The Road from Cromer Pier by Martin Gore
This is a novel that successfully covers so much in a relatively short space. Theatrical life, a small community, financial trickery, and romance is well addressed in this multi layered book which reintroduces some characters from a previous novel as well as bringing in some new ones, such as Tom Stanley. It works well as a standalone novel, as I had no knowledge of the previous book, but I soon felt that I understood some of the issues surrounding an end of the pier theatre as well as those for whom it becomes a focus. Among its impressive list of topics tackled is domestic abuse, stage fright that becomes a long-term metal health issue and complex financial dealings. There are also some very realistic characters struggling to come to terms with challenges in their lives such as retirement. Not that any of the people of this book are on the breadline, but there are those who fear for their way of life. There are long held grudges and indiscretions, mistakes and deliberate actions, and this is an entertaining read throughout.
The setting, mainly in a somewhat faded but still vibrant seaside community, is well drawn, and it is easy to see why it attracts the loyalty of so many of the characters mentioned. It is essentially a contemporary novel, but is pandemic and Brexit free, and is therefore reminiscent of a recent past of community life. I recommend this entertaining book and am glad that I had the opportunity to read and review it.
The book opens with a young woman, Amy Raven, preparing for an important performance. Although apparently possessing a great deal of talent, she is trying to steady herself after developing stage fright. It is an example of the caring nature of those in the theatre management that she is given a chance to redeem her career, especially Janet and Karen, who bear the financial responsibility to ensure that the show goes on. They decide to call on another talented singer and dancer, Hannah, to be a back up for any problems that Amy may have, but in so doing they trigger a series of events that will affect many in the theatre and those on its fringes. Amy is only one person of the many who visits Cyril, an elderly man who has great wisdom to pass on about his own struggles with theatrical life.
Another strand of this book is the financial complexities that emerge from Lionel’s continuing interest in the pier and therefore the theatre. He is the misguided but also challenging character whose selfish actions threatens so much in the town. It is to help with his bad faith that Tom is brought in, an expert in company problems, who is seeking a new way of life after the loss of his wife and all-consuming job. What will he discover in this seaside town?
This is a very human book which brings in enough tension to be an exciting read without pushing it into melodrama. I found it entertaining and the sort of book which creates real interest in the characters so that it is difficult to put down. I soon picked up the strands from the previous novel and enjoyed the way that many of the sub plots were carefully worked out. This is an ideal read for a holiday – and especially one in a seaside resort in good weather!