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Platform Seven

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Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge. Two deaths on Platform Seven. Two fatalities in eighteen months - surely they're connected? No one is more desperate to understand what connects them than Lisa Evans herself. After all, she was the first of the two to die.


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Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge. Two deaths on Platform Seven. Two fatalities in eighteen months - surely they're connected? No one is more desperate to understand what connects them than Lisa Evans herself. After all, she was the first of the two to die.

30 review for Platform Seven

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is an unnerving, chilling and deeply unsettling novel from Louise Doughty, a literary blend of haunting ghost story and thriller revolving around two suicides that take place on the eponymous Platform Seven at Peterborough Station. In the very early hours of a bitterly cold November morning, a man makes his way to an isolated part of the station, far from any member of staff, thinking himself entirely alone as he walks purposefully to the edge of the platform. He is not alone, he is closely This is an unnerving, chilling and deeply unsettling novel from Louise Doughty, a literary blend of haunting ghost story and thriller revolving around two suicides that take place on the eponymous Platform Seven at Peterborough Station. In the very early hours of a bitterly cold November morning, a man makes his way to an isolated part of the station, far from any member of staff, thinking himself entirely alone as he walks purposefully to the edge of the platform. He is not alone, he is closely observed by the ghost of Lisa Evans, a secondary school teacher who had herself committed suicide there, but she is unable to intervene and prevent the tragedy that ensues. Unusually, the story is narrated by Lisa's ghost. Amidst the background of every day life, conversations and ordinariness of the busy Peterborough Station, we learn about the repercussions of the suicides on station staff and others, such as a young police officer. As the narrative unfolds, we learn of Lisa's disturbing relationship with Dr Matthew Goodison, a man who turned out not to be who he first appeared to be, a controlling, coercive and abusive man, and members of Lisa's family. In a painfully realistic manner, Doughty outlines the difficulties of leaving abusive partners, and that unfortunately, justice is not always the end result. Despite the harrowing nature of the subject matter, Doughty manages to infuse the book with the spirit of hope that makes reading this a bearable experience. This is a compulsive read, beautifully written, with vibrant characterisation, sensitive in its approach to its emotionally upsetting issues. It touches on tragedies, grief, love, hate, loss, suffering and domestic drama, and of finally understanding that we are not as alone as we may think. This is an emotionally engaging read that touches on a vitally important issue in society, a roller coaster of a book which packs a punch. Many thanks to Faber and Faber for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    I’ve read several books by Louise Doughty and liked them all but I thought this one was breathtakingly good and arguably her best book yet. I couldn’t put it down and was gripped from the start in this twisty tale. . I don’t want to say much about the plot as it would spoil it for future readers so suffice it to say it concerns what happened to Lisa Evans at Peterborough station. The atmosphere in the book was fantastic throughout and you could picture the action on Platform 7 and elsewhere. The I’ve read several books by Louise Doughty and liked them all but I thought this one was breathtakingly good and arguably her best book yet. I couldn’t put it down and was gripped from the start in this twisty tale. . I don’t want to say much about the plot as it would spoil it for future readers so suffice it to say it concerns what happened to Lisa Evans at Peterborough station. The atmosphere in the book was fantastic throughout and you could picture the action on Platform 7 and elsewhere. The book gave me so many different emotions from intrigue to empathy to shock and anger. The tension was released through little flashes of humour which I appreciated. There was a real hint of menace at times which was almost palpable. The characters were easy to picture and most of them were very likeable and sympathetic with the exception of Matt. This book showed how one event can set off a chain reaction which led to disaster. There were several themes - control and possession, love and loss, abuse and learning to recover, anger and helplessness. The ending was good and I liked the optimistic way the novel finished. It’s an unusual and daring idea to set a story in and around a station but it so worked. The author captured the hustle and bustle but also that stations can be the scene of tragedy in this superbly different story. Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    The ghost of a girl killed by a train at Platform Seven is trapped in the station. She spends her time observing the passengers and staff. Early one morning a man at the end of the platform falls in front of a train. Slowly Lisa's memory begins to return and now she remembers her name and the events leading up to her death. This was a slow moving tale about relationships and consequences. Thanks you to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for my e-copy copy in exchange for an honest review. The ghost of a girl killed by a train at Platform Seven is trapped in the station. She spends her time observing the passengers and staff. Early one morning a man at the end of the platform falls in front of a train. Slowly Lisa's memory begins to return and now she remembers her name and the events leading up to her death. This was a slow moving tale about relationships and consequences. Thanks you to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for my e-copy copy in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    I made the same mistake that women and girls throughout the ages and across continents have so often made, the one that is so easy, so seductive, so flattering to ourselves. I mistook possessiveness for love. While this doesn't have the immediate compulsive grab of Doughty's Apple Tree Yard, it ends up being a more mature book by the end. Do stick with it, though - I found the first 25-30% hard going and difficult to pick up the tail of the narrative: but by the time Lisa starts telling her own story of I made the same mistake that women and girls throughout the ages and across continents have so often made, the one that is so easy, so seductive, so flattering to ourselves. I mistook possessiveness for love. While this doesn't have the immediate compulsive grab of Doughty's Apple Tree Yard, it ends up being a more mature book by the end. Do stick with it, though - I found the first 25-30% hard going and difficult to pick up the tail of the narrative: but by the time Lisa starts telling her own story of her life with Matty, I was hooked. There are definite shades of Into the Darkest Corner and Killing Me Softly, and a strength is Doughty's forensic application of detail and specificity as Lisa's fairy-tale romance starts to drip-feed unease before turning down some dark routes. It's only gradually that the range of characters introduced at the start begin to make sense - and I love the way Doughty balances a troubling vision with something more life enhancing and positive. A page-turner, then, that also deals intelligently with emotive and important topics. Many thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC via NetGalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Platform Seven is beautifully written I sank into the writing of it - and the premise was clever and involving. Told from the point of view of a ghost, haunting a train station, there is a mix of mystery and drama that was immediately engaging. A 5* rating seemed likely, however I became less enamoured with the actual story by the time I was at the halfway stage. The prose and the way Louise Doughty uses language is second to none but genuinely I did feel it went on a bit. And on..and Platform Seven is beautifully written I sank into the writing of it - and the premise was clever and involving. Told from the point of view of a ghost, haunting a train station, there is a mix of mystery and drama that was immediately engaging. A 5* rating seemed likely, however I became less enamoured with the actual story by the time I was at the halfway stage. The prose and the way Louise Doughty uses language is second to none but genuinely I did feel it went on a bit. And on..and then on a bit more. As the ghostly figure endlessly drifted and self contemplated so did my mind wander. The character drama elements were wonderfully done as you learned more about the people working at the station, the background to the Platform Seven suicides, but I do feel a good chunk of the middle had too much nothing happening. Overall a good read that in my personal subjective opinion could do with a more hefty edit - beginning and ending magnificently but losing cohesion at the centre. Still recommended though. Especially if like me you live for those odd quirky beautiful sentences that hit you when you are reading a genuinely talented writers work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Platform Seven is Ms Doughty's ninth thriller and this time the paranormal plays a substantial part in the story as our narrator is actually a ghost. It's a very dark and unsettling read with a real sense of mystery and a fiendishly twisty narrative full of surprises. It broaches some important issues sensitively and compassionately too and given that we rarely see the issue of suicide depicted in a fictional manner (although Peterborough Station is very much real) I thought it was brave and adm Platform Seven is Ms Doughty's ninth thriller and this time the paranormal plays a substantial part in the story as our narrator is actually a ghost. It's a very dark and unsettling read with a real sense of mystery and a fiendishly twisty narrative full of surprises. It broaches some important issues sensitively and compassionately too and given that we rarely see the issue of suicide depicted in a fictional manner (although Peterborough Station is very much real) I thought it was brave and admirable. The atmosphere was built up until it became quite oppressive and the story genuinely chilling. I rarely get rattled by a book, but Doughty has penned a disturbing ghost tale that really got under my skin. Despite this, it was a compulsively readable and exquisitely written tale that deserves a wide readership. The unnerving story follows two suicides that have taken place on Platform Seven and the impact that they had on not only the family and friends of the victims but all of the people involved including station staff, police and medical professionals. Sadly, as with all things, these deaths are only present in people's minds for a short time and then he busyness of the station and everyday life once again takes over. The narrative also touches on Lisa's experience at the hands of an abusive partner; it's not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination because of the potent topics it explores, but somehow the feeling of hope is still alive and kicking despite this. Overall, Platform Seven is an emotional story with characters that leap off the pages and into your heart and a plot that is as original as it is gripping. Many thanks to Faber & Faber for an ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    ★★★✰✰ 3 stars In spite of its flaws Platform Seven is a lot more thoughtful than one might expect from its murder mystery premise. “There was a man on the station only two hours ago who will never go home again.” One of the least successful aspects of this book is that it tries, and doesn't really succeed, in combining two different genres and concepts together. The first 30% or so of this novel proposes a slow and atmospheric take on the ghost story. Louise Doughty's use of the supernatural, although patchy, allows her ★★★✰✰ 3 stars In spite of its flaws Platform Seven is a lot more thoughtful than one might expect from its murder mystery premise. “There was a man on the station only two hours ago who will never go home again.” One of the least successful aspects of this book is that it tries, and doesn't really succeed, in combining two different genres and concepts together. The first 30% or so of this novel proposes a slow and atmospheric take on the ghost story. Louise Doughty's use of the supernatural, although patchy, allows her to create a mosaic of the lives and troubles of the people working at Peterborough Railway Station. Forgotten and largely overlooked, they are forced to deal with horrific situations such as suicides. Through Lisa Evans, the ghost of a suicide victim, we follow some of the night staff in their everyday lives. Lisa is somehow able to tell what these people feel and think, and there is a sense of quiet resignation in the people she observes. Although depressive, very much so, it was interesting to glimpse the fears and desires of the people observed by ghost-Lisa. I found Dalmar, Tom, Melissa, and Andrew's lives interesting and affecting. “What is the point where a human being stops being a human being and becomes a thing? Most people think it happens with death but Dalmar knows it can happen a long time before then if it needs to, so that other people can bear what they are seeing. ” At times being reminded that we were seeing their lives through ghost-Lisa seemed to offset how realistic these characters were. Ghost-Lisa herself seems to fluctuated between being “a ghost, invisible and silent, nothing but consciousness” who doesn't have memories of her past, a body, or a sense of her own humanity (“When you don’t have a body, time is no longer even or consistent: it stretches and bends, folds in on itself. ”) little more than an impassive and intangible observer, and yet, she also comes across as the cliché of a ghost, one that wouldn't be out of place in A Christmas Carol. As the narrative slowly progresses ghost-Lisa seems increasingly incongruous. Although she initially stresses that she is a mere consciousness with no links to her past, she can also 'see', 'float', and move her human-shaped-ghost-body. Because of this I was never able to immerse myself in what she was narrating, and part of me wishes that it had all been narrated from a third perspective as it would have made ghost-Lisa slightly less off-key and more convincing. As ghost-Lisa becomes preoccupied with the latest suicide on 'her' platform she somehow becomes able to remember her own past. The switch between ghost-story to a tale of an abusive-relationship is quite jarring. Rather than presenting us with Lisa's whole life, Louise Doughty focuses on the last few years before her death, depicting a detailed, occasionally frustratingly so, portrait of the relationship between Lisa and her boyfriend. We follow them through nerve-racking dinners to conversations and fights that draw attention to the secret and concealed violence that dictates her boyfriend's behaviour towards her. Lisa recounts how time and again she glossed over his increasingly manipulative behaviour towards her. The realisation that her beloved boyfriend Matty is a toxic little sh*t is a slow one and first we are forced to watch as Lisa becomes increasingly alienated from her life and daily existence because of him. While I could sort of emphasise with Lisa's difficultly in reconciling herself with her abusive relationship it a bit weird that this came to her as a 'surprise'...from their very first meeting he acts in a perturbing way towards her. Other people think that he is charming-golden-boy...but I never saw that either. Late in the novel he sings her song during her birthday party but I'm not sure that singing one song would make her friends and family believe that he is the perfect boyfriend. As ghost-Lisa sort of pre-warns us about Matty's true character, my perception of him never changed: from his first appearance to his last one he struck me as a horrible manipulator. The scenes which feature their deteriorating relationship could at times be very repetitive and part of me wishes that we could have been properly introduced to Lisa before her relationship with Matty. At times her role seems to be confined to that of 'victim' (not that she isn't a victim but her roles seemed to be restricted to that of Matty's girlfriend) . I wish more of her personality had come through rather than having such a large part of the narrative focus on how paranoid and anxious she became during her relationship with Matty. More could have been made of her relationship with her family and best friend, so we could have at least seen Lisa 'without' Matty. The pacing of the story was rather uneven. Occasionally the slow and ambiguous narrative could create and build tension. For example, Doughty emphasises Lisa's unease during a fight with Matty at their favourite restaurant by dragging out the description of a pepper mill: “As he turned it over our plates, coal-black chunks of pepper fell from the end and the grinding blades made a squeaking sound like the iron wheels of a very old train creaking slowly into motion. I felt plunged into seriousness, all at once, as if I had been missing something important in the debate we had just had, as if I should have known what it was but was too dim to work it out. The squeaking of the pepper mill set my teeth on edge. I realised the waiter was going to keep going until I told him to stop, so I lifted my hand.” In other instances however Doughty seems to loose herself in detailed and irrelevant descriptions. A few pages are wasted on ghost-Lisa taking a gander through a Waitrose where she is repeatedly amazed by the items they sell: “Since when did doughnuts come in so many flavours; lemon icing, raspberry icing, salted caramel icing? It isn’t just the doughnuts. I traverse the aisles. Ice cream sauce comes in creamy fudge flavour, Belgian chocolate flavour, raspberry coulis flavour and – my favourite – Alphonso mango, passion fruit and yuzu. What is a yuzu? Is an Alphonso mango significantly different from any other kind of mango […] then I go and confirm my suspicions about carrots: they are, of course, even more orange than I remember […] on my way out, I drift along the salad bar, glancing into the tubs of salad one by one, wondering why so many of them contain kidney beans.” That scene lasted way longer than it should have and it didn't really serve any purpose other than a weak reassertion that ghost-Lisa has few memories of her life. Overall I think that the idea was better than the execution. There were scenes which were both powerful and horrific, but more often than not these were lost in a painstakingly redundant narrative which repeatedly looses itself in digressions that added very little to the overarching story. Platform Seven seemed to contain two different books. A not entirely convincing supernatural ghost-story (where much is made of the coincidence of two suicides at the same platform) in which ghost-Lisa follows others around, making occasionally thought-provoking deliberations but frequently resorts cookie-like musing. The other narrative is an uncomfortably close look at how vicious and insidious an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship can be. We see how Matty uses his job as a doctor to guilt-trip Lisa, how he deliberately works to erase her sense of self, her self-esteem, and her happiness. While I wouldn't necessarily say that I 'enjoyed' reading this (given that the novel deals with many different forms of abuse) Doughty's approach to this subject was interesting and refreshing. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  8. 5 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    Really enjoyable, well-written, literary, thriller-y type novel. It's narrated by a ghost - Lisa - who has died on Platform Seven of Peterborough Station a short while after a man committed suicide there. As her memories gradually come back, we return to the time when Lisa was alive, and the events that led to her death. Lisa is also able to visit people who work at the station or are just travelling through and we get to know parts of their lives too - which was really well done. Everyone was c Really enjoyable, well-written, literary, thriller-y type novel. It's narrated by a ghost - Lisa - who has died on Platform Seven of Peterborough Station a short while after a man committed suicide there. As her memories gradually come back, we return to the time when Lisa was alive, and the events that led to her death. Lisa is also able to visit people who work at the station or are just travelling through and we get to know parts of their lives too - which was really well done. Everyone was completely real, the story was perfectly paced, and I was desperate to find out what happened. (My only reason for 4 stars and not 5, is that what 'powers' Doughty gives Lisa sometimes seemed a little too convenient and simply there for the story. Some people's minds she can read, but not everyone all the time, she can pass through windows and people but has to catch a train to go any distance, sometimes she can influence people but not always etc.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gram

    An intriguing mix of psychological thriller and ghost story - and much more. It begins with details of the late night/early morning events at a railway station in eastern England and the staff who work there. At 4 on a freezing November morning, Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. An unseen narrator, whose name we learn later is Lisa, notes the appearance of an elderly man who is sitting on a bench at the far end of Platform 7. Lisa knows what the man is thinking, but she is powerless to s An intriguing mix of psychological thriller and ghost story - and much more. It begins with details of the late night/early morning events at a railway station in eastern England and the staff who work there. At 4 on a freezing November morning, Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. An unseen narrator, whose name we learn later is Lisa, notes the appearance of an elderly man who is sitting on a bench at the far end of Platform 7. Lisa knows what the man is thinking, but she is powerless to save him. Soon afterwards, he walks to edge of the platform and, as a goods train thunders through the station, he falls on to the tracks. What follows is an almost mundane account of the aftermath of this man's suicide as various members of staff try to cope with what has happened. It is particularly harrowing for Dalmar, an immigrant working at the station, who saw the man and yelled a warning just before he jumped. There's a seriously grim description of the clean-up crew removing the pieces of the body from the railway line which has a particularly unsettling effect on a young police officer, PC Lockhart. This is the 2nd death on Platform Seven in 18 months and Lisa was the first of the two who died. She feels these deaths are somehow connected. Lisa is our "spirit guide" throughout this book. Through her we eavesdrop on conversations and even the thoughts of various characters, especially a young man called Caleb on whom she becomes fixated. Gradually, we learn more about Lisa, her former life and the reason she is trapped in Peterborough Railway Station. As she makes desperate attempts to communicate with the living, there's a dramatic change in her circumstances. This is a dark, unsettling read in places but also an uplifting, almost spiritual tale which will ultimately reward the reader. Many thanks to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Grace Nielsen

    I couldn't put this book down. It twists and turns so you are unsure of what the focus of the story is but I really enjoyed that about it. I don't want to give anything away but I encourage people to read this as it is a fab book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Louise Doughty is an author I only know about because of her twisty novel Apple Tree Yard. I enjoyed this well enough, but hadn't picked up another of her books until I was given a review copy of Platform Seven. The novel was not quite what I was expecting, but I found it interesting from the outset. The narrative is compelling, and the story takes twists and turns which held my attention. It is literary but easy to read, and is a novel which I certainly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Fernandez

    Contains some mild and possibly helpful spoilers Platform Seven by Louise Doughty is an incredibly ambitious novel. At its most basic, it is an exploration of a coercive relationship, but it has plenty to say about the value of life and the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live and work. Most audaciously, the narrator is dead, which makes Doughty literally a ghost writer. There are times when the resulting book rivals anything else I will read this year, and even Contains some mild and possibly helpful spoilers Platform Seven by Louise Doughty is an incredibly ambitious novel. At its most basic, it is an exploration of a coercive relationship, but it has plenty to say about the value of life and the lives of individuals and the communities in which they live and work. Most audaciously, the narrator is dead, which makes Doughty literally a ghost writer. There are times when the resulting book rivals anything else I will read this year, and even when the novel stumbles there is plenty to consider. The plot falls into four main phases. The first sets up the concept, with the ghost of Lisa Evans hanging around Peterborough station. We don’t know why she is there (she can’t remember) or what she can do: her boundaries are both well- and ill-defined. She can’t, at the start, leave the station nor can she really interact with the living. We are intrigued, and we learn heaps about what really happens behind the scenes and what the lives of the station staff are like. Doughty doesn’t need to spell it out but she uses Evans’ ghostly nature as an elaborate metaphor for the human spirit. Evans is an engaging and witty narrator with matter-of-fact views about relationships and slightly self-deprecating remarks about cornflakes and Ryanair. She comes across as a perceptive and articulate everywoman, and we like her and the majority of the other characters. If the ghostly rules of engagement aren’t exactly defined, Doughty has some parallels to do with time-bending (when the clocks go back and forward) or dawn blurs into a new day. It’s not entirely convincing – unlike the accounts of the working of the station which seem utterly realistic – but it’s charming and we’re more than happy to go along with it. But by the end of the second phase, the what has been set out, even if we don’t know the how and the why. We realise that the link between Evans and a suicide victim is not quite what it seems. Evans has realised that her former boyfriend, Matty, is responsible for her death. The third phase explores the relationship between Lisa and Matty. We know Matty is not a good man, which in some ways blunts the description of coercive control (by the time each episode of abuse occurs we’re already braced and waiting) but which leaves Doughty free to consider other types of power in relationships, including the ever-harrowing subject of child abuse. (Doughty tackles it extremely carefully: indeed it is not really described though the consequences for the victims are.) There are some really biting moments here. Lisa’s own personal philosophy is to embrace contentment – she was quietly happy before Matty’s arrival and there is an undercurrent through which we are asked why we tolerate the Matties in our midst. (And we are shown how to spot them.) Lisa didn’t have the measure of him at the time, but now says, of the moment the police tell him of her death, He believed himself to be a man who, through no fault of his own, had suffered a terrible bereavement. A sentence that works on so many levels it is practically a multi-storey car park. Finally, Doughty wraps things up. By that I mean that she explores how different characters have reacted or will react to the various events of the story. That might sound a bit basic, but Doughty makes it anything but. Despite the supernatural elements of the novel, Platform Seven is all about people making sense of their surroundings or situation, getting on, getting by, following a path or designing one for themselves. The range of characters before us is carefully assembled and we watch them all search for the thrilling within the mundane. Lisa herself needs to come to terms with her situation but the denouement doesn’t quite work for me. I am not sure why. Lisa absolutely owns the right to make the decision she does, and it’s in character. If pushed, I think it is because her declaration about it is triumphant which is understandable but jarring. I wonder if that’s what Doughty had in mind: to make us realise that we judge the outsider, the sad-hearted and even the dead. Instead of rushing to criticise, we should take joy in the vibrant and vivid colour of carrots. I really liked Platform Seven. I think you have to be prepared to engage with it and you won’t agree with it all. But it’s definitely worth a go. And you’ll always look out for Peterborough on the railway map.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gigi H

    DNF Unfortunately, this book was not what I thought it would be. Because it's told through the eyes of a ghost, I was expecting a much creepier story. Instead, the main character spends a lot of time observing others at the train station and getting lost in her own thoughts, which I found tiresome. The premise sounded promising, but the story just didn't hold my attention long enough for me to want to continue. Thank you Netgalley and Faber & Faber for my eARC

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Never would I have imagined that a novel set on and around Peterborough railway station would have me so entranced. And it's narrated by a bloody ghost as well. It's a mix of human story, crime and mystery, spookiness and love.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    Lisa Evans is dead. She now exists as a ghost haunting Platform 7 at Peterborough station where she met her death at just 36. She has no memory of how she died, but as the novel progresses both she and we the readers discover the back story and we meet her family, her friends and her doctor boyfriend. Slowly the mystery unfolds. In the first third of the book Lisa is trapped on the station and can only observe what's going on – Platform 7 is in fact a known suicide spot – but the second, and for Lisa Evans is dead. She now exists as a ghost haunting Platform 7 at Peterborough station where she met her death at just 36. She has no memory of how she died, but as the novel progresses both she and we the readers discover the back story and we meet her family, her friends and her doctor boyfriend. Slowly the mystery unfolds. In the first third of the book Lisa is trapped on the station and can only observe what's going on – Platform 7 is in fact a known suicide spot – but the second, and for me most successful third of the book is her story and in particular her relationship with her controlling boyfriend. The last third of the book brings all the strands together. I very much enjoyed the whole book but there were elements that sat uncomfortably with me. Lisa’s life story is engaging and told with insight and empathy. The relationship with her boyfriend is particularly well done, and quite chilling. I found it easy to accept Lisa as an omniscient ghost-narrator – although you do have to suspend disbelief - and felt that overall the device worked well. I also enjoyed meeting the staff at Peterborough and exploring their day to day lives. However I felt that the supernatural element was overplayed and sat uneasily with the more gritty, realistic aspects of the book. I struggled with the idea of all these ghosts wafting around. There were also just too many subplots, which detracted from the main narrative and added little to it. And the ending was far too sentimental for what is essentially a tragic tale. Excellent writing, good characterisation, an acute ear for dialogue, and some interesting ideas - but too many ghosts.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melanie’s reads

    Every now and again there comes along a book that’s so special it makes you look at life a little differently, makes you question what you think you know and choices you have made. The writing is so evocative and lyrical, which is at complete odds as the subjects are dark and harrowing, but it works, boy does it work. The main protagonist Lisa is a ghost, wandering Peterborough Railway Station, she knows she has died but doesn’t know who she is. As she pieces together shots of memory Every now and again there comes along a book that’s so special it makes you look at life a little differently, makes you question what you think you know and choices you have made. The writing is so evocative and lyrical, which is at complete odds as the subjects are dark and harrowing, but it works, boy does it work. The main protagonist Lisa is a ghost, wandering Peterborough Railway Station, she knows she has died but doesn’t know who she is. As she pieces together shots of memory with information she overhears from the station staff you learn of the life she lead and the people she knew. This is the real strength of the book, the characters are people you may know in your everyday life, the best friend who has your back, the mum and dad who are annoying but you love all the same, the boyfriend who isn’t right for you but it’s better than being alone. The drab ordinary settings of a Railway station and a poky flat and the monotony of a mundane life. This could have been a really depressing read but Louise has magically turned it into an ultimately uplifting life affirming tale. The small observations about the clock changes made me realise I was reading something completely different to anything I had read before. Louise Doughty notices things and in turn you start noticing things too. This isn’t an easy read, it’s a story of suicide, mental health, gaslighting, domestic abuse, loss and grief but what I took from it more than anything is it’s about love in all forms and the connections we make.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bunny21

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Platform Seven Having spent a bit of time hanging round Peterborough train station over the years, I thought it seemed an unpromising place to set a novel, but Louise Doughty has proved me wrong. In Platform Seven, she weaves an unmissable whodunnit where Lisa tries to understand why she died. The book opens following security guard Dalmar, a refugee from Somalia, as he carries out his night shift. After midnight the station goes quiet and most people might assume it is clo Platform Seven Having spent a bit of time hanging round Peterborough train station over the years, I thought it seemed an unpromising place to set a novel, but Louise Doughty has proved me wrong. In Platform Seven, she weaves an unmissable whodunnit where Lisa tries to understand why she died. The book opens following security guard Dalmar, a refugee from Somalia, as he carries out his night shift. After midnight the station goes quiet and most people might assume it is closed, but it runs with a skeleton staff and between the hours of 3am and 6am only freight trains rumble through at platform seven. This is the last platform, towards the back of the station and only partially viewable by CCTV. It is the perfect place for homeless people to hide out and try to sneak into the warmth of the waiting room for a few hours. Dalmar has been desperate, so sometimes he doesn’t have the heart to move them on, feigning ignorance so they can grab s few moments of warmth. At first, he mistakes the man walking through the station, for a homeless person and pays no attention. The man, wearing a cap and donkey jacket makes for platform seven and waits. To Dalmar he seemed hunched in the cold and seems to almost be in a trance. There is only one other witness to his arrival and that is Lisa. Lisa is trapped in the station, she knows all the staff by name but can’t get them to see and here her. On this occasion she is sure she understands the desperation in this mans eyes and she worries he isn’t here for the warmth. As a freight train trundles towards the station he steps towards the platform edge and Lisa desperately tries to stop him but he can’t hear her. Dalmar finally sees the man but is too far away to make a difference. He shouts, But the man keeps going. He steps through Lisa and straight under the train. Doughty explores the effect this man’s suicide has, firstly on the railway staff. PC Ashcroft from the British Transport Police, and his boss face the task together. Ashcroft has never experienced a death here before and the horrifying detail of gathering body parts, sorting through clothing to look for ID and organising a cleaning team affects him and us at the same time. He doesn’t want to break down but struggles and wants to understand what could make a man die like this? Dalmar, who witnesses the incident with Lisa, suffers a flashback triggered by the event. We are transported back to a dinghy on a river and a woman’s head seemingly floating and screaming at the same time. Lisa wanted to stop him, is horrified by what she’s seen and the realisation that this is how died too. In the days that follow Lisa becomes fascinated with a distraught young man she sees in the cafe while Ashcroft discovers that a young woman died recently on the same platform. Something about Lisa’s death piques his interest and makes him wonder whether the events leading up to her apparent suicide are properly investigated. He asks if he can do some digging and gets the go ahead. Lisa also has a breakthrough, she finds that she can follow the young man out of the station and accompanies him on his walk home. This begins her wanderings and the unlocking of her story. Doughty’s description of the romance between Lisa and her doctor boyfriend, Matty, is brilliantly written and shows a real understanding of domestic abuse. Psychological or emotional abuse has only been made a criminal offence more recently, but it is subtle and difficult to pinpoint even for the victim. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for five years and despite having therapy there are still times when I am confused about how and why I let this happen. Of course I’m not responsible for the abuse, but I was responsible for allowing it to continue. We see how slow and subtle the behaviour begins; a throwaway comment that could be a criticism, a moment of jealousy, an insistence that a hurtful comment was simply a joke and you’re too sensitive. I highlighted a whole passage to use with writing therapy clients: The sad, sobering and undramatic truth is, I made the same mistake that women and girls throughout the ages and across continents have so often made, the one that is so easy and seductive, so flattering to ourselves. I mistook possessiveness for love. By the time I realised the magnitude of that mistake, I had too much invested in it to unpack it, and so I had to keep on making it in order to justify the fact that I had made it in the first place. It was too large and complex an error to admit–and how could I explain I had made a mistake to family and friends when I didn’t even understand how I had made it myself? This is a beautiful piece of writing that answers perfectly the question everyone asks; ‘why didn’t you leave?’ When asked by my family why I’d never told them, the answer was the same. My husband had died, I had been broken and this person professed to love me. I was ready for something positive to happen in my life. I glossed over a couple of red flags because he was stressed at work, or moving house and as well as an excuse there were promises to change. If I admitted that my relationship was a sham I would have to admit there was no happy ending and I would be back where I started: bereaved, broken and alone. It took me five years to admit to others and myself that I had to leave. I’d had to gather my strength over time and eventually he behaved so badly I couldn’t gloss over it any more. I was aware reading Lisa’s story that things could have been so much worse. Matty breaks her confidence and gaslights her until she doesn’t even trust her own judgement anymore. The outcome is devastating. I really enjoyed the way Doughty slowly frees Lisa. Firstly, she is liberated from the station, then finds a way to whisper a suggestion, she travels all over Peterborough and even beyond the city towards the end. She finds others like her: the old man from the station suicide pops up soon after his death; a woman in an orange suit striding towards the station; the weird grey blob at the top of the multi-storey car park who she knows to stay away from. However, there are places she wants to be. Most importantly, a visit to the woman she once saw through a window who seemed to need help. Doughty’s book is a great thriller and all those cliches we all know so well like ‘a real page turner’ and ‘I couldn’t put it down’ were all true. But the book was more than that. Lisa’s story absolved me in a way. It made me understand my own experience like nothing else has. It taught me to talk, just as Lisa wishes she’d acknowledged the woman at the window or talked to someone about what was happening. I found PC Ashcroft’s conversation with the downstairs neighbour so moving. Her language barrier and Lisa’s reticence to let anyone in meant that her warning ‘you don’t have to put up’ was barely noticed. Yet her warning came from her own experience of fear, control and violence. We need to talk more. To not be ashamed of our experience. After all, I didn’t ask to be a victim of psychological abuse and nor did the women in the book. We can use our experience to educate, warn and let others know that this is not their fault. Lisa has to find peace in a different way, but this book serves as a warning, so women suffering abuse know they can access help and there is a better, more peaceful life out there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vikki Patis

    When I tried to explain this book to my partner, the only way to describe it was: 'it's really weird but really good'. Platform Seven is a unique book, not only because it is told from the perspective of a ghost, but because it reads like a coming-of-age story, as Lisa follows her past in order to release her spirit. We watch her watch herself, watch her understanding develop. Through the relationship with Matty, with her parents, the united front who always irritated her, with her friends and c When I tried to explain this book to my partner, the only way to describe it was: 'it's really weird but really good'. Platform Seven is a unique book, not only because it is told from the perspective of a ghost, but because it reads like a coming-of-age story, as Lisa follows her past in order to release her spirit. We watch her watch herself, watch her understanding develop. Through the relationship with Matty, with her parents, the united front who always irritated her, with her friends and colleagues and alone in her flat, her thoughts and feelings as the years seemed to rush by. Platform Seven is a gripping, winding tale of life, death, and the space in between, the space where we find love and truth and ourselves.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fay Flude

    This is one of the best books I have read in some while. An emotionally intelligent tale, Louis Doughty has crafted the most beautiful, heart-breaking, original and poignant way to portray emotional abuse, love in all its forms and how we learn to let go. The story is narrated by a ghost, Lisa, who is trapped on Platform Seven of Peterborough train station, where her life ended. The story starts with a man who commits suicide by jumping in front of a freight train in spite of Lisa reco This is one of the best books I have read in some while. An emotionally intelligent tale, Louis Doughty has crafted the most beautiful, heart-breaking, original and poignant way to portray emotional abuse, love in all its forms and how we learn to let go. The story is narrated by a ghost, Lisa, who is trapped on Platform Seven of Peterborough train station, where her life ended. The story starts with a man who commits suicide by jumping in front of a freight train in spite of Lisa recognising what is about to happen and trying to stop him. She cannot leave the station but by following various people, listening in and analysing her thought processes she is eventually able to move beyond the confines of the station and in doing so we learn a lot more about Lisa when she was alive and the events that led to her death. The prose is poetic, the pace slow, but in being so tension is created and the beauty in love, emotional pain and death laid bare. The book makes for an excellent read because you become so invested in the characters' lives that you are desperate to know how things have ended up where they are, and how some situations might be resolved. The reader will also end up desperate for justice on Lisa's behalf. Dr Matthew Goodison or 'Matty,' Lisa's boyfriend, is a complex character who will make you angry, upset and ultimately baying for his blood. Whilst the book is able to 'entertain' us as we follow the quest for truth and justice, it is mostly a novel that makes you think about some very serious issues; abusive relationships, sexual abuse, suicide, being a refugee, happiness, freedom and society's response (or lack thereof) to the needs of vulnerable people. There is Dalmar a Somalian refugee, who was an engineer in his own country but now works on the railway and lives in the poorest part of town, Andrew and his sister who have suffered unspeakably as children but need to find their own way of saying goodbye to the past, and then there is Lisa's best friend, her parents and the neighbour who lives in the downstairs flat. Each one of these people has experienced traumatic events in their lives but what they all share is the ability to find ways to carry on living again, even though their lives are very different from 'before.' And by doing this, people who are dead but were loved can carry on living. I am not the same person I was when I started reading this book. That is how powerful this novel is. It spoke to me on so many different levels and made me question my own beliefs and more generally how society is caught up in consumerism and the pursuit of perpetual happiness, which is of course a ludicrous goal because it just doesn't exist. Dalmar cannot forgive himself for one act upon fleeing his country and therefore cannot allow himself to get close to another human being, young PC Lockhart is questioning whether he has really done enough and if not, is he actually cut out for a career with the British Transport Police. He understands the pain of loving another from afar, and the novel asks us to explore what true love is, making the distinction between love and possession. This book made me weep, for the damage we cause one another, for the decisions we make and the torment we can go through. There is tragedy but there is also redemption. And as Lisa's ghostly wanderings help her to recover her memory of when she was alive, the truths are revealed in all their painful finality. Instead of the book being depressing though it is not, we rejoice in the fact that at long last Lisa can finally say goodbye and be free to choose where to spend the rest of her days. I found it very hard to let this book go when I finished reading. If I could award this book 10 stars I would! For me an absolute MUST read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ian Brydon

    What a marvellous novel. In the interests of reviewer’s integrity, before I go any further I feel I should declare a slight interest: I knew Louise Doughty at Leeds University: now frighteningly close to forty years ago we were both in the same intake into the English Department, and also lived in the same hall of residence. However, I am pretty confident that while that slight connection may have prompted me to buy the book as soon as possible after its publication, it hasn't impacted at all up What a marvellous novel. In the interests of reviewer’s integrity, before I go any further I feel I should declare a slight interest: I knew Louise Doughty at Leeds University: now frighteningly close to forty years ago we were both in the same intake into the English Department, and also lived in the same hall of residence. However, I am pretty confident that while that slight connection may have prompted me to buy the book as soon as possible after its publication, it hasn't impacted at all upon my judgement of the book. The story is narrated by Lisa Evans, and opens with her watching an alarming scenario unfolding on in the early hours of a cold November morning on Platform Seven of Peterborough Railway Station. A man has made his way on to the platform and Lisa suddenly realises that he is planning to throw himself in front of the morning’s first freight train. Appalled at this prospect, Lisa is powerless to intervene. It is only when she stands in front of the man, but he runs straight through her, totally unimpeded, that we realise that Lisa is a ghost. We gradually learn that she had died in the station some eighteen months previously, although the details are not known, and her spirit is now stuck within the precincts of the station. Lisa starts to remember different aspects of her life, which she gradually relays to the reader. We also see her encounter a young man, whom she initially christens Caleb, who piques her interest, and she starts to speculate on what his story might be. As her interest in this young man grows, she discovers that she can now leave the station, and she is able to follow him home and start to learn more about his domestic circumstances. We also start to learn more about Lisa. She had been a teacher at a local school, and had met Matty, a doctor, when she had visited the A&E department of the town’s hospital after slipping on wet leaves in the street. The two clicked immediately and fell into a close relationship. However, as Lisa’s memories of that time start to percolate through to her, we start to see a darker side to the relationship. As with her previous novel, [Apple Tree Yard], this was beautifully written and immaculately plotted - quite definitely one of the finest novels I have read this year. Well done Louise!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    In Platform Seven, Louise Doughty continues to showcase her versatility as a writer (her two previous novels, Apple Tree Yard and Black Water, were both very different and very good) by framing a familiar psychological thriller narrative with something more unsettling. Since her death, Lisa Evans has been confined to the boundaries of Peterborough Railway Station, unable to do anything but observe its staff and commuters and occasionally encounter others of her kind - from the man who killed him In Platform Seven, Louise Doughty continues to showcase her versatility as a writer (her two previous novels, Apple Tree Yard and Black Water, were both very different and very good) by framing a familiar psychological thriller narrative with something more unsettling. Since her death, Lisa Evans has been confined to the boundaries of Peterborough Railway Station, unable to do anything but observe its staff and commuters and occasionally encounter others of her kind - from the man who killed himself on Platform Seven to the 'malign presence' that inhabits the multi-storey car park across the road. At first, Lisa cannot remember what happened to her, but gradually it all starts coming back... This could have felt like an awkward sandwich of ghost story and thriller, but Doughty pulls it off by making the whole text feel a little haunted; even when Lisa is alive, her absence seizures detach her from her body and give her a certain distance on her own life. She also uses Lisa's omniscient narration to portray normal lives interlinked in a way that is reminiscent of Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, and has the same uplifting quality. Doughty writes in her acknowledgments that she'd like to thank the station staff 'despite their understandable bafflement that anyone should want to write a novel set on Peterborough Railway Station.' However, her choice of setting is wise; the banality of Peterborough works well with her exploration of ordinary kindness and ordinary estrangement in a way that a more evocative setting would not have done. The middle section of this novel, which is undoubtedly the most gripping but also the least original, is lifted above a typical thriller by the quality of Doughty's writing and the way in which she explores the deeper context of Lisa's life and death. Platform Seven is a wonderful literary thriller, and the only reason I haven't given it a higher rating was because of the ending, which I felt spelt out the 'message' of the book too clearly; Doughty had already effectively conveyed everything she needed to say in the previous chapters. Nevertheless, I'd recommend this to both old fans and new. I received a free proof copy of this novel from the publisher for review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Megan Jones

    Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge Platform Seven at 4am: Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he's alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge. Two deaths on Platform Seven. Two fatalities in eighteen months - surely they're connected? No one is more desperate to understand what connects them than Lisa Evans herself. After all, she was the first of the two to die. So this is a very up and down book for me, there were parts I hated and parts I loved. Starting at the beginning, what a difficult start it was. I was so not interested in what was going on, the plot was slow and the characters felt unconnected to me and I really could have given up. Then, Doughty enters the second part and what a change! Suddenly the book was intense, thrilling and electrifying to read, such a pleasant change and I only wish Doughty had kept this up as it was not too long before we were heading back to the parts I despised. I cannot really be specific as to what the plot line was that ruined it for me as it will spoil the book for you, however in my opinion it was one hundred percent not necessary and its inclusion brought nothing extra to the read. If this whole plot thread went I think the book would only be improved. The sections of the book that I loved were those told from Lisa's perspective as we learn her backstory and what causes her to die at Platform Seven. These sections made for very difficult reading, Doughty tackles a hard-hitting subject and it made for uncomfortable but intense reading. I was on the edge of my seat as we follow Lisa's life and watch it slowly go wrong. Lisa herself is a great character to follow, I eventually felt connected to her and once I did I was rooting for her. 'Platform Seven' is not quite a thriller but is more than just fiction. Stick with it, you might find the beginning insufferable but it gets so much better and I adored the slick, powerful, intense read that this turned out to be. The subjects are serious and the delivery exceptional.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Louisa Jones

    An enjoyable, moving read. It's an interesting premise done without mawkishness that communicates the main character's own intelligent and practical nature. In this considered and realistic account of abuse and it's consequences there is maybe a reflection that the wider conversation around abuse is finally maturing. Love comes in many forms, as does its opposite. I'll be doing this as a bookclub read when it comes out in paperback eventually, it should provide the basis for a fascina An enjoyable, moving read. It's an interesting premise done without mawkishness that communicates the main character's own intelligent and practical nature. In this considered and realistic account of abuse and it's consequences there is maybe a reflection that the wider conversation around abuse is finally maturing. Love comes in many forms, as does its opposite. I'll be doing this as a bookclub read when it comes out in paperback eventually, it should provide the basis for a fascinating discussion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Bowes

    This book started slowly for me but I am glad I stuck with it to the end. Lisa's story slowly unfurls in a beautifully written, descriptive flow. The slow start gathers pace and takes you on a journey which is difficult at times with an inevitable ending that still manages to surprise. A difficult subject but one I urge you to read

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Deacon

    This is a wonderful book. Sad, emotional, powerful, dark and covering disturbing but familiar themes, I did wish for a different ending but it was perhaps the best one it could be!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen Whittard

    A really well written mystery book. With a real difference this book is really good and I really enjoyed it. Because it was so different from all the other books out there.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    A literally and figuratively haunting book. Well written and left a few tears...needed heavy editing in the middle of the book as the relationship development was predictable and a bit tedious in its unfolding. But the concept it was wrapped in made up for it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A beautiful, sad book. Not what I was expecting but a pleasure to read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Josary

    I read this book quite quickly which is always a sign that it’s a good one and I enjoyed it a lot. When an author explains and describes something your imagination takes over picturing the area they are describing but with this book I didn’t need to as I know this city very well and I could follow the the very accurate paths that Lisa takes around the area. This turned out to be a different (wonderful) reading experience for me. Very much recommend this book. Waitrose next to the station is a re I read this book quite quickly which is always a sign that it’s a good one and I enjoyed it a lot. When an author explains and describes something your imagination takes over picturing the area they are describing but with this book I didn’t need to as I know this city very well and I could follow the the very accurate paths that Lisa takes around the area. This turned out to be a different (wonderful) reading experience for me. Very much recommend this book. Waitrose next to the station is a regular shop for me but I will now have to keep looking over my shoulder.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kiera O'Brien

    This is not a bad book but the marketing, the cover and even the title are so incredibly psychological thriller-y, and not only is this book very much not a psychological thriller, I think readers' expectations of a fast-moving plot and sharp twists are going to affect their enjoyment of what is actually a very nuanced and moving portrayal of an abusive relationship. For me, the opening chapters dragged, and it wasn't until Lisa's flashback started that I really got into Platform Seven. Matty's gaslig This is not a bad book but the marketing, the cover and even the title are so incredibly psychological thriller-y, and not only is this book very much not a psychological thriller, I think readers' expectations of a fast-moving plot and sharp twists are going to affect their enjoyment of what is actually a very nuanced and moving portrayal of an abusive relationship. For me, the opening chapters dragged, and it wasn't until Lisa's flashback started that I really got into Platform Seven. Matty's gaslighting was written very well, and if I hadn't just finished Jenny Downham's indescribably brilliant Furious Thing, which deals with the same subject, I'd be giving that section alone five stars. It absolutely flew by, and despite being set over several months and depicting insidious behaviour, actually felt a lot tighter than the rest of the book. However, outside the flashback, there was way too much focus on minor details, like all the different types of rice Lisa despairs of in the supermarket, and all the backstories of the periphery characters that we just didn't need. The ending seemed to drag on forever, with every single tiny loose end tied up. Were the security guard or the man who bought a ukulele without his wife knowing really worth all those pages? Perhaps if it had been billed as a slice-of-life (/death) character study I'd be more forgiving.

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