Posted 20 hours ago

Uncle Paul: Welcome to the Nightmare Summer Holiday

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All augmented by sinister happenings that might be real or imaginary: the sound of footsteps outside; the creaking of a wardrobe within; the brush of something unknown against the cheek. And as with Taylor's novels that sense of the Victorian era - how else to explain the several anecdotes from an elderly lady in her button-up boots.

The tension managed to build almost imperceptibly as the characters go about their seaside holiday with trip to the beach, fairground and hotels, all the whole the sisters start to worry about the people they are spending time with, could one of them be Uncle Paul in disguise?I suppose you could say the story's focus is on the way we construct our realities, and how easy it is to lose the thread of our own truth, especially when danger threatens.

It wasn't fun - mildly entertaining at best - and rather predictable in its plot lines - and revelations - although I didn't imagine that Mildred could be as mean as she turned out to be - warped in her mind apparently by her long lost love for - Uncle Paul. Originally written in 1959 and reissued now, it's hard to fathom why exactly this is a Waterstones Crime Pick of the Month, given the abundance of new crime writing that arrives every week. Several months ago, I read The Hours Before Dawn, one of the most electrifying thrillers that I can ever remember reading. I think it delivered - well, I was satisfied - but I wouldn’t say this is to the level of Patricia Highsmith. It would be great if Faber carry on with these Fremlin reissues as they have quite a few in their Faber Finds series – The Parasite Person included!Both Mildred and Isabel seem to think that Paul is now out of prison and coming for revenge on one or all of the sisters who caused his incarceration. It’s like water running down a drain pipe - it couldn’t go any other way, But the Ugly Sisters - Ah, that’s the challenge!

Even with a bit of eye-rolling, this was a quick read and comes in toward the bottom of the 3-star group. Many thanks to Netgalley and Faber and Faber for a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. I loved the balance between tension and normality in this one, and the humour played a key role in diffusing some of that angst. For Mildred, clearly the main worry is that Paul is out and intent on taking revenge for her betrayal in exposing his identity. All the organisation, the packing, the high expectations and then the panic that after all that effort, nobody seems to be having fun.It’s quite a short book and although not that much happens along the way I found myself really wanting to know what happens but it’s not till towards the end of the book does the pace quicken and everything falls into place. With Paul possibly released from prison, could increasingly spooky happenings indicate his presence and increasing danger for the trio?

It’s exactly what I said—now she’s back in the comforts of civilisation, she can’t be bothered any more with footsteps and shadows from the past. In a spooky coincidence - or is it - said cottage turns out to be the same one that Mildred rented during a holiday fifteen years before, her ill-fated honeymoon to the titular Paul, a man who was shortly afterwards arrested for the attempted murder of his first wife.Fremlin breeds monsters from the minutiae of life and shows how lack of love and loneliness can cause them . Perhaps this is unsurprising - I identified strongly with the first novel's sleep-deprived protagonist and never felt the same sense of kinship with any of the characters here. Home to William Golding, Sylvia Plath, Kazuo Ishiguro, Sally Rooney, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Max Porter, Ingrid Persaud, Anna Burns and Rachel Cusk, among many others, Faber is proud to publish some of the greatest novelists from the early twentieth century to today. As the novel opens, Meg receives a telegram summoning her to the seaside resort where Isabel and her family are holidaying in a caravan. The title to be read and discussed is sign-posted and on sale for the whole of the previous month (with a discount for those who make it known they intend to come) and everybody is welcome, whether first-timer, part-timer or regular-timer.

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