and there is where this book will have some detractors, it is not conclusive but open ended and even allegorical in its ending like the feelings it awakens in Michael; that like his namesake is a fallen angel of sorts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2012
I enjoyed the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and I expected this book to be rather good. Well, it wasn't. It has no style whatsoever to pull you in through the sheer power of language. And it doesn't have much of a story either. It's trying to take further a story of and about mental illness, but it doesn't pull it off. The characters are better developed than the story, but not exceptionally so. I wasn't compelled to finish reading the book, but since it's such a thin volume, I decided I would.

I didn't think this book was very deep in any way. I expected a skillful storyteller and writer and got instead a pretty bland book with very little substance. I wish there was more to praise about this book. The only thing that's relatively OK are the characters, but they don't move the story along. The whole book is rather disjointed. The narrator decided to reveal stuff now and then (and too much of his asides look overblown, lecture-like) and the characters have to get on that wave. But it doesn't flow naturally.

I give it 1.8 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2009
This was an easy read - you could do it in an evening. Unusual background to Michael, the main charater. I did find it a bit far fetched and as is usual with these types of 'ghost' stories, the ending has to be a bit ambiguous. However it was a good story and I was pulled in.
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