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Review of 'Midnight' a novel by Josephine Cox.
I am reviewing the hardback version of this book, published by Harper Collins in 2011, ISBN 9780007301461, 358 pages, cover price £18.99.
Set in Bedfordshire and Lancashire, 'Midnight' follows the story of car salesman, Jack Redmond. Jack is a thirty-something man who has been living in the South of England for some years, having left his home town of Blackburn as a 16 year old. Jack's widowed mother had met a new man and moved to America leaving Jack to fend for himself. The young man chose to move to a new area and begin again.
Jack's life is on the whole, very good. He is successful in his job, owns a nice home and has a live in girl-friend, Molly. One thing spoils Jack's happiness, his night terrors. When Jack sleeps, he finds himself transported to a place where it is always midnight, a place full of horrible watching eyes, deep and dark secrets which he cannot unravel. He screams out loud in his sleep, disturbing Molly who often struggles to waken her boyfriend. When he does finally wake, Jack always feels terrified and disorientated. He can recall his dream as it is always the same but he cannot shed any light on who it is watching him and for what purpose.
Jack's nightmares begin to affect his relationship with Molly and he finally agrees to seek psychiatric help for the problem. Under guidance from the psychiatrist he is referred to, Jack begins to question whether the dreams are more than just dreams. He is sceptical, but wonders if they could be flashbacks to a traumatic incident in his past. Jack has no relatives whom he could ask; his father is dead and he has not heard from his mother since he was 16 years old. He had not kept in touch with anyone from Blackburn when he moved away, so other than what he can recall for himself, he is pretty much in the dark as to his past.
An offer of promotion at work leads Jack to return to Lancashire, his company opens a new state of the art car showrooms in Lytham which Jack is to run as area manager. His new life starts with a catalogue of disasters when Molly refuses to accompany Jack and she shows her true colours by giving him an ultimatum, his job or her. Jack comes to the conclusion that his girl-friend is only out for herself and does not really care for him.
Having chosen the job over Molly, he moves North, where a chance meeting leads him to rekindle a friendship with Libby, an old neighbour and school friend. Libby's mother, Eileen, used to babysit Jack as a child, he wonders if she can shed any light on his early years, but sadly although she is only in her late 50's, Eileen is suffering from a form of senile dementia.
Nevertheless, as circumstances unfold, Jack heads towards the discovery of the truth behind his early years and the deep seated problems that have followed him into adulthood.
**Availability and Price**
My copy was purchased at a local charity book sale for £1, it carries the jacket price of £18.99. The novel can be found in High Street booksellers at varying prices, or online at www.amazon.co.uk.
Currently Amazon are offering the hardback book for £7.90, the paperback for £2.90 and a Kindle version for 99p.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I am familiar with Josephine Cox's books and have enjoyed many of her novels. Usually I would describe them as fairly light reading with a romantic, homely feel. 'Midnight' is quite different, it is a love story of sorts, yet has a very deep undercurrent running through the whole plot. The tension runs high as the plot unfolds and the sometimes dark vagaries of human nature are explored as Jack's story is told. I consider the author has surpassed herself with this novel, whilst I feel it is very different from her other books, I am very impressed with this alternative writing style.
The plot is fast paced and the reader is kept in suspense from start to finish. The main characters are very well rounded, believable and realistic. I particularly enjoyed the way the author has blended in the sub plot of Libby and her mother. The issues surrounding dementia are handled sensitively, but with the odd touch of wry humour. Poor Libby is frustrated by her mother's habit of 'escaping' at night as the lady goes off in search of her husband, a man who has not been seen for close on 30 years. It reminded me of my late grandmother's antics when she was suffering from this cruel illness, I won't go into details here as it is irrelevant to the review, but suffice to say, my grandmother too would go 'walkabout' seeking friends and relatives from the past.
This is a romantic novel but with a distinctly dark thriller vein running through it. I would recommend this novel to others, I found it an absorbing and interesting read.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 January 2012.
N.B. My review may be found on other sites under the same user name.