Snow and works on the Northern line make for difficult conditions and life is most definitely difficult for Sybil. Sybil is a woman scorned and we all know about women scorned! Her boyfriend Simon has recently left her for another woman and not just any other woman. Sybil has known Helen since she was one of her lecturers at university and it’s fair to say, they didn’t get on well there either, with Helen almost ruining Sybil’s chances of a good degree pass. Sybil is less than happy when Helen becomes one of the Trustees at the Prehistoric Studies Institute where she works. So losing Simon to Helen seems like the ultimate betrayal.
It took me a while to warm to Sybil I must admit. Although clearly she was going to be hurt by this break-up she just seemed to become obsessed with Helen and all the perceived wrongs she has done. At times she got into quite awkward situations that almost made me squirm to read them. She seemed to have very few social skills. However, as the story went on, I could see that she was hurting, a bit broken by the end of her relationship and just not really sure how to cope. There was also something else going on which was a real surprise and a clever touch by the author. It’s not the kind of book I expected to take a very unpredictable turn but there you go. I must say that I thought that Sybil’s revenge was very clever and again not what I expected. I do hope what she did served its purpose – something we are left to decide for ourselves.
One thing I rather liked about the book was the poetry and haiku scattered throughout, stemming from Sybil’s participation in a poetry class. While Sybil thought she wasn’t very good at poetry, I thought they were actually quite perceptive and revealing. The kindness of strangers is apparent at times with support for Sybil coming from people you might not expect. She is an interesting character who definitely has her flaws but is someone who grew on me as she navigated the difficulties in her life. The Snow and The Works on the Northern Line is a gentle, well written novel.
The exciting news is that you can listen to an abridged version of this book on Radio 4 where it is being serialised from today. You’ll find it after the 12 o’clock news at lunchtime and also in the old Book at Bedtime slot at 10.45pm. Here’s the link to the programme page: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000r360/episodes/guide
My thanks to Ceris at Sandstone Press for sending me an early copy of this book and for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour. The Snow and The Works on the Northern Line will be published on Thursday 14th January in paperback, ebook and audiobook formats. You may just find some early copies are available. Please support a bookshop when buying your copy if you can. Or you will find buying options for various retailers on the Sandstone website here: The Snow and The Works on the Northern Line
From the back of the book
Hidden within the confines of the Royal Institute of Prehistorical Studies, Sybil is happy enough with her work – and her love life. Then to her dismay, her old adversary, assertive and glamorous Helen Hansen, is appointed Head of Trustees. To add insult, Helen promptly seduces Sybil’s boyfriend. Betrayed and broken-hearted, Sybil becomes obsessed with exposing Helen as a fraud, no matter the cost.
About the author
Ruth Thomas is the author of three short story collections and two novels, as well as many short stories which have been anthologised and broadcast on the BBC. The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line is her third novel. Her writing has won and been shortlisted for various prizes, including the John Llewellyn Rhys Award, the Saltire First Book Award and the VS Pritchett Prize, and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She lives in Edinburgh and is currently an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund.