The 10.35 train is making its way from Manchester to London Euston, each passenger heading to the capital for a different reason. Jeff, a young unemployed man, dreams of a successful job interview while Holly, the woman next to him, already has the job of her dreams. Rhona, on her way to work with two fellow employees, is desperate to be back at home with her unwell child and Naz, a rail employee, has aspirations beyond collecting rubbish. Meg and her partner are off on a walking holiday while Nick and his young family are on their way to a wedding. Caroline is looking forward to some respite from home where she has to deal with problem children and a mother with dementia. Then there is Saheel, a student, who has a backpack he won’t let out of his sight…
Often, when a book contains so many characters, it is extremely easy to become confused but, thankfully, this is not the case in The Silence Between Breaths. Initially, we are introduced to each character separately and their back story and reason for them being on the train is slowly revealed. As we become more accustomed to each person, the characters start to interact with each other and it is then that the setting of the story really comes alive.
From quite early on, it is apparent that the journey is going to be a traumatic one and, after becoming quite attached to some of the characters, the anticipation is, at times, unbearable. Cath Staincliffe does an excellent job in building up the tension so that when one of the characters realises what is going to happen, you begin to fear for the safety of all those on the train. When the inevitable happens, thanks to the author’s description, it is easy to visualise the utter destruction and sense the panic felt by those who have unwittingly become involved in a major incident. These scenes are not for the faint-hearted but are vital to show the carnage caused and the repercussions for everyone on the train.
One of the biggest strengths of this book is that we also get to meet the family of Saheel and how this event affected their lives. Saheel’s sister was probably my favourite character – a young lady with a very wise head on her shoulders. As this story is one of a very sensitive nature, it was good to get the point of view of different sections of society.
In the present climate, it is probably the wrong choice of words to say that I enjoyed this book, but I feel that Cath Staincliffe has succeeded in creating a gripping, emotion-filled story that is extremely relevant today. This is, by far, the best book I have read so far this year.
The Silence Between Breaths is available to purchase now.
With thanks to Net Galley and Little Brown Book Group UK (Constable) for the copy.
Take a look at some of the other great blogs that have contributed to this blog tour: