"A horror novel about a breast cancer survivor told in the voice of your funniest but most anxious friend, The Bus on Thursday is an appealing mix of genres that is both fluffy and deeply affecting at the same time." —Maris Kreizman, Vulture
"Funny, angry, feminist . . . [Barrett is] a masterly world-builder." —Melissa Maerz, The New York Times Book Review
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.
Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a wickedly weird, wild ride for fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, and Stephen King.
Australian author Barrett's frantically original and sometimes overwrought novel traces the breakdown of headstrong young Eleanor Mellett. The story begins with her in precarious balance, having just lost a breast to cancer surgery and angrily broken up with her long-term lover. She's offered a mid-term teaching job in the little Outback town of Talbingo, and it's such a beautiful, friendly place that she can hardly believe her luck. But how did the previous teacher vanish? And why did she have so many locks on her cottage door? And is Eleanor's new lover overly passionate or actually demonic? As Eleanor drinks too much, commits a series of grotesque blunders, and fights the paranoid suspicion that something is out to get her, readers begin to realize that not everything that's going wrong can be her fault: some malevolent force really must be playing pranks on her. Told in a series of blog posts (though at times the conceit is hard to believe), the narrative races and stumbles from one darkly hilarious pratfall to the next, and is recommended for readers who can laugh while cringing.