Book review

Turbulence by Jan Mark (2005)

This book is about one of those larger-than-life characters who seem to take up all the space there is in a room the moment they walk into it. Do you know the kind of person I mean?

It's not necessarily a bad thing. It can be quite fun to have someone around who is always the 'life and soul of the party'. But sometimes the attention-seeker can bring with him a kind of dull malevolence which is difficult for the rest of the party to get to grips with.

That's what Sandor Harker is like, the day he comes to dinner. And he really causes a stir in the Winchester family, though it is difficult to pin down exactly what he does to upset everyone so much. I think perhaps it is the feeling of being manipulated that is so objectionable:

It was when I was carrying in the vegetables that I took in that he was sitting at the far end, where Dad ought to have been, head of the household and all that, if we ever bothered about such things. Perhaps we should have bothered. Dad was next to me with Penny on his other side. It was a bit odd, as if he was sitting there in the middle because there was nowhere else. And every head was turned in Sandor's direction. He wasn't holding forth and he didn't seem to be saying anything very amazing, it was just that the others weren't talking to each other, they were listening to him. What he was doing was asking them what they did, almost as if he was interviewing them...

The trouble is, now Sandor Harker has landed in the middle of the Winchester family, he's going to use them as a kind of stage setting on which he can act out an emotional drama. And everyone has a part to play, even if they are confused by the script:

There was something in Penny's tone that gave me the impression that she was trying to get rid of him. To give her a helping hand I jerked the door open. 'Hi!' I said, loud and bright, not surprised to see him or anything, just barging in, the way I usually do.
And Sandor did what I'd seen him do before, spring away from Penny although, as before, he hadn't been doing anything to spring away from.
'Where did you come from?' he said, as though I'd snuck up on them.
'There's a back way in,' I said. 'I thought the shop was shut.'
'Oh!' That wicked conspiratorial glance again. 'Then I'll slip out that way.'
'No need,' Penny said, irritably, and made to unbolt the shop door, but Sandor was already shimmying past me into the kitchen.

Bit of a handful, Sandor Harker. See what Clay Winchester and her family make of him. And see who comes off best.

An excellent read. Once you start you won't want to stop in case the man goes and does something drastic while you're not looking. Highly recommended!

What can I read next?

I always enjoy a Jan Mark book. You can always sympathise with her characters even when they do the daftest things. If you enjoy Turbulence have a look at this one:

Or these two, also by Jan Mark, for slightly more mature readers:

If you enjoy the first person narrative have a look at this brilliant classic by David Klass:

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