I received my copy of Louise Welsh‘s The Girl on the Stairs two days ago and I have just finished reading it. Now, bearing in mind that it’s the summer holidays, so the kids are all home, I have had a stinking cold and that we were out and about for most of yesterday, that’s pretty good going. And the key reason for such a swift read, amongst the sneezing, cooking, cleaning and general ferrying around of said children? It’s a damn fine read!
I love the way that the tension in this novel is so delicately built up. There is an instant sense of tautness in the interaction between Jane and Petra, and then slowly, slowly, subtle layer by subtle layer it builds, to the point of no return. Although there is a thread of uneasiness running through the book, Welsh’s style is such that you shift the feeling of anxiety to one side, in order to follow Jane on her journey of discovery.
Contrasts are cleverly employed; buildings, relationships, characters and life-styles are seemingly at constant odds with one and other, as a mystery unfolds and Jane finds herself in the midst of an unsettling situation, which she yearns to take control of. And does she take control? I couldn’t possibly tell you that! No spoilers here.