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I first read one of Martina Cole's books a few years ago, I read another couple and although each one was good, after 2 or 3 I found them all to be too similar and felt like I had read it all before. I think this is all down to personal opinion though, as my boyfriend has read many of her books and doesn't seem to get sick of them.
The Runaway was a book I bought for him a while back and decided to read myself, hoping that as it's quite a while since I read one of her books it wouldn't seem as "samey" as others.
The book starts in London in 1960 with children Cathy (7) and Eamonn (10) being brought up in a house full of problems. Eamonn's dad, Eamonn senior is dating Cathy's prostitute mother Madge and the two moved in with Cathy and Madge. Both Eamonn senior and Madge drink too much and there is a lot of domestic violence. Life isn't going to be easy for the two children.
When Cathy is 13, Eamonn senior finds a new girlfriend and moves out, taking his son Eamonn with him. Madge has plenty of male friends around who keep sneaking into Cathy's bedroom trying to take advantage of the young girl, but despite her small size, Cathy is no pushover. She shouts and asks her mother to get the men out of the house but she is ignored most of the time.
It seems her mother plans for Cathy to go down the same route she did herself, and is now getting old enough to use her body to make money,
Eamonn isn't having a much better time, living with his dad and new step mother, who has made it clear to him that she doesn't like him and will only be pleasant for his dads sake.
Eamonn and Cathy meet regularly and seek comfort in one another which soon develops into a romantic relationship.
Soon a sequence of events in each of their lives means these two teenagers are going to have to grow up, and fast.
Eamonn doesn't want to end up a drunken dock worker like his dad, and decides the only way to gain respect is to earn it within London's gangland. Cathy doesn't agree at all with some of Eamonn's actions, but when she finds herself getting into trouble with one of her mothers clients it's as if she feels she can't really express her disappointment in Eamonn's lifestyle when she has done something wrong herself.
At times it seems the two are drifting apart, but they feel they are the only ones who understand each other and have a bond which can't be broken. No matter what the other does, they will always have a love for one another. As the pair grow into adults, they have new lives, friendships, families and relationships away from each other, but throughout the book you always wonder if they will be reunited again.
The book contains a lot of violence and sexual references so would not be suitable for younger readers. It has a bit of everything in it and is enjoyable. One negative was that I found it slightly too long. I think this is due to the fact that it is following the two main characters from childhood so a lot happens over the years. I do think some parts dragged a little, it included lots of characters, some of them adding nothing at all to the storyline except a few more pages we could do without.
Overall I really liked this book, I felt like I really knew a few of the main characters and was left wanting more when I had finished the book.
A book which is full of prostitutes, drugs, sex and gang violence is not one I would not the kind of book I would be drawn to so I was quite surprised that I enjoyed Martina Cole books so if it's not "your kind of thing" it might still be worth trying to borrow one, you might surprise yourself and enjoy it too.
A drama based on this book was on tv a couple of years back, and although it was good, had nothing on the book.
This book follows the story of cathy and eammon, from when they were kids to adults and how thier life changes so much over that time but they still end up linked together. Cathy and Eammon were always there for each other as kids and young teenagers, however when eammons dad has enough of cathys mum who is a prosititute ( or dock dolly, usually sleeping with foreign sailors and robbing thier money). He packs up and moves with his new woman. Eammons dad seems to genuinely care for cathy. However after eamonn snr leaves, cathys mum brings home random men every night, and one tries to attack cathy which ends with him being killed, following this incident, cathys mum ends up locked up and cathy ends up been thrown into an horrendous care home where many of the girls are usually abused. Cathy and a girl she has made friends with manage to escape and Cathy finds herself in soho where she is taken in by the kind desrae who is a transexual man. Eamonn gets involved with a ganstas daughther and ends up killing her so eamonn has to flee, eamonn senior manages to get them on a boat to new york. Over time as thier lives evolve, thier paths cross many times however although they have strong feelings for each other, the relationship between them feels as though its doomed. I couldnt put the book down however the book changes scenes each chapter between what is happening in cathys life in london, to eamonns life in new york and i did feel that eamonns life in new york did feature alot of stories just to fill the pages. Yet I did read the book within a week and a half so it must have been good.
Since seeing the television adaption of Martina Cole's The Runaway, I have seen a few other tv adaptions of her films, and have now read a couple of her books . Whilst she is definitely a talented writer up there with the great British female crime writers, the woman has a mind like a sour. This book, in particular, specialises in IRA warfare, incest, rape, child molestation and drug abuse, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Cathy and Eamonn are thrown together early in life when her kerb crawling mother and his drunk abusive father set up home together. Through years of turmoil and chaos, the two huddle together to protect each other from the emotional abuse that their parents inflict on them. Things take a turn for the worse though when Eamonn Senior ups and leaves, only for young Eamonn to be thrown out with him. From there on in, Cathy has to endure her mother bringing her work back to the house. One night, a fateful encounter with one of her mother's customers changes everything for Cathy. Finding herself thrown into care, she realises that things could have been a lot worse for her at home. Determined not to suffer at the hands of an abusive senior at the home, Cathy makes her way to Soho where she encounters all manner of beings that she could never have dreamed off. Taken under the wing of kind hearted drag queen Des'rae, Cathy discovers that you don't have to be a conventional unit to be a family. However, as Eamonn Jnr delves into the world of terrorism, murder and drug smuggling, he threatens Cathy's happiness and a life that she has dreamed of for over 20 years.
The Runaway is a relentless read that takes us through four decades in the life of two young people who think they are destined to be together. However, destiny always has other idea's as the two are thrown though the gauntlet of life in the East End of London. Cathy's ordeals are believably written, although you could never imagine somebody as innocent as her having to endure so much. It leaves pause for thought. Martina Cole is expert in her accounts of sexual exploitation and the world of gangster's back in a time where even thief's appeared to have honour. Where she leaves things a little dry though is in the continuity. Whilst she fits a lot in to these two lives, there are moments where the details seem too thin. A subplot about the IRA and their attempts to hit London are often scraped over, and merely feel like surplus meat on an already stacked bone.
There is also a moment where a cliffhanger is presented to us where Cathy is being watched by a shadow on the street. It is never revealed who that person is, or what their purpose was. We are left to surmise that it could have been any of the number of people who meddle in this girl's life as she allows herself to be manipulated by a man she adores. The book is also presented in various acts, the middle one shifting focus to New York. It is here that the story sags as Cathy is taken out of the equation for too long a time. Boredom sets in as we await her next encounter, and it was almost tempting just to skim forward and give Eamonn's New York antics a miss. However, that risked missing some detail that might have been required later on in the book. I persevered, but it was at this point that the book lost a little of the flare that Cole has for writing authentic organic thrillers.
I have to say my main complaint with this rather good read is that some of the sexual content is a little graphic and feels, at times, as if there to fill the pages. If it isn't plot to move the tale forward, it doesn't really have to be there. I'm not prudish and wouldn't have minded if it felt required, but a lot of the time it didn't. Having picked up a couple of her other books since, I noted that those books also had more sexual exploitation than necessary. She seems to imagine that life in the East End of London means women (and sometimes boys) are seen as fodder for brutal men who think demeaning the weaker sex is a way to control. Putting those qualms to one side though, Cole's The Runaway is still a belter of a read that translated into an excellent and somewhat faithful tv series recently. I have to say, though, if Cole had written her book as tautly and deftly as the script writers wrote the tv version, it would have been a good sight more flawless than it ended up.
I was quite interested to read this book as it covers the part of London I grew up in. Has Martina ever been to Custom House and was Cathy's mum an Olympic runner. One minute she's near the docks and the next shes in Stepney and she ran home seven miles. It would take the average person a good few hours to walk it. She got stabbed by a punter and went to the London hospital, Martina obviously didn't know about the Seamans Hospital that was in Custom House right near the docks. Chinese sailors used to wear dark blue suits like Chairman Mao, not little white ones.
It's a shame Martina didn't get a lot of her facts right. One being that a lot of women with families in the area were moonlighting and were on the game. I'll think that one over. She portrays the East End as if she knows it well but it is obvious to a real Eastender that she is just a creep who has sat in a pub ear wigging and picked up a bit of the lingo.
Review of 'the Runaway' by Martina Cole
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel, ISBN number 0747255393, 663 pages, Published by Headline Books. Cover price £7.99. Genre-Crime > Fiction.
Available from www.amazon.co.uk for £5.49 new or from 0.01p used.
Cathy Connor and Eamonn Docherty are friends, they thrown together as children in the East End when Cathy's prostitute mother moves Eamonn's father into the family home. When the couple split up, the two youngsters find that their fate is sealed. Eamonn and his father look out for Cathy and Eamonn is very protective of her.
Cathy's life as a prostitute's child is miserable, however it changes forever when she's forced into care. The ordeal that follows when a self obsessed social worker places her in a violent girl's home, run by a predatory man, leaves her with no choice but to run away. Battered and world weary, Cathy ends up in Soho, where she learns to survive in the violent heart of London's underworld.
Meanwhile, Eamonn, who fled to New York, has gained a reputation as a ruthless villain. The pair have kept in touch and when their paths cross again, a physical relationship develops. As time moves on and Eamonn becomes involved in more serious and deadly criminal activities, he finds that Cathy is a more than equal match for him. Eamonn's criminal activities exacerbate to a chilling climax.
I won't reveal more of the plot other than this basic outline, for fear of spoiling the story for future readers.
Martina Cole born in 1958, was brought up in Essex. Her first novel, DANGEROUS LADY, was an instant best-seller and became a highly successful TV drama series. Since then Martina Cole has written fourteen more best selling novels set in the criminal underworld of London. Ms Cole is no stranger to hardship and has taken many knocks in life herself. Her parents both died when she was young and by 18 years of age she was living alone in a Tilbury council flat with her baby son. She began writing as a way of escaping her own problems. She has in her own words 'always been a grafter' and has built a comfortable life on the strength of her books. She has been married and divorced twice and has a son, a daughter and a grandchild. Martina Cole teaches creative writing to inmates at Wandsworth and Belmarsh prisons and a patron of Chelmsford Women's Aid, which she says is her way of putting something back into society.
I have noticed that Martina Cole invariably dedicates her novels to family members and friends from her past, a very human touch in my opinion.
For further information about the author and her books, visit Headline and Martina's own website
**Thoughts and Conclusion**
Another gripping crime thriller from Martina Cole. The storyline is enhanced by the remarkable characters drawn by Ms Cole and her talent for descriptive writing. The plot is complicated and gruesome in places, the language is ripe and not for the feint hearted. The element of child abuse in children's homes of the past is a well documented one and Ms Cole tackles the subject with all the earthiness regular readers of her work will recognise.
The Runaway is a good read and not to be missed if you enjoy Martina Cole's work.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 August 2009
I have read a few Martina Cole books now and so far this has to be my favourite book of hers so far.
I could not put this book down one i started reading it, the characters are very well thought out and the descriptions are fantastic. I felt every emotion reading this book. Martina Cole was definitely at her best when writing this book.
This is a story about a young girl (Cathy) and a young boy (Eamonn) who are thrown together as children as Cathys mother is a prostitute and Eamonns father is a drunk, who all live under the same roof.. Cathy is eventually taken into care and gets treated very badly so escapes. She is wondering around the streets of London when a transvestite takes pity on her and takes her in. Eamonn has fled to America and has made a big name for himself. But as time passes their paths cross again..
After reading this book i could not wait to go and purchase another of Martina Cole's books. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes this type of book. It is a book that you could read more than once and it would still be as good as the first time you read it.
I love reviewing books even though I never seem to get the synopsis right for every reader. This Christmas I received plenty of books from my family who know by now that I read most genres. My younger sister bought me a "Crime Classics" selection which contained this book by Martina Cole. I had heard of her, but can't remember reading any of her books so I looked on this one as a new author to me. This particular book was originally published in 1997, and since Cole has written eleven best-sellers I am guessing this one might be an early one.
The real story starts in London in the 1960's with the main characters of the book, Cathy Conner and Eamonn Docherty thrown together by the relationship between their respective parents, Madge Conner a typical brass ( prostitute), and Eamonn senior, a drunken Irish layabout. Caught between their constantly rowing parents the youngsters form a bond that is to last throughout the years even when they are apart.
Young Cathy is eventually taken into care and in typical fashion becomes a victim of the (then), corrupt system, eventually running away to the streets of Soho. There she is rescued by a transsexual, the well-portrayed character called Desrae.
Eamonn's life is not going well either. After the split-up between his father and Madge, he becomes moody, resentful and violent. Such a character cannot be tamed. But Eamonn is handsome and irresistible to many women, a lethal combination that ends in murder, forcing him to go to America assisted by his father.
The story follows the life of Cathy in London where she learns how to look after herself and still retain her dignity while moving through the seedy underworld of the swinging sixties, the era of the Kray twins, the warring factions who try to rule the street trade of Soho.
In New York Eamonn makes a name for himself in the equally unwholesome underworld of the gangs that run the city. There his violence is honed as a sword to smite the villains who won't toe the line. From his virtual adoption into the Irish American Mafia, he becomes a name to be reckoned with, his personality subsumed by always being one step ahead of the game.
Back in London Cathy is protected by the transsexuals whom she comes to class as her family. There she marries and has one beloved daughter, Kitty, her life revolving around her daughter and her "Auntie Desrae". She's also protected by Richard Gates, a copper who moves between the underworlds with impunity. But times are changing and the old gangs have to give way to the new. A breed with no honour, who indulge in every dirty trade imaginable. It's then that Cathy is brutally attacked and left for dead, while Eamonn finds out the consequences of putting his love of money and violence before the only woman who ever really cared for him.
The ending is totally unpredictable, so I don't think I'm giving away too much.
The characters in this book are extraordinary. That's if you never lived through those times. I was roughly the same age as the fictional Cathy and although I never lived anywhere near London or the villains of those times, still it was almost impossible not to know from the papers what was going on in criminal circles. Those were the days of the Great Train Robbery, the Kray brothers, Christine Keeler with her "private parties".
Martina Cole draws on the rich tapestry of the 1960's to the 1990's to bring life to her characters. Cathy is a typical heroine, though sometimes I thought her a bit too good to be true. Gates, the bent copper is also a bit typecast, though Desrae and his glorious "women" are so typical of those times. The villains are nasty, extremely nasty, sometimes stomach-churning in their violence. It's the violence that I found hard to read about, even though I do like horror stories. I guess its because I know that Cole is drawing from real life.
I enjoyed the book to a certain extent. It's not something I would recommend to anyone with a weak stomach, especially since I suspect that much of the sex, violence and corruption of minors really did take place at that time. The story is just a tiny bit predictable at times, though I don't think it would matter to Cole's fans.
For me it was just a bit too gory and the language is appalling. Certain scenarios echoed events of the times and I think that's what put me off a little. Think of Myra Hindley and you'll know what I mean. Critics say that Cole "tells it as it is", without pulling punches or glossing over unsavoury details. Yes, life was, and still is, quite nauseating at times. We tend to glamorise certain individuals, but let's not forget that a crook is not a hero, even if he gets away with daring robberies. That leads to guns and knives, an all too familiar part of life and death. I think I prefer slightly more story and less gory. I expect that many Cole fans would disagree with me though, so I'll finish by saying that the book is gripping even at 665 pages.
Prices vary for this book with Amazon charging £5.99 new and Ebay offering a few used books in their auctions. Mine came as part of a set, so expect more crime reviews in the future.
Thanks for reading.
Going into a book store a couple of week ago, I was drawn towards the Martina Cole section, although I was convinced that I had read every one of her books. I then spotted The Runaway, reading the synopsis I knew that I hadn't read this one. I almost ran to the checkout, I couldn't believe my luck. How I had overlooked this one beats me.
Martina Cole was born in 1958 in Essex. To date I believe she has written 14 novels. Basically they are all crime thrillers, usually based around London's crime underworld. They generally have a female protagonist character and involve the Irish community in London.
Her books are violent, graffic, and contain a lot of bad language. It goes without saying they are sometimes quite shocking. But this is all necessary for the way that she writes.
The story starts in 1995. In a London hospital a woman is ICU, her name is Cathy, she is suffering from horrific injuries, she has been beaten so badly she is almost unregonisable.
With her is a policeman, Richard, he has known Cathy for many years, Richard is head of the vice squad in London.
New york. A man called Eamonn, is desperate to contact Cathy, but can only get her answerphone. From his lush office in New York, he is helpless, but knows she is in terrible trouble.
The book then goes back to 1960. We then get to know Cathy and Eamonn as children. They live together in the same flat. Cathy's mother Madge is a Prostitute, and a low class one at that. She has no morals and hasn't a maternal bone in her body. She lives with Eamonns father who is a violent drunk.
Cathy cooks, cleans and generally takes care of her mother and the home.
Cathy and Eamonn survive the poverty and violence, which at times is incredibly cruel. During this time in their lives they form an incredible and unbreakable bond.
Without giving too much of story away, when Cathy and Eamonn are teenagers, the two families seperate. Life becomes even more terrible for the young girl. Her mother Madge starts bringing men home, and is drinking more and more. This leads to a horrific chain of events, this puts Cathy in even more danger. This is the point when she meets Richard Gates, the head of the vice squad.
It then becomes a story of survival against the odds.
Eamonn, has to leave England and is helped to America. I won't spoil it and tell you how or why. But at this point you start to understand what a dangerous individual he is. He believes that Cathy is safe. Cathy is in desperate trouble that no-one is aware of.
Eamonn is blissfully unaware of the terrible situation that Cathy in. He gradually builds a life in America, getting deeper into New Yorks criminal underworld.
Cathy is surviving despite the fact she believes that she will one day be reunited with her only love in life Eamonn.
This story is a real page turner, The relationship between Cathy and Eamonn is so powerful and yet so self destructive. Its is passionate and heartbreaking. Cathy grows into a beautiful, successful business woman, with the help of a transvestite and his lover. She makes many powerful and wonderful friends in the sex industry. She has high morals and scrupals, but will it be enough in her fight against the powerful IRA, the Mafia in New York. Many of whom she isn't even aware of her connection with.
I really couldn't read this book fast enough. From the first chapters
I wanted to know how this woman ended up cut to ribbons in a hospital bed. What a journey it was. The suspense was there until the very last chapter. From the 1960's right up to 1995 it had me reading every spare second. It made me laugh in places with the great sense of humour surrounding the transvestites. Its also made me cry at some of the tragic things that happened to this poor little girl born and not wanted by Dock Dolly. Why would a senior policeman for the vice squad care about this women so much.
The best 656 pages I've read since the last Martina Cole book.
For more info. www.martinacole.co.uk
Thanks for reading.
Martina Cole The Runaway
A bloody good read! Im not going to write a long review laying out the whole plot of the book that would spoil the story.
The Runaway follows the lives of the two main characters Cathy and Eamonn starting in 1960 when both were young and living in a violent household, the book follows their lives through the next thirty odd years. Set in the East End to begin with then later Soho and New York, the characters develop and grow as we follow them through their lives. As with all of Coles books theres a lot of violence and swearing, and in this novel a fair bit of sex. A highlight of this book is the strength of the support characters sometimes lacking with other authors, Cole has developed maybe half a dozen very good characters to go with the main two, the transvestite Desrae and the bent copper Gates are excellent. Unlike the previous books of hers Ive read this novel branches out away from the East End with Eamonn moving to New York. This I feel allows a stronger storyline too develop and also sets it slightly apart from some of her other books.
A criticism of this author often is that the stories and characters are too similar; this one breaks the mould involving the New York gangs and the IRA while keeping her strong writing style. Watch out for some graphic beatings and serious violence, but you expect that with Martina Cole books.
The Runaway is a very good read that I highly recommend whether you are a Cole fan or a new reader of this author.
While I loved the first Martina Cole book I read (Goodnight Lady), I was slightly wary about reading a second. I had heard people say her books were very similar to one another, featuring the same kind of characters, settings and themes. It must be hard for an author to get the balance right. As with a singer, you want a voice that is recognisable, but you don't want to regurgitate the same thing time after time, so it becomes boring. I approached The Runaway with a mixture of excitement and a feeling of facing the inevitable. I didn’t want her to disappoint or to be too predictable. It is wonderful to discover a new author and have her entire collection of novels to read for the first time, knowing she still produces new ones regularly. When I started reading, it was obvious the magic was still there. I was hooked within a few pages and once again, I was faced with the problems I had while reading Goodnight Lady – how could I read as much of the book as possible, while still finding time for the house, my family, time on the computer and the right amount of sleep? After all, 663 pages is a weighty tome, not a couple of hours’ read. The characters drew me in almost immediately. The novel starts and finishes in 1995, with our first introduction to the story being the description of a woman called Cathy - badly beaten and fighting for survival in a London hospital. Then we meet Eamonn Docherty, who is in New York when he receives a phonecall telling him Cathy is dying. I wanted to read on and find out more straight away. Who was Cathy and how did she come to be in this state? What happened to her and will she survive? Who is Eamonn? What was his story and how is he connected to the mysterious Cathy? Over the next few hundred pages, all is revealed. The novel takes us from 1960 through the three and half decades until we are back at the prologue – and then continues the story to its natural concl
usion. We are transported between London and New York, following Cathy and Eamonn’s lives and all those they encounter during it. It is hard to give you an idea of the plot, without spoiling it, as there are twists, turns and surprises that regularly pop up and it would be a shame to let the potential reader in on any of these beforehand. But here’s a brief summary to give you an idea as to whether it’s the kind of book you would like to read. In 1960 London, Cathy and Eamonn live together with their parents. Cathy’s mother, Madge Connor, is a prostitute and not a high class one either. She is lazy and leaves all the housework to her seven-year-old daughter. Eamonn’s father, Eamonn Senior, is an alcoholic with a temper, who regularly beats Madge. It’s as much a part of their relationship as their noisy sex sessions – both of which ten year old Eamonn Junior tries to ignore and shut out. Life is not easy for the two children, but they have each other. As the years go by, Cathy and Eamonn are forced apart, then thrown together. They marry other people, but still appear to be drawn to one another. Cathy finds herself in Soho where she begins her life there as a runaway without friends to help her. Eamonn takes his criminal acts too far several times, his acts of brutality and ruthlessness making him both respected and despised simultaneously. He has to leave London with his father and ends up living the high life in New York. The characters are brilliantly described, so that even those who make brief appearances have a background and are easy to picture. This is especially effective when something nasty happens to them! It is much easier to accept violence when you have no idea about the victim. Once you know something about them – maybe how young they are or how many children they have – it is harder to become detached. Cathy and Eamonn are our heroine and hero, but are
in no way perfect. They make mistakes, they follow the wrong path, they make bad decisions. But they are still admired and loved by the readers, even if we are sometimes repulsed by their actions. The reader’s empathy is gained and retained by Martina Cole’s wonderful descriptive writing which draws us into the heads of her characters, where we can at least understand why they did something, even if we do not agree with their actions. Other characters stand out in the novel, including Desrae and Richard Gates, who were two of my favourites. Desrae is beautiful, wears glamorous clothes and perfect make up – but between the legs is all male. Richard Gates is a corrupt policeman, who is not unused to resorting to violence himself, if the situation requires it. Again, we see all facets of their personalities though, which endears them to us. A common thread between Martina Cole’s novels is that they are definitely for an adult readership. Expect a harsh view of life – prostitution, drugs, extreme swearing, child abuse and violence that will turn your stomach. Again, this is written in a very clever way, so you are revolted, but swayed to condone some of it and even admire acts of brutality in a strange way. You will certainly understand people’s motivations, as you get to follow the events and see how their minds work. If you are at all interested in gangland violence or the crime networks of major capital cities, this will fascinate you. But Martina Cole’s are so much more than just a crime novel or a thriller. Add these genres to a family saga type book and you’re getting closer. Imagine finding out the whole of a person’s history from childhood through adulthood, then you read about them being viciously attacked. It has an impact. You care. You ‘know’ them. It is a very clever device and works perfectly. I cannot recommend Martina Cole enough, but she may not be you
r cup of tea – or, more aptly, your double vodka with cocaine chaser. But if you like the sound of her, do try at least one of her novels. I am so pleased I did. Now I just need to persuade myself to stop reading her temporarily, so I can get this huge pile of library books reduced! Not to mention catch up on some sleep… NB: Thanks to all those on the opinion sites who recommended Martina Cole and thanks to Mizzame for lending me the book.