This is a review of the 2010 book One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner. The book had been on my 'to read' shelf for ages but it never got picked, until I read lots of positive reviews on here which made me want to read it.
A bit about
The book begins as a story of commuting, from Brighton to London and the usual behaviour of the people on the trains. Glimpses in to their personal life but mainly anonymity and retreat into books, magazines and music. An event on the train forces people to interact and work together to try and save a man's life and three women are thrown together which forms a lasting bond.
Only a week in time is covered during the book although there are a few flash backs to fill in the gaps as well. You feel like you have lived that week with them by the end of the book as it is covered in such detail even using clock times as chapter headings.
The book mainly works between Karen, Anna and Lou with a few other fringe characters thrown in for content. The three women are essentially different but find things in common with each other. They all have their own crisis going on and are able to support each other in different ways.
I really felt frustrated with how much I had to pick up and put down this book, mainly my fault for reading it late at night and falling asleep before I was ready. Ideally I would have liked to read it in one sitting and the words were really nicely spread on the pages so you could tear through it but my life got in the way. I genuinely felt that this was a life affirming novel. It makes you really appreciate what you have and insists you live for the day as you don't know what tomorrow brings. I think it also made you take stock of the things in life that make you unhappy and encourages you to question this and make changes, take action. For a book to do this is quite a big thing.
I can happily recommend this book although it is upsetting places and teaches us that life is fragile. Work is a necessary evil that keeps the cogs turning but it's up to us what we make of it and the time in between shifts. I think this book would suit either men or women as a good read and I will be passing my copy on to my husband to see if it gives him a reality check too!
I had seen this book around for a while. It occasionally popped up in my "Amazon recommends" list or I'd spot it on the shelf in Tesco. I have to admit I was drawn to read the blurb one day in Tesco purely by the front cover. Which is a strange thing to say seeing as the cover is simply some stacked tea cups out in the rain. After reading the blurb on the back of the book I decided it would be something I would like to read, but considering how big my 'to read' pile of books is I couldn't really justify buying it.
Clearly though I was supposed to read this book because a few weeks ago it popped up in the Kindle deal of the day. With a price tag of 99p I decided I could justify buying it to myself after all. Besides - My virtual 'book pile' can get larger without my other half stating I'm taking over the house!
=== Plot ===
One moment one morning - 7.58 on a Monday morning to be precise - a man (Simon) has a fatal heart attack on the busy commuter train from Brighton to London. This is the moment that changes at least three of the passengers lives forever. Karen (Simon's wife) is on the train with him up to London. Lou, a complete stranger, is sat in the same carriage when Simon has his heart attack. Anna is sat several carriages down the train.
The lives of these three women intertwine. Anna is actually Karen's best friend. They happened to be on the same train that morning but didn't realise it at the time. Anna is on her way to work in the city - when the train is pulled up she jumps in a taxi to take her the rest of the way. She ends up sharing this taxi with Lou who is also on her way to work that morning.
The majority of the book that follows takes place from that moment that morning over the next week. In that time we really get to know the characters of the book (partially helped by flashbacks every so often).
=== Characters ===
As it becomes clear to each of the women what has actually happened that morning they each really begin to develop their perspectives on life. As their lives intertwine further we learn a lot more about each of them.
We meet Lou first, a character a really felt as though I 'knew'. Throughout the book we really get to see Lou develop and see her coming to terms with certain aspects of her life and family.
Karen is a lovely character who you can't help but feel like you want to give her a hug. Rayner develops Karen's character really well, and I felt like she was a really believable character. We get to see Karen's grief, and see how she deals with trying to make her two young children understand what has happened to their daddy. Some of these paragraphs in the book almost had me in tears.
We then get to know Anna. As the story develops further we get to know a lot more about her. Anna doesn't simply have the 'devoted best friend' role in this book. She is believable as her own person with her own issues as well as being a good friend.
I felt as though each of these three central characters was developed really well, and I found it relatively easy to identify with all of them. Each of the three women were 'real' in the sense they each had their own lives, their own problems. I did like that all three were developed this way - I felt this gave something extra to the book as a whole. It definitely gave the book some depth, and a sense of reality. Each of the characters was from their own walk of life, had their own secrets, their own history. Just as we all do in reality.
=== Price and Availability ===
This book is available in many different stores - I imagine all bookstores would stock it, I have certainly seen it in Tesco (I think it may even be in the 2 for £7 offer at the moment), and of course there is always Amazon.
Currently on Amazon the paperback version is £4.79, and the Kindle version is £4.55. As mentioned I got my Kindle copy for 99p when this book came on the Kindle deal of the day. The full RRP of the paperback version is £7.99 which is pretty standard for a paperback.
I would recommend reading this book. I did enjoy reading it. It's an emotional story, but told really well, and with a sense of realism.
One moment - 7.58am to be precise on one Monday morning on the 7.44 train from Brighton to London; that is when life changes completely for the four main characters of this book. Really there are only three people who this novel is all about, as Simon, the fourth character, is dead by the end of the third page, at 7.58 on the train from a heart attack at only age 51. However, he remains central to the story line as Karen, Anna and Lou deal with the aftermath of his death.
One moment, One Morning should by rights be a sad, depressing book. It's about the sudden death of a loved one. It's about alcohol abuse and it's about homelessness, hiding one's true identity from family and most especially grief. However, I actually found it an uplifting read. It is riveting and a book that I really didn't want to put down. I think this is partly because it is so realistic and true to life.
Everything is totally believable and dealt with in a sensitive manner and as well as exploring a number of situations that are extremely difficult for the three ladies , Sarah Rayner also manages to convey such passion, compassion and empathy between her characters. Karen, Anna and Lou were all real people to me as I was reading and although there aren't descriptions of their physical appearance, I had very definite images in my mind that I created from the impressions that I gained of their personalities and interests. The setting was also very easy for me to visualise as the various parts of Brighton and Hove where the girls live is well described.
Lou is the first of the girls to be introduced to the reader. She is on the train commuting to her job as a counsellor in a school for children who have been excluded. She is a people watcher and as she hides behind her IPOD she is observing the other passengers in her carriage, including the couple across the aisle. The woman is quite a bit younger than the man and he is stroking her hand, until that is he is suddenly sick and then crashes forward in his seat. As Lou realises what is happening she leaps to her feet and summons help to find the guard. As the drama unfolds and Simon's body is removed by the emergency services Lou carries on her journey to work by taxi.
Anna has also been on the train in another carriage and is also travelling to work; she's late for a meeting so rushes to catch a taxi which she shares with Lou - hence the start of a new friendship as they share their common experience.
Lastly there is Karen. She's the woman whose hand was being stroked by Simon at that fateful moment in time. She's his wife and mother of their two children. They have a good marriage and are on their way to the solicitors to sign contracts for their new house. Karen is a giver, a caring and generous person who is always thinking about the well being of others. In her ultimate time of need she calls her best friend Anna from the hospital to tell her of her husband's fate. This might seem a bit corny that they are on the same train without knowing it, but I guess there are so many commuters form Brighton to London that it could well happen and it didn't feel wrong in the book. In fact the only thing that did feel wrong was that Karen and Simon's children call Anna 'Godmother Anna' all the time - now that did seem strange and I've never heard of anyone using that term to someone's face - what is wrong with Auntie Anna?
The relationship between these women builds beautifully throughout the book. As Anna does all that she can to support Karen, she decides to introduce Lou firstly because of her background as a counsellor, but also so that she can help Karen gain some perspective of what happened on the train and hopefully stop blaming herself for his death. As we learn more about the girls we realsise that it is not jsut Karen who needs support. Lou is struggling with 'coming out' and sharing her real sexual preferences and Anna's partner is making her life very traumatic and stressful. Over the course of the week from Simon's death to his funeral the girls become involved in each others traumas and life changing events to such an extent that you are left feeling that the lives of all three will be intertwined for a long time to come. I really believe that being so intricately involved in such a horrific event can create lifelong ties over a very short space of time and I genuinely believed in the communications that arose between them as they sought to deal with the cruelty that life has throw at them. It is this that makes this such a homely, cosy and inspiring read and masks the underlying sadness.
The structure of the book also contributes to its readability. The main chapter headings are the days of the week starting with Monday and ending the following Sunday, with a short ending section moving the reader on six months ahead to provide a satisfactory conclusion and tying up some loose ends that I would have otherwise been left wondering about. Within each chapter there are sub sections headed up by time and again further sub sections devoted to each of the girls, so that we can see what they are each doing at any one moment. There is therefore a constant swapping between different parts of the story line which helps it to move on at a fast pace and I was never even remotely bored. I also never lost the plot or became confused as I moved between the different characters. It is very easy to find a convenient place to stop - if you can bear to that is - and that's always a bonus to me to be able to stop at a marked end of section and pick up afresh next time.
Most of the time the book is written in the third person and is descriptive of what the girls are doing or thinking, but there is some dialogue too. Generally it is based in this one week in time, but occasionally it does flash back in time such as when Karen is in the supermarket buying supplies to cater for the funeral she thinks back to last weeks shop and the things that she was buying for Simon to eat or use, or as the food is laid out in her home ready for the funeral she is thinking of the last big catering event they held; Simon's 50th birthday party the year before. These glimpses into the past increase the poignancy of the story and help to become more intimate with the girls.
Sarah Rayner lives in Brighton and this is her third novel. I've not read any of her other novels so can't compare this one to them but I will be looking out for other work by her in the future without doubt. I can thoroughly recommend this book. I think that it probably has a wide range of people that it would appeal too, but if you like a book that is fast paced and delves deeply into the personalities of characters then I'm sure that you will love this book.
Price £5,20 paperback and £4.94 Kindle from Amazon
It's not often that my wife and I read the same type of book. I usually go for thrillers, she's a definite chick lit reader. Occasionally though, she'll suggest a book she's read that I should give a go, and this is the latest one.
I've never heard of Sarah Rayner, so I'm not sure if this is her first book or if she has a plethora of them. Either way, the easy and natural style of writing kicks off straight away as she tells the story of a few weeks in three people's lives where one tragic event on a train one morning changes their outlook on life forever. When Karen's husband Simon has a fatal heart attack on board the morning train, it's like someone has sucked the life out of her too. Her best friend Anna is also on the train, which is halted permanently following the event. She takes a taxi to finish the route, unaware of the tragedy as she was on a separate carriage. Sharing her taxi is Lou, who happened to be sitting with Karen and Simon, and it is this unlikely triangle of women who come together throughout the course of the book.
What Rayner does very well is to bring out the emotions of the character as she develops them and the people around them. Karen's pain is powerfully displayed, extensive tangents of thought constantly coming round to Simon, the memories and the inability to deal with such an unexpected event. This is matched by Anna's need to help her friend while at the same time trying to deal with her unreliable boyfriend who seems to be good for nothing other than taking advantage and becoming obnoxious when drunk.
These two are more intricately linked in the book, already established as best friends, and if there was any element which was a bit tenuous, it was Lou's character, how she is only linked to the story by thi9s one event and her passages seem rather distant to those of the other two. Rayner uses plenty of social areas within her plot, and Lou is a social worker, dealing with all kinds of events and emotions from those she comes into contact with. I thought Rayner did a good job of providing a middle ground perspective on most things, but the one thing that she nailed was the way she just makes you find something of yourself throughout the book.
I found myself comparing our lives to those in the book, so clear and believable are the situations we come across. It made me laugh, made me sad, nearly made me cry, and made it hard to put the book down. The passages with Lou were harder to maintain focus throughout, and I have to say the relevance still escapes me somewhat, but the way the book was written was so well done and flowed excellently. It deals with the emotions and little things that come with such a tragedy, the sort of things you just wouldn't expect until they happen, and it works very well, making you thankful for what you do have and appreciating every moment you have with whoever you have them with.
The biggest thing is how you take this. I would certainly urge everyone to read it - adults only - as most people will be able to find themselves somewhere in there. This is the winner - the sense of realism. It makes it all the better to read and although it's hard to say it's enjoyable because of the subject matter, I'm certainly glad to have picked it up and read it. Well worth a read.
I had seen this book in Waterstones a few times over the last year or so and I thought it looked interesting, especially as one of the reviews on the back says "a great, quirky thriller with a heart for fans of Kate Atkinson". Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors so I took that as a real recommendation. I ended up buying this when I saw it at a book fair I often go to.
First of all, I definitely would not call this a thriller as such, and I think that description in the review is a bit misleading. However it definitely does have a heart and it kept my attention in the way that a thriller does, making me want to read just one more chapter before I put it down. I read the last 200 pages in one go in the middle of the night because I was getting so engrossed in it.
The main storyline can be explained quite simply. A man, Simon, dies suddenly on a train while commuting to work, leaving his wife, Karen, and their two children. Their friend, Anna, is also on the train and meets another passenger, Lou, who witnessed Simon's death. We follow these characters' lives in the week after Simon's death. Anna and Lou also have issues of their own which they try to deal with.
The book is very sensitively written. Karen's grief and loss is described so believably and a lot of it is heart breaking to read, such as the difficulties with explaining to the two children, aged five and three what has happened to their dad. There are some flashbacks through Karen's memories to times with Simon and we get a good idea of what he was like when he was alive. I cried a few times during this book.
Karen's best friend Anna is a genuinely likeable character who is also portrayed in a very human and real way. Karen relies on her and she always wants to be there for her friend, doing everything she can to help, but at the same time she is not as strong as she appears to be and she is struggling with her own relationship and is not really being supported herself. This is a reason why she ends up getting closer with Lou. Through Anna's relationship the issue of alcoholism and possible domestic violence is tackled, so this side story is not light relief either.
Lou is slightly outside the main story, as she is not closely connected to Karen and just happened to be on the train, seeing Simon's death and meeting Anna. She does provide support to them both and slowly ends up becoming friends with both of them, but throughout most of the book her sections are focussed more on issues such as her difficult relationship with her mother, who does not know she is gay, and she feels uncomfortable that she is not completely being open about who she is.
The importance of friendship is a clear theme of One Moment, One Morning and as the three main characters' become closer in the aftermath of Simon's death we see how their lives develop and start to see some glimmers of hope for the future for Karen, as she starts to carry on with her life without Simon.
I felt that the book was very well written, with a lot of likeable characters and it really drew me in, making me feel involved in these lives. Due to the subject matter it is not a light read, but it is a page turner which is easy to read in a couple of days. I would recommend it.
It was just another day on the 7.44 from Brighton to London, when suddenly a man is taken ill and dies. One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner is a novel about how one moment is all it takes to change lives.
Karen loses her husband, Simon. Anna, her best friend, loses a valued friend and must support Karen. Lou was sitting near Simon and meets Anna when they share a taxi from the train, before Anna knows who has passed away. All three women's lives are changed by this tragedy.
One Moment, One Morning is a very down to earth novel. The characters deal with real life around the tragedy they are coming to terms with, and on the whole they have believable lives. Although it happen's at the start of the novel, Simon's death is truly upsetting as we see its effects through the eyes of those who loved him.
I found One Moment, One Morning a very moving novel, and the main reason for this was that it made me think. It made me consider how I would cope with a loss like this; I found myself thinking of loved ones who have passed away, and it brought home to me that life can be changed in an instant. We should enjoy and treasure the time we have with those we love.
The different characters in One Moment, One Morning added variety to the story, and gave it a breadth it wouldn't have if they were all from the same walk of life. Karen is a highly organized mum, Anna is a glamorous writer in a far from perfect relationship, and Lou is slightly more unconventional. These different lives complement each other and mean that in addition to main story of the grief over Simon's death, the smaller side stories are all quite different.
Rayner's writing is perhaps not something you could describe as special, but it is effective. She writes well, and tends to stick to the everyday subjects rather than drifting off into passages on the unfairness of life. Karen's breakdown moments come over the difficulty of helping her children to understand their daddy has gone forever, rather than have her sitting around being melancholy and pondering the meaning of life. The normality of what Karen has to deal with (and Anna and Lou to a lesser extent) is why the story is so moving; we can all identify with it, it could happen to anyone.
Another testament to the effectiveness of Rayner's writing is that since I finished the novel, I have thought of it occasionally, and I feel like the characters are real people. I wonder how Karen is coping now, and I have to remind myself that she is a character in a novel.
One Moment. One Morning is a truly wonderful read. A simple story, told very effectively, and one which will stay with you and make you think. It is not Sarah Rayner's first novel, but it seems to have been her most successful so far. She has another novel out in March 2012, The Two Week Wait, which looks like it may also feature the character Lou.
I picked this book up a while back now but, only recently managed to get around to reading it. The blurb on the back of the book really had me captured as it wasn't your usual chick lit with the same old story of boy meets girl and they fall in love type plot so I was keen to give it a go. I have read one other book by this author and I must have enjoyed it as I kept the book and it has been sat on my shelf in the 'read' section for quite some time but, it was so long ago I cannot actually remember how much I enjoyed it and didn't even realise I had actually read one of her other books until I spotted the name of the author was the same!
Sarah Rayner is an English author who has written three books with a fourth in the pipeline. She has written short stories for Women's Own magazine and she is also an artist.
A normal commute to work, on the 07.44 from Brighton. Three passengers who lives are about to change forever when a man collapses and the train I stopped. Lou who watching the scene before her unfold who doesn't realise she may come to be involved with man family. Karen, who is the wife of the man whose world collapses along with her husband and Anna, best friend of Karen who, starts to realise what perspective on life really is.
It is hard for me to give much more to the plot as pretty much this is what the blurb on the back tells us but, there is so much more depth to it. However for me to go into more detail, would ruin the rest of the story.
All three women are central people in the story. We meet Lou first who is watching the people on the train on her commute and taking in the different people around her. I found I quite liked Lou as a character as she is generally a good person who wants to care and look after others. At the same time, her story involved her coming to terms with who she is and letting her family know who she is.
Karen is the wife of the man who collapses and she is a lovely person who you really feel for and you see how she struggles to understand what has happened and how she blames herself. Also she is trying her hardest to help her children understand what has happened whilst at the same time trying to comfort them. I liked how real Karen seemed as she was written in to act how you would expect her to be and it was refreshing rather than her just being an unrealistic character.
Anna is our last main character and again she was a very real person in the sense that she had her own problems do deal with as well as helping her friend. I liked that she had more depth than just being the friend as it gave the book an interesting edge and overall she seemed such a nice person it was hard not to like her. In fact, it was hard not to like all three of the main characters and I really enjoyed reading about them and their lives as a whole.
This book was bought as part of the on-going multi buy offer in Tesco. Priced at £4.49 on its own it is reasonable for a new book but, when buying two books and then only costing £4 makes the book very good value indeed. Of course you can pick this up in many various other shops or online sites however if not on offer or as part of an offer expect to pay the full RRP of £7.99. When you think I got two books for the same price as this one retails at on its own, then it is definitely good value.
I started reading this and at first I couldn't get into it because of never having time to read much in one go. However after I got past the first few chapters it really engaged me and before long I couldn't wait for any opportunity to pick it up and find out what was going on. In particular I liked that it wasn't the same old run of the mill love story or anything like that and although the basis of the book should have been quiet dismal, it was still a really enjoyable book. I liked that although there was one set event that joined all three characters together, they each had their own story to tell and these all complemented each other really well.
Another thing I really liked about the book was that the story was set only over a very short period of time. It follows the three women over the course of the week from when they are all on the train from Brighton and I liked that we could get a really good perspective on the events following the week rather than it being dragged out over a longer period of time.
Overall, this was a book that I had been keen to read and after finishing it I think it is definitely different to most but, in a good way and I would highly recommend it to everyone to give it a go.
Unlike the other reviewer, I absolutely loved this book! It isn't a thriller though, so for anyone looking for that, best search elsewhere. Instead, it explores how the sudden death of one man on a train impacts on his wife, Karen, their family friend Anna and a stranger, Lou, and at times it is very touching indeed. It's a long time since I cried when reading a novel, and it seems from reviews on Amazon, I am not alone in being moved to tears.
So, centred around the lives of these three extremely different women and their consequent self-evaluations over the course of one week, One Moment, One Morning focuses on issues that touch almost all of us at some point - love, loss, grief, healing, sexuality, addiction and friendship. Yet it's a far from depressing or 'difficult' read - it's fast-paced and even made me laugh in places, and the final chapter offers the reader a glimmer of hope as to how such an awful event can also prove life affirming and strengthening.
Maybe it's because I'm a mum, but I found the mother/child relationships particularly beautifully and realistically portrayed, as are the small children themselves, and overall I found Rayner strikes a perfect balance, combining compassion and empathy whilst cleverly avoiding mawkish sentimentality.
Whereas some authors leave the reader feeling patronised and manipulated, Rayner delivered an excellent, thought-provoking and engrossing read for a thinking person.
I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
Whilst browsing the Amazon Vine newsletter I came across this book, and to be honest it's not the type of book I usually go for. Anything which mentions 'a story of women and friendship..' sends me to sleep, I'm much more for apocalyptic tales or serial killers on the rampage in Edinburgh, or a good historical fiction read. There was something about this book though, that grabbed me just from the blurb.
"The Brighton to London line.
The 07:44 train.
Carriages packed with commuters.
A woman applies her make-up. Another occupies her time observing the people around her. A husband and wife share an affectionate gesture. Further along, a woman flicks through a glossy magazine.
Then, abruptly, everything changes: a man has a heart attack, and can't be resuscitated; the train is stopped, an ambulance called.
For at least three passengers on the 07:44 on that particular morning, life will never be the same again."
If I'm completely honest the rest of the book doesn't grip me in the way the blurb did, and I suppose it was set out that way on purpose. This isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book; it was just not full of suspense as it makes out.
So what lies in this book is a story of 3 women, each with their own story to tell. There's Karen, who watches her husband die in front of her on the train. Her best friend Anna who has troubles with her boyfriend, and also happens to be on the same train but on a different carriage, and so doesn't realise that the commotion on the train a few carriages down involves her best friend. Then there's Lou, the lesbian counsellor for troubled children who happens to be sitting next to Karen and her husband when the event happens.
The rest of the book constantly switches from each of the 3 characters. We follow Karen through her grieve, having to break the news to her children that their father is dead, and also arranging the funeral. Anna is a really good friend to Karen, always just a phone call away and despite her own problems at home; she is constantly putting Karen first. Lou is the rather random character in the whole story. We read about her at work, how she deals with troubled children, who constantly seem to be asking her if she's a lesbian. She also has a very old fashioned and uptight mother, who she has never told she is gay.
The book switches between events. There are often flashbacks for each character, such as Karen in happier times with her husband, Anna meeting her now alcoholic boyfriend for the first time, and Lou sitting at her father's bedside as he is terminally ill with cancer. It did give some more depth with the characters, however I never really felt as if each character was really genuine, or significantly different from each other. It sounds like they are very different people, but when reading it through you can't always tell a big change in personality with each character. I did find it hard to believe that a character like Lou could even be a counsellor for children; I just could not get away with that idea at all.
Nothing really happens with this book, yet I did keep feeling the urge to read it, almost expecting something to happen. It is however, just a story of friendship between these 3 women, spanning over just a week. Whilst the main event of Karen's husband dying is horrible, I wouldn't describe it as tear jerking in the way other reviews of this book have. In fact, this book didn't draw out any emotion from me what so ever, and after finishing the book, I couldn't really make up my mind what I thought of it. On one hand I did enjoy reading it, and I did become immersed whenever I picked it up, but it never really had me gripped.
It's a strange one with this book. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of these types of books, chick lit and women's friendship, but for people like me who prefer a good thriller, I would probably avoid, as nothing really happens after the opening event.