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Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it. One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. T Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it. One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters. Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.


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Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it. One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. T Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it. One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters. Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.

30 review for The Bus on Thursday

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    If you are looking for a crazy and bonkers read, this piece of weird fiction by Aussie Shirley Barrett might just be for you. There are elements of romance and comic humour, infused with a large dollop of horror, think Bridget Jones crossed with The Shining. Eleanor Mellet has broken up with Josh, her long term boyfriend because he didn't want children, when she discovers she has an aggressive form of breast cancer that throws her life off the rails. Eleanor is snarky, sweary and surly, as her c If you are looking for a crazy and bonkers read, this piece of weird fiction by Aussie Shirley Barrett might just be for you. There are elements of romance and comic humour, infused with a large dollop of horror, think Bridget Jones crossed with The Shining. Eleanor Mellet has broken up with Josh, her long term boyfriend because he didn't want children, when she discovers she has an aggressive form of breast cancer that throws her life off the rails. Eleanor is snarky, sweary and surly, as her cancer causes her to lose her teaching position. She is beyond upset when she has to undergo a masectomy that plays havoc with her sense of identity. Her friends are proving to be of little comfort, costing her money as she plays the role of bridesmaid to best friend, Sally, and her self esteem takes a battering when a date with Harry, the hairlip, turns into a disaster. In a narrative consisting of blogs, we follow Eleanor as she takes up a life saver of a working role, teaching in the remote town of Talbingo, population 241, in the foothills of the beautiful Snowy Mountains. Talbingo seems the perfect spot to recover from cancer, albeit the locals are more than a little offbeat. The priest, Friar Eugene Hernandez, 'the Praying Mantis' seems a trifle insane when he blames Eleanor for her cancer, convinced that her cancer is caused by demons she has inadvertently let into her life. Eleanor is in charge of 11 students of varying ages, replacing their previous teacher, Miss Barker, who is beloved by all in the community. She was a caring, conscientious, sharing and nurturing, the perfect teacher, everything in fact, that Eleanor is not. Miss Barker disappeared one night, leaving Talbingo bewildered and the children feeling unsettled wondering what happened to her. As Eleanor tries discreetly to imbibe her bottles of wine, events take a surreal and hallucinatory turn when it is unclear whether Eleanor is several sandwiches short of a picnic or if Talbingo is just a magnet for horror. This was certainly a funny, strange, dark and odd read, perfect if you are looking for something different to read. It has a memorable central character in Eleanor, who may or may not be experiencing mental health issues after being afflicted with breast cancer. She may well be the teacher from hell in comparison to the previous incumbent, but in spite of this, Eleanor seems to be following the well trodden and dangerous path of her predecessor, the esteemed Miss Barker. Shirley Barrett has written a wildly entertaining novel that I must admit to thoroughly enjoying, although perhaps it may not be to everyone's taste. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Not everyone will love this but I have cackled, gasped and been really moved by this disturbing yet poignant horror with heart. So different from her debut but just as bloody good.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    I have never read a humor-horror novel that has entertained me as much as The Bus on Thursday ! Eleanor Mellett lives near Sydney, Australia and is an elementary school teacher. Three months after her break up from her long-term boyfriend, Josh, Eleanor finds a lump by her armpit. After Eleanor gets the bump checked out, she is told that she has breast cancer and it must be removed. Healing from her surgery, Eleanor has found herself in a deepressed, lonely, and desperate. After she gets an imp I have never read a humor-horror novel that has entertained me as much as The Bus on Thursday ! Eleanor Mellett lives near Sydney, Australia and is an elementary school teacher. Three months after her break up from her long-term boyfriend, Josh, Eleanor finds a lump by her armpit. After Eleanor gets the bump checked out, she is told that she has breast cancer and it must be removed. Healing from her surgery, Eleanor has found herself in a deepressed, lonely, and desperate. After she gets an implant and has been "recovering", Eleanor has hiccups in the road in terms of her personal (sex) and professional life. Ready to run away from it all, Eleanor is given the opportunity to work as a primary school teacher in a remote town, outside of the city life that Eleanor has become frustrated with. Eleanor moves to small town Talbingo, and immediately is drawn the quirks and oddities of the townspeople. The small town's primary school teacher, Miss Barker, has vanished abruptly over night, and the town seems a little off their rocker. I will not go into this element of the story further, because it's better for you to find out yourself. Eleanor begins to question her presence in Talbingo after realizing that there's no WiFi, no cell service, and that there's a lot of super questionable people watching her every move. The Bus on Thursday is being called "Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist" and I can totally see why. I would have said "Bridget Jones meets The Shining", but you catch my drift. Eleanor is witty, sarcastic, and thoroughly entertaining. In fact, Eleanor is probably one of my most loved protagonists I've ever read about. She's flawed, but owns her mistakes; she's careless, but also doesn't care what people think about her; and she's honest with who she is as a person, while also defensive over her honor when called out by others. This narrator is unreliable, but not dishonest. There's no secret plot loopholes thrown in as a twist or any dramatic turn of events for a quick shock. Eleanor is someone who I would love to be friends with, if she were real. While the story wasn't necessarily scary, there were some creepy elements to keep the story engaging. I would say that The Bus on Thursday is more comedic than scary, but overall a great tale. Readers will be divided on what takes place on the ending, so if you pick this up—LET'S TALK! Thank you Astoria Bookshop and MCD/Farrar Straus and Giroux for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Bus on Thursday will be released on September 18, 2018.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    I found it really difficult to get into this book. I did not find it humorous and the bad language put me off. I found the main character unlikeable. I would like to thank NetGalley and Little Brown Book UK for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Bus on Thursday is the second novel by prize-winning Australian screenwriter, director and author, Shirley Barrett. It starts with a lump in her armpit, and before Eleanor Mellett knows it, she’s had a mastectomy (thank you, George Clooney look-alike), has a fake breast (without nipple, so far), is jobless, fiancé-less and living with mum. She’s on hormones for the cancer and anti-depressants (who wouldn’t be?!), and has given up the breast cancer support group as a bad joke. When Miss Barke The Bus on Thursday is the second novel by prize-winning Australian screenwriter, director and author, Shirley Barrett. It starts with a lump in her armpit, and before Eleanor Mellett knows it, she’s had a mastectomy (thank you, George Clooney look-alike), has a fake breast (without nipple, so far), is jobless, fiancé-less and living with mum. She’s on hormones for the cancer and anti-depressants (who wouldn’t be?!), and has given up the breast cancer support group as a bad joke. When Miss Barker, the much-loved teacher at Talbingo’s one-room school (just 11 students), goes missing, Eleanor steps into the breach. She arrives at the tiny village in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains to be greeted by tearful students and a tearful assistant: this devoted teacher has certainly left Eleanor a high standard to live up to. But is this city girl ready for it? Has she come to terms with her loss? And no mobile reception, no wi-fi, really?? Eleanor will strike most readers as rather immature in both thought and deed: thirty-two going on sixteen for much of the story. While still in the city, she seems to be sane, if rather self-centred and entitled; when she gets to Talbingo, however, things start to get weird, and it’s difficult to say whether there’s something strange going on in the town, or whether Eleanor’s medications are causing her strange dreams/hallucinations, or a bit of both. This is Eleanor’s private blog, written without any intention for it to be shared: the voice, Eleanor admits, is a “horrible snarky” one, all smart-arse funny-angry, so the reader cops a good number of expletives, both in thought and word, and while it may sound natural for this character, some are likely to be offended at her frequent use of the f-bomb (although the blurb gives fair warning). The story is compelling, sort of like a runaway train about to wreck: you can’t look away because there’s a morbid fascination for what bizarre thing Eleanor will encounter next and, maybe more pertinently, how she will react to it. It becomes apparent, soon after Eleanor’s arrival in Talbingo that this is not going to be any sort of a girl-finds-maturity-through-trauma story. That established, the reader can submit to the blackly funny moments as they occur. Yes, the Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist with a dash of Maria Semple description is probably accurate. This one is very different from Barret’s debut novel, Rush Oh! which is also set in a real town (how do the residents of Talbingo feel about the way they are portrayed?), and the rather abrupt ending may not please all readers, but those who have embraced the tenor of the tale will see it as very fitting. Barrett manages to include demons, dandelion leaves and decoupage, weird theories on cancer, a severed hand, and a teacher who shared more than cupcakes with her students. An original, at times hilarious and weirdly engrossing read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen&Unwin.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me The Carriage held but just Ourselves - And Immortality - I enjoyed this immensely. I suppose a take on The Divine Comedy - in other words Life is a huge fuck-up, and then you die. There are also strong overtones of Shirley Jackson - and Ms Barrett like her namesake is keen to expose all those hopes, beliefs, ideas, and illusions we have about Life. Doctors, friends, lovers, family can not go with you when the bus arrives. The story of Eleano Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me The Carriage held but just Ourselves - And Immortality - I enjoyed this immensely. I suppose a take on The Divine Comedy - in other words Life is a huge fuck-up, and then you die. There are also strong overtones of Shirley Jackson - and Ms Barrett like her namesake is keen to expose all those hopes, beliefs, ideas, and illusions we have about Life. Doctors, friends, lovers, family can not go with you when the bus arrives. The story of Eleanor Mellet, diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, is an excision of the layers of meaning we all create in our lives; and strongly reminiscent, at last for me, of the works of Shirley Jackson, and Emily Dickinson. Yes, there are plenty of layers to this book - if you want to take it as an hilarious romp "Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist" - fine, no problem, but I can also see that if you or someone you care for, has experienced cancer - you will understand that a brush with death can be insanely scary.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Bus on Thursday is a book that takes the cake for the most obscure and confusing book I have read. For this reason it really did get under my skin, baffling me beyond words and thinking. I’m sure it’s strange and hypnotic effect will ensure that I won’t forget my experience of reading this unusual book in a hurry. Described in the promotional material I received with this review book from the publisher, Allen & Unwin, as ‘Bridget Jones meets The Exor *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Bus on Thursday is a book that takes the cake for the most obscure and confusing book I have read. For this reason it really did get under my skin, baffling me beyond words and thinking. I’m sure it’s strange and hypnotic effect will ensure that I won’t forget my experience of reading this unusual book in a hurry. Described in the promotional material I received with this review book from the publisher, Allen & Unwin, as ‘Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in Twin Peaks’, The Bus on Thursday is quite the genre mash-up. The Bus on Thursday introduces main cast member Eleanor Mellet. Eleanor’s life has recently been thrown into disarray. She is diagnosed with cancer, alongside suffering from the breakup of her long term relationship and her best friend has mutated into a bridezilla, from hell! Unable to nurse her sorrows with her handsome doctor or family, Eleanor retreats. She takes a teaching post in a remote mountain town, which isn’t exactly soul cleansing! I do not honestly know where to begin with my review for The Bus on Thursday, it was such a bizarre and quirky yarn. I kid you not, my head is still swirling! It is hard to categorise this novel, it is a sort coming of age story, a small town romance, a dark comedy, a mystery and a horror book – all in one package! There were times where I really enjoyed this book, especially the writing, it was original and incredibly out there! However, there were moments when I felt out of the loop and I was ultimately baffled by Eleanor and the things that happened to her. Unsettling and bewildering would be the best words to describe The Bus on Thursday. Eleanor Mellet is a colourful lead, I’m still sitting on the fence as to whether or not I liked her. I did feel sorry for her. Eleanor’s cancer diagnosis is gut wrenching and I truly felt awful for her. Barrett outlines her cancer journey well and it was almost refreshing to read this very offbeat take on Eleanor’s health. Eleanor’s life is quite the train wreck, so she made me thankful for my own relatively easy life in comparison. Eleanor’s disappointments, the way others treat her and her embarrassing bungles makes for some interesting , if albeit cringe worthy reading. Barrett’s fine character composition of Eleanor is one of the book’s highlights. The same can be said for the supporting character set, I found each to be well-rounded, adding extra input to the unfolding narrative. I don’t generally do too well with dark comedy novels, but I gave this one a chance. Sometimes I think I got the dark humour touches, other times I think I was way off the mark. There is a real mixture of humour in this book, from the downright absurd (a dead hand making its presence known) through to genuinely laugh out loud funny moments. I found these moments were mostly featured in the first half of the book. ‘I had the mammogram first. I had several mammograms because they couldn’t get to it – it was in a really awkward spot. Also apparently I wasn’t relaxed enough. My not being relaxed enough while they flattened my breast like a hamburger patty and blasted it with radiation was causing them problems.’ The second half of The Bus on Thursday is where things take a turn for the weird, wild and the wacky! The deeper Eleanor becomes involved in her new life in the mountain town of Talbingo, the more absurd things get. The mystery is heightened, and Eleanor’s state of mind falters. This is where Eleanor truly becomes an unreliable narrator and we are unsure as to whether or not we can trust her. I know as a reader of this book, it was hard to place my trust in Eleanor, but I felt I had no choice but to surrender to her ramblings, as she is the only narrator of this book. The book is structured around her blog entries, which was an effective mode of telling this story. I know I doubted Eleanor, and I actually got pretty angry with the acts she committed as a teacher (I am a teacher too), it seemed absolutely outrageous! An area where the The Bus on Thursday truly succeeds is in the atmosphere and setting. I loved the Australian mountain based locale and the small town setting of Talbingo is depicted well. Barrett allows us to fully experience the feelings that come with living and working in a community where everyone knows each other’s business, they are basically living in each other’s hip pockets. ‘Okay so I get here after this six-hour drive, and the last thirty minutes were like the opening titles in The Shining except no snow, just kangaroos and lakes and rivers and mountains and the sun getting low and flaring through the window screen -just so exhilaratingly beautiful.’ You get the picture. Beautiful and evocative descriptions of the small Australian mountain town of Talbingo, where The Bus on Thursday is set. There is omnipresence that goes with this book. It is unsettling and Barrett builds up the suspense in this area well. The symbolism of the shadowy and strange bus that the main character of Eleanor encounters really sent me off kilter. This bus has a prominent part in the final turn of the events, which had me up in arms frankly! I would love to hear what others thought of the open ending! The Bus on Thursday is a sketchy, cryptic, and offbeat tale from Shirley Barrett. I am intrigued enough by Barrett’s writing style to explore her previous work. This one is for readers with an innate sense of curiosity and a willingness to embrace the wild side of life. *** 3.5 stars *I wish to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes. The Bus on Thursday is book #12 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mindi

    This book was provided by the publisher to the Night Worms reading group in exchange for an honest review. This book! Two of the Night Worms finished it before me, and said to let them know if anyone else finished soon because they NEEDED to talk about it. So I stayed up until about midnight finishing it, and then I needed to talk about it too. So we do. Because that ending! And we finally decided we still don't really quite know what happened. This is one of the strangest books (in the best way) This book was provided by the publisher to the Night Worms reading group in exchange for an honest review. This book! Two of the Night Worms finished it before me, and said to let them know if anyone else finished soon because they NEEDED to talk about it. So I stayed up until about midnight finishing it, and then I needed to talk about it too. So we do. Because that ending! And we finally decided we still don't really quite know what happened. This is one of the strangest books (in the best way) that I've read in a long time. Eleanor Mellett is a quirky elementary school teacher who has her life turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis. After Eleanor goes through a number of surgeries and chemotherapy she's left incredibly depressed and lonely. Her boyfriend broke up with her shortly before her diagnosis, and her friends are unsupportive and caught up in their own lives. Feeling alone and desperate Eleanor jumps at the chance to teach at a very small school in the tiny rural town of Talbingo. Once Eleanor moves, things get really weird. And I'll just leave it at that. The story is told in blog entries by Eleanor that she has no intention of ever posting. The book blurb says that this story is like "Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist" but I don't entirely think that's true. It's been a long time since I read Bridget Jones's Diary, but Eleanor makes Bridget seem sensible. There are a number of paranormal and speculative aspects to this novel, but I'm not quite seeing the comparisons to The Exorcist. The Bus on Thursday is laugh-out-loud funny, disturbing, confusing, and downright weird. And I'm here for all of that. The Night Worms will probably spend quite a bit of time talking about this one. I know I'll be thinking about it for a while too.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I want to say this up front - the back of The Bus on Thursday describes this book as Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist. Just know going in that it's heavier on the Bridget Jones & lighter on The Exorcist (actually, I didn't really see much of The Exorcist at all). At first, I didn't really consider The Bus on Thursday to be a horror novel even though that's what it's being marketed as. After discussion with my review group, I noticed a few more things that I hadn't really thought about before I want to say this up front - the back of The Bus on Thursday describes this book as Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist. Just know going in that it's heavier on the Bridget Jones & lighter on The Exorcist (actually, I didn't really see much of The Exorcist at all). At first, I didn't really consider The Bus on Thursday to be a horror novel even though that's what it's being marketed as. After discussion with my review group, I noticed a few more things that I hadn't really thought about before. This book is more layered than I realized upon first read, and although we were left with questions, I've had a lot of fun talking about this book with friends. I think overall it may be a humorous speculative fiction novel, but I'm really interested to see what other people thing. I believe there's quite a bit that's open to interpretation. The Bus on Thursday is funny. The narrator gets into ridiculous situations, and handles them with a good sense of humor. It was easy to like her, and it was easy to become interested in the small town she moves to. A lot of things about her were relatable, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. This book is told in a blogging format, and it's like hearing from your friend. I liked the setup of the book, and I think that it worked really well with the story that was being told. Everything flowed, and it was easy to connect with. I think the ending may have gone over my head a bit. As I said, after discussing with friends, I feel like I understand some things, but have questions on others. The Bus on Thursday is a book that will stick with you & you may find yourself thinking over parts of the plot later on. I would definitely read more from Shirley Barrett, and I'm interested to see what else she comes up with.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marchpane

    Sharp, sardonic, black comedy with a horror kick Maybe it is because the main character’s name is Eleanor, but she reminded me a lot of Kristen Bell’s character from The Good Place – funny, rude, inappropriate, bitter – but The Bus on Thursday’s Eleanor is justified in her causticness. Her life has just been turned upside down by breast cancer. After losing her boyfriend, job, home, and a breast, to her illness, Eleanor attempts to turn things around by accepting a teaching job in a tiny scenic mo Sharp, sardonic, black comedy with a horror kick Maybe it is because the main character’s name is Eleanor, but she reminded me a lot of Kristen Bell’s character from The Good Place – funny, rude, inappropriate, bitter – but The Bus on Thursday’s Eleanor is justified in her causticness. Her life has just been turned upside down by breast cancer. After losing her boyfriend, job, home, and a breast, to her illness, Eleanor attempts to turn things around by accepting a teaching job in a tiny scenic mountain town. She’s to replace the beloved, practically-perfect local teacher who has gone missing in strange circumstances. Things only get weirder from there. Is Eleanor losing it? Is the cancer returning? Is her new boyfriend the Antichrist? The story is told in first person in the form of unpublished blog entries (so basically, a diary) written by the increasingly unreliable and unhinged Eleanor. It’s a strong, distinctive voice which some readers might find irritating, but which I loved for its mordant humour. Barrett really skewers the judgment and self-blame that comes with serious illness too, from Eleanor’s friend implying that she got cancer because she ‘just always gets wound up over things’, to a creepy priest flat-out telling her she ‘invited the demon in’ and must be exorcised, to her possible-incubus boyfriend saying ‘nothing happens to a person that they do not deserve’. The Bus on Thursday is as much about one woman’s coping mechanisms as it is about demonic goings-on in a small kooky town. It is sharp, witty, dark, a bit twisted and a lot entertaining.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

    *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett. (2018). Eleanor suffered a bad break-up just before she got cancer and the demons that came with it. Eleanor gets a new job as a teenager in a remote mountain hamlet where it all seems peaceful. But where had the previous teacher disappeared to? Why is there so many locks on the door? And why is there a random bus idling out the front late at night? This book is weird, plain and simple. I didn't mi *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett. (2018). Eleanor suffered a bad break-up just before she got cancer and the demons that came with it. Eleanor gets a new job as a teenager in a remote mountain hamlet where it all seems peaceful. But where had the previous teacher disappeared to? Why is there so many locks on the door? And why is there a random bus idling out the front late at night? This book is weird, plain and simple. I didn't mind it at all but I finished it and thought... what did I just read and what did the ending even mean....The back blurb states "Bridget Jones meets the Exorcist in Twin Peaks" and that is actually a pretty accurate summary. The narrative is in the form of a woman, Eleanor, writing unpublished blogs about her days, and it's written exactly how you can imagine she is thinking (a lot of "and I'm like" instead of 'I said'). Eleanor is quite funny at times, and other times you think she must be an absolute nutter losing the plot. Its a strange and quirky book for sure but if you want something different and unusual to read, this one may be for you!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I am going to go out and say it. I have no idea what this book is about that I just read. Is it a rom-com, a crazy country town romp, a missing teacher mystery, a women's journey through madness, over the top religious overtures, wrestling Kangaroos, or maybe something I just can't think of at the moment? This bewildering read is part comedy, part romance, with chilling moments and for some reason, despite bordering on complete farce I could not stop reading. When Eleanor's life falls apart after I am going to go out and say it. I have no idea what this book is about that I just read. Is it a rom-com, a crazy country town romp, a missing teacher mystery, a women's journey through madness, over the top religious overtures, wrestling Kangaroos, or maybe something I just can't think of at the moment? This bewildering read is part comedy, part romance, with chilling moments and for some reason, despite bordering on complete farce I could not stop reading. When Eleanor's life falls apart after being diagnosed with breast cancer and shortly after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, she decides for a total sea change taking up a teaching job in the tiny town of Talbingo, little does she know what it has in store for her? Firstly she has her work cut out for her trying to win over her students who all adored their former teacher. One of the students, fourteen-year-old Ryan, and his older brother have highly disturbing relationships with Eleanor with the older brother having sex with her then treating her like garbage. Throw in a local priest who bizarrely believes she gave him cancer and wants to exorcise her, and she inevitably hits the bottle as proceedings go from strange to totally crazy. At times downright hilarious and at other times just straight out incongruous, I can honestly say I have never read anything like this before and most likely never will again. The questions I have are plenty with is what is happening all in Eleanor's head, is her lover a murderer, is the town completely bat-shit crazy or is this just a reflection of real life that is unpredictable? Who knows but I do know one thing and that this is a story that should be read and is totally nuts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cody | codysbookshelf

    Thanks to FSG Originals for providing the Night Worms free copies of this book, in exchange for honest reviews. This is mine. The Bus on Thursday is a strange and quirky and invigorating read about a scattered young teacher recovering from breast cancer. She gets a job at a small school in the Australian mountains, and she moves to the tiny town where things are strange and darkly funny occurrences happen. I quite enjoyed this book, more than I expected to. The blog format made for quick, snappy r Thanks to FSG Originals for providing the Night Worms free copies of this book, in exchange for honest reviews. This is mine. The Bus on Thursday is a strange and quirky and invigorating read about a scattered young teacher recovering from breast cancer. She gets a job at a small school in the Australian mountains, and she moves to the tiny town where things are strange and darkly funny occurrences happen. I quite enjoyed this book, more than I expected to. The blog format made for quick, snappy reading and I dug the main character, Eleanor. She was easy to like and I wanted the best for her — isn’t that all anyone can ask for in a protagonist? I must admit I was not a fan of the ending — it was peculiar and unclear. Things don’t have to be spelled out for me, but the ending felt vague for the sake of vagueness. In fact, the light supernatural aspects of the story felt shoehorned in overall, and I could have done without them. The Bus on Thursday is out on 9/18!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    Combine a bright-and-peppy narrative voice, something like Sandra Bullock in "Miss Congeniality," with a stark horrific existential life-threatening and mysterious force, something like what Sandra Bullock experiences in "Bird Box," and there you have it. Or maybe the stark horrific existential life-threatening and mysterious force here is cancer, because, until the book becomes populated by demons about half-way through, the first scenes are all about cancer and its indignities, and the book re Combine a bright-and-peppy narrative voice, something like Sandra Bullock in "Miss Congeniality," with a stark horrific existential life-threatening and mysterious force, something like what Sandra Bullock experiences in "Bird Box," and there you have it. Or maybe the stark horrific existential life-threatening and mysterious force here is cancer, because, until the book becomes populated by demons about half-way through, the first scenes are all about cancer and its indignities, and the book recalls the jarringly peppy tone of "People Like That Are the Only People Here" by Lorrie Moore. I loved the zany wildness of this book and the willingness of the author to explore many possible vectors of outcomes, once she had established the horror-story setup of a woman alone in a mysterious and isolated environment. I felt the story went in a few too many directions a little too quickly, though, to be an entirely satisfying read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    I can't think of a book I disliked more! Reviewed as funny, poignant, a 'horror-humour' romp, this novel fell flat for me, neither funny nor frightening - just absurd. In fact, some of it actually made me quite angry, particularly the teacher without any moral compass or professionalism. Even though I understood her behaviour was altered by her brushes with the "demons", I wasn't able to sympathise or empathise, except for the "horror" of her cancer. The writing was simplistic, the warped charac I can't think of a book I disliked more! Reviewed as funny, poignant, a 'horror-humour' romp, this novel fell flat for me, neither funny nor frightening - just absurd. In fact, some of it actually made me quite angry, particularly the teacher without any moral compass or professionalism. Even though I understood her behaviour was altered by her brushes with the "demons", I wasn't able to sympathise or empathise, except for the "horror" of her cancer. The writing was simplistic, the warped characters were unappealing, and the supposed humour was often misplaced or even tasteless. Thank goodness the print was larger than usual, which made it possible to read this quickly, wasting only a couple hours of my time. :(

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barb (Boxermommyreads)

    I will be honest and admit that this is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I loved it. The main character, Eleanor, is snarky and sarcastic and since the book is told from first-person blog form, the reader gets plenty of her attitude. On the other hand though, it kind of has am ambiguous tone to it. Is all the crazy stuff really happening or is Eleanor slowly falling off her rocker? Shortly after being dumped by her boyfriend of four years, Eleanor learns she has breast cancer. After ove I will be honest and admit that this is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I loved it. The main character, Eleanor, is snarky and sarcastic and since the book is told from first-person blog form, the reader gets plenty of her attitude. On the other hand though, it kind of has am ambiguous tone to it. Is all the crazy stuff really happening or is Eleanor slowly falling off her rocker? Shortly after being dumped by her boyfriend of four years, Eleanor learns she has breast cancer. After over a year of treatment, she is ready to move on and lands the job of a lifetime as a teacher in the small community of Talbingo. However, things quickly become very weird and before long, Eleanor is having late night sexual encounters with one of her student's brothers and the local friar is trying to exorcise her of the demon which caused her cancer. As I mentioned, I really liked Eleanor but let's be honest, there's a whole lot of crazy going on in this book. I can see where some might become easily irritated with Eleanor and her foul mouth and moods, but I didn't and I was really cheering her on. There is a small mystery as to what happened to the original teacher Eleanor replaced and I would like to say I now know what happened, but I don't. I'd say this book is pretty light on horror but deep down, it may have deeper horror roots than originally thought. So am I confusing you? Welcome to the bus. However, even with all this, I really enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down. I do feel if people like their books tied up in neat little packages (even if those packages contain a severed head or are dripping blood), then "The Bus on Thursday" might not be the best book to pick up this Halloween season. But if you are even remotely interested, hop in, strap on your seatbelt and prepare for a bumpy ride.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    “The Bus On Thursday” by Shirley Barrett is a wacky novel about a thirty-year-old woman and her life after a cancer diagnosis. The story begins with narrator Eleanor Mellett informing the reader of her recent breakup from Josh to her finding an itch on her armpit that turns out to be an aggressive cancer. The reader feels Eleanor’s indignity as the healthcare profession goes from a fine-needle biopsy (sounds easy and turns out to be harrowing) to a full mastectomy. The beginning of the novel is “The Bus On Thursday” by Shirley Barrett is a wacky novel about a thirty-year-old woman and her life after a cancer diagnosis. The story begins with narrator Eleanor Mellett informing the reader of her recent breakup from Josh to her finding an itch on her armpit that turns out to be an aggressive cancer. The reader feels Eleanor’s indignity as the healthcare profession goes from a fine-needle biopsy (sounds easy and turns out to be harrowing) to a full mastectomy. The beginning of the novel is laugh-out-loud funny. Poor Eleanor and the humilities that follow after breast cancer. In fact, it’s so honest that I needed to check again to make sure this is fiction as opposed to nonfiction. She goes to support groups where she doesn’t fit in, although she garners one great idea of journaling her feelings (blogging to the young people). From this point, the novel is a series of journal entries. To get herself out of her inertia, she accepts a teaching job in a remote village in Australia. This is where the novel takes a serious turn from reality fiction to farcical fiction. Eleanor is replacing a beloved teacher who mysteriously vanished. It is here that Eleanor becomes an unreliable narrator. The novel takes an almost madcap nightmarish turn. It’s a fast read. It’s clever and outlandish. I can’t say I’d recommend it, but I can say I felt it was worth my time in reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn Crupi

    Intensely weird and disorienting and with a strong voice (I love a strong voice) but sadly the weird becomes the central focus at the expense of plot. I commend Barrett though because nobody is writing Australian fiction like this.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I saw two BookTubers recommend this book. The first one described it as a cross between Bridget Jones's Diary, Twin Peaks, and The Shining. The second called it the Australian Fargo. I was captured because neither person could really describe it. Was it horror? Dark humor? I had to find out. I don't think either of these descriptions accurately or completely captured the tone of the book. The main character, Eleanor, was unlikeable. She faced several crossroads throughout the book and she always I saw two BookTubers recommend this book. The first one described it as a cross between Bridget Jones's Diary, Twin Peaks, and The Shining. The second called it the Australian Fargo. I was captured because neither person could really describe it. Was it horror? Dark humor? I had to find out. I don't think either of these descriptions accurately or completely captured the tone of the book. The main character, Eleanor, was unlikeable. She faced several crossroads throughout the book and she always managed to choose the wrong path. Her musings on her cancer, which hadn't changed her priorities in life, were refreshingly honest. Yet in spite of all of her character flaws, I was rooting for her to find a way out of all of the trouble she found herself in. Perhaps, in some ways, Eleanor could have been a Bridget Jones if Bridget was deliberately unlikeable, didn't have any friends in her life, and if nothing turned around for her in the end. The side characters probably were a combination of Twin Peakswith a quirky side of Pushing Daisies. They were so oddly bizarre and unrealistic yet I found myself wanting to read more about them. Any of them. From the pastor who believed Eleanor to be possessed, to one of her too-old-for-primary-school students who continually stared at her chest, to the woman who hounded her to decoupage a box (or urn) for the missing-then-found-dead previous primary teacher. I don't usually develop such an interest in all of a book's characters but Barrett made even the peripheral seem interesting. If you are looking for a horror novel, this won't satisfy your urge but if you're looking for a few minor supernatural scares, this one will check the box. I couldn't really figure out whether these were the result of the unreliable narrator's drinking habit or if they existed outside of her mind but it seemed to be besides the point Barrett was trying to make. This book was filled with dark humor in the vein of Darkly Dreaming Dexter. The Bus on Thursday can't be pigeonholed into a genre or compared to a similar book. That is preciously why this book was so delightful, wicked, and refreshing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Bonkers and crude in some of the same ways as Melissa Broder’s The Pisces. Eleanor has completed her treatment for breast cancer and, eager to rebuild her physical and mental health, takes on a last-minute teaching role in a remote Australian township where there’s barely phone signal or Internet access. She’s considered a poor substitute for the much-loved Miss Barker, who recently disappeared without warning. Everyone Eleanor meets in Talbingo seems to give a different, definitive explanation Bonkers and crude in some of the same ways as Melissa Broder’s The Pisces. Eleanor has completed her treatment for breast cancer and, eager to rebuild her physical and mental health, takes on a last-minute teaching role in a remote Australian township where there’s barely phone signal or Internet access. She’s considered a poor substitute for the much-loved Miss Barker, who recently disappeared without warning. Everyone Eleanor meets in Talbingo seems to give a different, definitive explanation for why she developed cancer, including anxiety, poor diet, anger or demons (the local priest even attempts an exorcism). As she starts up an affair with her orphaned student’s alluring older brother, peculiar things start to happen and Eleanor has to question her sanity. She writes up her experiences as chatty blog posts. You might think of this as a hybrid work of magic realism and horror, though ultimately I concluded that (view spoiler)[the entire thing is meant to be a set of dreams and/or hallucinations Eleanor has as breast cancer metastasizes into her brain (hide spoiler)] . I think you’d have to have a particular sense of humor to really love this one. A representative line: “on a scale of one to being carted off to the nuthouse in a straitjacket, let’s just say I am well and truly into the red section.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lukas

    Well, this certainly takes a turn for the weird towards the end.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Review to follow.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Eleanor moves to a very small town to teach, after completing breast cancer treatments. I really liked the first part of this book, but then the last third or so was just weird. I guess I didn't realize it was supposed to be a sort of horror story. It's one that ends in a way that you are never sure what really happened. Is Eleanor crazy? Is everyone else evil? Did anything really happen? Maybe Eleanor is actually dead? Etc. I don't like books that end on a question mark. It's cheating. If you w Eleanor moves to a very small town to teach, after completing breast cancer treatments. I really liked the first part of this book, but then the last third or so was just weird. I guess I didn't realize it was supposed to be a sort of horror story. It's one that ends in a way that you are never sure what really happened. Is Eleanor crazy? Is everyone else evil? Did anything really happen? Maybe Eleanor is actually dead? Etc. I don't like books that end on a question mark. It's cheating. If you write a book, it's your job to tell us what happens, not leave us hanging. Again, I enjoyed the first part of the book quite a lot, but the weirdness of the second half and the ambiguous ending means only 2 stars from me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Bowyer

    I suspect this will appeal to readers who enjoy humour such as the Netflix series The Santa Clarita Diet. Unfortunately, it didn't click with me. For me, Eleanor, the central character, became more unlikable as the narrative progressed. The humorous style of narrative also meant that the parts that I think were supposed to be horror / scary just felt a little cringe-worthy to me. It was a very easy to read book - written in an almost stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, it feels like h I suspect this will appeal to readers who enjoy humour such as the Netflix series The Santa Clarita Diet. Unfortunately, it didn't click with me. For me, Eleanor, the central character, became more unlikable as the narrative progressed. The humorous style of narrative also meant that the parts that I think were supposed to be horror / scary just felt a little cringe-worthy to me. It was a very easy to read book - written in an almost stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, it feels like having a friend on the phone who just won't stop talking. Judging by others' responses to it, I think this novel will have a bit of a cult following! Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the ARC.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashley (bookishmommy)

    Thank you FSG Originals for providing free copies to the Night Worms in exchange for honest reviews. While I dont think I'd classify The Bus on Thursday as horror/thriller I am so glad this book found its way to me. It was HILARIOUS in a dark way. I actually laughed out loud multiple times and that's rare for me. Beneath the humor though I found this book to pull at my heartstrings. Eleanor was likeable albeit over the top and dramatic but that's what I like!! The ending left me a bit confused b Thank you FSG Originals for providing free copies to the Night Worms in exchange for honest reviews. While I dont think I'd classify The Bus on Thursday as horror/thriller I am so glad this book found its way to me. It was HILARIOUS in a dark way. I actually laughed out loud multiple times and that's rare for me. Beneath the humor though I found this book to pull at my heartstrings. Eleanor was likeable albeit over the top and dramatic but that's what I like!! The ending left me a bit confused but it is a page turner for sure. Oh and I also loved the blog style format. So fun.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna Baillie-Karas

    This opens strongly with observations about cancer treatment that had me laughing out loud. The narrator has a cynical, biting sense of humour that I found refreshing & very funny in parts - like a good friend telling you a story, no holds barred. But she becomes unlikeable (a bad teacher, violent & irrational) & the story overblown, so I became less engaged as it went on. It’s been compared to Twin Peaks or Fargo but I think it’s too farcical - and maybe suffered from the comparison This opens strongly with observations about cancer treatment that had me laughing out loud. The narrator has a cynical, biting sense of humour that I found refreshing & very funny in parts - like a good friend telling you a story, no holds barred. But she becomes unlikeable (a bad teacher, violent & irrational) & the story overblown, so I became less engaged as it went on. It’s been compared to Twin Peaks or Fargo but I think it’s too farcical - and maybe suffered from the comparison as I love both of those shows, but this didn’t give me the same sensibility. (The Bridget Jones comparison is more apt). Lively writing & voice; so-so story. Hard to rate - it’s about 3.5 as it didn’t quite hang together for me, but robust enough to round up to 4. 😬

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bert Zee

    The testimonial screaming at you from the front cover, “get ready to laugh as goosebumps rise” is so perfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever really read a book that combines horror and humour so well, it’s so damn clever. There were times I was laughing out loud and then others where I felt unsettled and uneasy because I knew something scary was about to happen, this is some exceptional writing right here, this is how you write a horror/comedy novel. Loved it. Didn’t want it to end. One of my favs of t The testimonial screaming at you from the front cover, “get ready to laugh as goosebumps rise” is so perfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever really read a book that combines horror and humour so well, it’s so damn clever. There were times I was laughing out loud and then others where I felt unsettled and uneasy because I knew something scary was about to happen, this is some exceptional writing right here, this is how you write a horror/comedy novel. Loved it. Didn’t want it to end. One of my favs of the year. It’s like a creepy episode of The Twilight Zone mixed with the Karen Black segment of Trilogy of Terror. 4.5 stars!

  28. 4 out of 5

    jenni

    this is a horror novel - the horror being cancer. there was an atmosphere to this book that feels difficult and almost comical to describe, like every time i opened it there was a buzzing in my ears. this book is clearly about the nightmare of cancer. so many things dinning: our protagonist relocates after a stunning cancer diagnosis. the author, shirley barrett, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly following her book's publication. my maternal grandmother, shirley abbott, passed away in her this is a horror novel - the horror being cancer. there was an atmosphere to this book that feels difficult and almost comical to describe, like every time i opened it there was a buzzing in my ears. this book is clearly about the nightmare of cancer. so many things dinning: our protagonist relocates after a stunning cancer diagnosis. the author, shirley barrett, was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly following her book's publication. my maternal grandmother, shirley abbott, passed away in her mid-40s from breast cancer. every time i took to reading this book, I felt this ominous overlay of subtle terror, like something was about to go wrong at any moment; shortly after finishing the book, we learned that my other grandmother had just been diagnosed with yet another cancer, her third diagnosis- one of them breast cancer. oh, but the cacophony of eleanor's mental and physical meltdowns..! she is hysterical - both in mood and voice. she is uncouth, foul-mouthed, boorish in front of children, borderline reckless, and semi-hallucinatory. she is dangerously, horrifically funny. she is heartbroken and reaping madness. eleanor has an effortless, self-depricating charm in her narration of cancerous absurdity: cancer, so mutable and devastating, so unamenable and surreal. the last few pages of the story turned me into fucking mist, deteriorated completely by the exquisitely tragicomic decadence of its spectacularly crafted ending. this book is a compulsive, mixed-genre gift of delight and dismay.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patty Smith

    Thank you to Netgalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Shirley Barrett for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and 100% independent of receiving an advanced copy. Wow! What did I just read?? I had no idea that I would love this genre as much as I did. I had no idea there was this genre. It’s a combination of horror, dark comedy and humour. It was irreverent, imaginative, off-kilter and creepy. It was thoroughly enjoyable. The story begins as Eleanor finds a lump under h Thank you to Netgalley, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Shirley Barrett for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and 100% independent of receiving an advanced copy. Wow! What did I just read?? I had no idea that I would love this genre as much as I did. I had no idea there was this genre. It’s a combination of horror, dark comedy and humour. It was irreverent, imaginative, off-kilter and creepy. It was thoroughly enjoyable. The story begins as Eleanor finds a lump under her armpit. So begins her cancer journey. Now, if you are expecting some inspirational story, some uplifting acts by a brave soul, or a story of a supporting community who helps her through her struggle - ummm, no. Oh, I know, self discovery of what is really important in life and a big thank you to the big C because she would never have grown and learned these important life lessons without it. Well, you can forget that. Eleanor is blunt, honest, witty and doesn’t sugar coat things. She gives it to you straight. She’ll tell you what she is feeling about having cancer, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But she is also hilarious. I found it refreshing and endearing. She tell you her mother is bugging the crap out of her. Her best friend is getting married and tells her “Never mind your cancer, are you still gonna be my f-ing bridesmaid?”. Eleanor has to quit her job because you can’t teach while going through chemo. The rub is, Eleanor recently broke up with her long time boyfriend, Josh, because she wanted children and he didn’t. So getting cancer is sort of a kick in the pants. I don’t know if I would have laughed with such abandon if I wasn’t a cancer survivor, but laugh I did. Eleanor has wit and her honesty is refreshing. So, when she sees a teaching job available in this remote town with only only one class of eleven students, Eleanor decides a change of scenery is exactly what she needs. Cue creepy music. The previous teacher has disappeared, mysteriously, and the whole town has this bizarre idol worship for Miss Baxter. Something is not right. The students are weird and they have this intense adoration and love for their old teacher. All facts point to Miss Baxter as teacher of the year, however, there are some strange habits that come to light. The townspeople are even stranger. Upon meeting the preacher, he tries to perform an exorcism on Eleanor, convinced that her cancer was a demon and that it is still inside her. Eleanor is clearly struggling, often drunk, showing up for class hungover and unprepared, swearing at kids when she loses her temper. Oh yeah - having sex with her student’s brother, who happens to be his guardian, and who was also sleeping with Miss Baxter, illustrates her impaired judgement. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in questionable choices that Eleanor makes. The townsfolk give a very “Twin Peaks” vibe. Each character can either be creepy or quirky and you are never sure which. The fun is reading through all of the craziness that goes on once Eleanor moves to this town. I often felt off-balance because sometime you aren’t sure if something is really happening or if it is in Eleanor’s imagination. Also, sometimes, the stuff that happens is just unbelievable, in the way of, I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened, shocked kind of way. Some readers found Elenor an unlikeable character. I can understand that because she does some indefensible things when she get to town. But, I understood it from the viewpoint that, after going through cancer treatment, you can feel lost, not like yourself. All the things that made you you, are gone. As you reach out to regain those things, you might do some pretty crazy things. This was a delightful and unexpected. If you like offbeat or just want something new and different, I am really recommending this read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)

    This novel is thoroughly disconcerting, with its odd mix of sarcastic banter, creeping horror, self-destruction and laugh-out-loud humour. Although it’s very different from Shirley Barrett’s first novel, Rush Oh! it has a similar queasy effect. It’s confrontational, daring you to be offended (and at times it’s extremely offensive) but also daring you to understand the depravity.

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