The People On Platform 5 by Clare Pooley

Be More Iona

The People On Platform 5 by Clare Pooley is the most charming contemporary novel that I absolutely adored and read it in just two sittings. It was a book I never wanted to end.

Clare Pooley has created a wonderful set of eclectic characters, all totally unique but with one thing in common – they all catch the train into London at the same time. As we meet them, the reader warms to them all. It is easy to envisage the characters and their train carriage setting. They all give each other nicknames in side their heads which is believable as I do that too!

Each day is identical to all the others – until one day and a grape! This is a pivotal day on which everything changes.

Iona is a social, brightly coloured butterfly in a world of grey. Her personality lights up a room. She is also very wise, having a lot of life experience. At fifty seven years old, this beautiful butterfly is invisible at work, passed over in favour of the younger generation. She is not the only one for whom work is important. “If he were no longer a trader, then who would he be?” Our identity should not be tied up in our jobs, we are so much more than what we do for a living.

Everyone wants to fit in whatever our age. A teen is given peer pressure at school and makes a disastrous choice. “She’d only taken that stupid picture because she desperately wanted to fit in, and now she was more isolated than ever.”

Adults also conform to the social norm as we meet a character who works to keep his wife in the luxury she desires. We see how shallow lives are built on shifting sand, when the focus is wealth and status. A life becomes richer as it becomes financially poorer.

We see the importance of following our dreams. “That’s what I’d really like to be … a teacher. I’d like to change someone else’s life, the way he [a teacher] changed mine.” Those who give of their selves are rich beyond belief.

There are those struggling with loss. “I think Bella was the beating heart of our family, and when she went, she left us rattling around.” Sometimes the loss is due to death. At other times it is due to disease or a loss of a job. We meet a character whose lifelong partner has Alzheimer’s. It is a cruel disease robbing people of the present. The character makes a wise decision that if her partner cannot join her in today, she will walk through yesterday with her partner and join her partner in her world.

Encouragement is so important, as are empathy and kindness. All the characters develop these skills once the ice has been broken and they get to know each other.

The People On Platform 5 was such a wonderful, warm read that I absolutely adored.


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