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A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better

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Morley’s Elmet was a surprise Booker nomination last year, and hopefully this might make next Tuesday’s longlist. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice.

There is a short passage, two thirds of the way through Benjamin Wood’s elegant and disturbing novel, in which Fran Hardesty, a man described as being perennially of “two weathers”, finally becomes his true self. His mother prepares him for disappointment, telling him that “ your father does whatever suits him…. When we meet Fran it is 1995 and he has come to fetch his son, Daniel, for a planned excursion to the television studio near Leeds where the boy’s favourite sci-fi series is filmed. His first novel The Bellwether Revivals was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and won one of France's foremost literary awards, Le Prix du Roman Fnac.We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. Dan listens to the cassette, read by Maxine, as they travel north towards the TV studio, where Dan’s been promised a look around the set and the chance to meet the stars.

What Sophocles actually says is: “When a god drives a man, and deceives him, he will decide that what is bad is good and live only a brief while outside disaster. Whilst I appreciate that the story doesn’t end at the key event, but explores the aftermath and effect on our narrator’s life, the tone changed, morphing into a more prosaic and factual recount of many years. This is a story charged with unpleasant energy, and I’m not sure you could get a trigger warning big enough to cover everything that happens in A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (a horribly ironic title, especially once you know in what context that phrase is used). The beginning of “A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better”, by Benjamin Wood, starts with dire foreshadowing and then whams you with a punch that absolutely requires that you keep reading this gripping psychological suspense novel.This book had a gripping first half; the build up to the major incident was packed with suspense and tight writing, and although slow moving, this rammed up the intensity and urged me to read on. Having achieved this transmogrification, Fran is now utterly free – and, to the reader’s horror, his emergence, like that of a fully formed butterfly from its chrysalis, does seem to be a kind of achievement, the fulfilment of some dark potential that has been building for decades.

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