Book Review – The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett

Welcome to a wild ride from Shirley Barrett.

Australian Author – check

Australian setting – check

Humour – check

Creepy weird AF story – check

I got this ripper from my Street Library and I don’t regret it. The protagonist, Eleanor, tells it like it is, with all the Aussie slang and references (as well as swear words) she can muster.

Written in a blog/diary entry form, it made for an easy read that was entertaining and kooky. It might be written a little too casually for some, but I enjoyed it and felt it was refreshing to read something a little more relaxed.

I mean, it is written by one of the directors of the tv show Offspring (Australian soap) and I certainly see some similarities in that Eleanor has an internal dialouge that isn’t unlike Nina’s in Offspring. Offspring is one of my favourite tv shows…so it all makes sense.

This book might not translate very well for international readers, due to Aussie terms and references. If you can get past that and the curse words you will enjoy the humour and weirdo storyline.

I don’t think I can say that Eleanor is a particularly likeable character, but she is relatable…well…sort of, if you can see yourself making passes at your elderly doctor or discussing exorcising demons at the local church. Eleanor finds herself in some interesting situations when she gets a new teaching job in a small town – most of which are funny, strange or confusing.

There were times when I didn’t know where the story was going or if it was in fact going anywhere, but I had gotten so far in that I didn’t mind the commitment and I had invested myself to reading Eleanor’s story. Perhaps I liked her more than I’m happy to admit.

The new town is full of crazy characters and whilst Eleanor might seem like one of the ‘normal’ ones, she herself has some questionable behaviours. Actually, she fits right in.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any more quirky in this story, there is what I like to call an “Evil Dead” moment. I’ll say no more, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll likely put two and two together. I’ll just say, I enjoyed it.

If you love the weird and wonderful, interesting characters and a touch of the supernatural you will enjoy this book – just don’t expect to be given all the answers and don’t take it too seriously.

Synopsis

Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her

It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.

One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters.

Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.

Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a wickedly weird, wild ride for fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, and Stephen King.

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