The Bus on Thursday

The Bus on Thursday 3

by Shirley Barrett

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 26/09/2018

3/5 Rating 3 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $24.25
That's when I literally had thoughts of becoming a nun, because I thought, Well, I'm never going to have sex again. If I become a nun, I would at least have somewhere to live.

It wasn't just the bad break-up that caused Eleanor's life to unravel. It was the cancer. And the demons that came with it.

Freshly single and thoroughly traumatised from the ordeals of breast cancer, Eleanor Mellett starts a new job as a teacher in a remote mountain hamlet. It's certainly peaceful enough, almost too peaceful. But what's become of the previous teacher, the saintly Miss Barker, who has disappeared abruptly under mysterious circumstances? And what's with all those locks on the door? And what the hell is that bus doing idling outside her house late, late at night?

Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in Twin Peaks. Darkly funny, deeply unsettling and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett's The Bus on Thursday is a strange and wild ride for all fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, David Lynch and Stephen King.
Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
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Customer Reviews

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3 / 5 (3 Ratings)
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  • The bus on Thursdays

    by on

    I couldn't believe this book . The fowl language never stopped . I kept thinking this has got to get better ...but it never did . I hate not finishing any book so I persevered . Disturbing and not all that funny .

  • The bus on Thursdays

    by on

    I couldn't believe this book . The fowl language never stopped . I kept thinking this has got to get better ...but it never did . I hate not finishing any book so I persevered . Disturbing and not all that funny .

  • An original, at times hilarious and weirdly engros

    by on

    The Bus on Thursday is the second novel by prize-winning Australian screenwriter, director and author, Shirley Barrett. It starts with a lump in her armpit, and before Eleanor Mellett knows it, she’s had a mastectomy (thank you, George Clooney look-alike), has a fake breast (without nipple, so far), is jobless, fiancé-less and living with mum. She’s on hormones for the cancer and anti-depressants (who wouldn’t be?!), and has given up the breast cancer support group as a bad joke.

    When Miss Barker, the much-loved teacher at Talbingo’s one-room school (just 11 students), goes missing, Eleanor steps into the breach. She arrives at the tiny village in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains to be greeted by tearful students and a tearful assistant: this devoted teacher has certainly left Eleanor a high standard to live up to. But is this city girl ready for it? Has she come to terms with her loss? And no mobile reception, no wi-fi, really??

    Eleanor will strike most readers as rather immature in both thought and deed: thirty-two going on sixteen for much of the story. While still in the city, she seems to be sane, if rather self-centred and entitled; when she gets to Talbingo, however, things start to get weird, and it’s difficult to say whether there’s something strange going on in the town, or whether Eleanor’s medications are causing her strange dreams/hallucinations, or a bit of both.

    This is Eleanor’s private blog, written without any intention for it to be shared: the voice, Eleanor admits, is a “horrible snarky” one, all smart-arse funny-angry, so the reader cops a good number of expletives, both in thought and word, and while it may sound natural for this character, some are likely to be offended at her frequent use of the f-bomb (although the blurb gives fair warning).

    The story is compelling, sort of like a runaway train about to wreck: you can’t look away because there’s a morbid fascination for what bizarre thing Eleanor will encounter next and, maybe more pertinently, how she will react to it. It becomes apparent, soon after Eleanor’s arrival in Talbingo that this is not going to be any sort of a girl-finds-maturity-through-trauma story. That established, the reader can submit to the blackly funny moments as they occur. Yes, the Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist with a dash of Maria Semple description is probably accurate.

    This one is very different from Barret’s debut novel, Rush Oh! which is also set in a real town (how do the residents of Talbingo feel about the way they are portrayed?), and the rather abrupt ending may not please all readers, but those who have embraced the tenor of the tale will see it as very fitting. Barrett manages to include demons, dandelion leaves and decoupage, weird theories on cancer, a severed hand, and a teacher who shared more than cupcakes with her students. An original, at times hilarious and weirdly engrossing read.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen&Unwin.