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Great July meeting! We read a new author, one that we liked so much we’re reading her again for August. Ok, so maybe some of us liked her. We met to discuss The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. Lorraine led the discussion and did a lot of research on the author, which was great because I suspect none of us knew anything about her.

The Woman in Cabin 10 is the second book by Ruth Ware, In a Dark, Dark Wood is the first. Critics hail her as a modern day Agatha Christie, but most club members disagreed with that. Reviewers also compare her books to Girl on a Train, and I think this is a fair comparison based on the main character’s mental state and how it influenced how people took her and her claims.

In case you forgot, here is a synopsis of the book:

The story follows travel journalist Lo, who accepts an assignment to cover the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise liner Aurora. Eager to escape her apartment which was recently burgled, Lo sets off on this adventure, with rattled nerves and an anxiety problem. Lo witnesses a woman being thrown overboard from the cabin next to hers. Lo reports the crime to the head of security & none of the ship’s passengers are missing. The ship sails on despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that there is a murderer on board.

We had many who loved the book and many who didn’t. Here were the scores: one 9.5, four 9s, six 8s, two 7s, four 6s, one 6.5, four 5s and one 4.

The negative comments stemmed in large part from Lo. She was very whiny and irritating to many – all throughout the beginning of the book. Some felt there were too many loose ends, the ending was implausible, and that the ending dragged out. Some felt it could have been shorter, it stretched the bounds, and it wasn’t a psychological thriller as advertised, it was just weird. Amy called it, “girl on a train on a boat.”

On a positive note, those that liked and loved the book enjoyed that it was more of a whodunit. The portrayal of Lo’s anxiety was well written, and although she was whiny in the beginning, many of us gave the author the slack needed to create a character whose anxiety would make her unbelievable to other characters. Equally important, we understood that we were meant to question her sanity. She was like another suspect in that if she had imagined it all, and the murder had never happened, that would have been a solution in itself. We thought it was a page turner, suspenseful, and had fresh characters—as Kim put it “it wasn’t Reacher or Silva.” Along that same line, Jose liked Lo because he is, “sick of testosterone characters who fight.”

The Woman in Cabin 10 has been optioned by CBS for a movie, we’ll schedule a field trip if and when it ever gets made.

When preparing for the meeting, Lorraine had some questions about things that happened in the book and took the time to email the author and find out answers. Ware replied very quickly and provided additional information for us readers. Here are the Q&As:

1. Why did Carrie wrap the weapon up in Lo's clothes and drop it into the ocean?
Carrie murdered Richard with the weapon so she needed to dispose of it, along with Lo's clothes (which were covered in Richard's blood) since both were evidence against her. The easiest way to do this was weight the clothes with the gun and throw them overboard. She didn't intend for them to be found, it was just bad luck (bad luck for her!) that they landed close to Richard's body and the divers managed to retrieve them.

2. Why did Carrie give Lo $40,000 Swiss Francs?
She gave Lo the Swiss francs because she felt guilty for putting Lo through so much and almost killing her. She stole the money from Richard, figuring that he owed her and Lo for what he had done to them both.

3. To better understand how quickly the story unfolds, Lo’s emails & news reports are interspersed throughout the book. Although the discovery of Anne's body appears quite early on in the book, the dates of the actual newspaper pieces, shows both bodies are found only a few days apart, and the two separate discoveries of the bodies come quite close together in terms of time.

4. Lo's burglary & the original guest (Ernst Solberg) for Cabin 10’s burglary was all part of Bullmer's plan. He was aiming for both the end cabins to be empty - 9 and 10 - so that no one would be able to see or hear something being thrown overboard. But there was a high chance that one or other burglary wouldn't come off, so it was also insurance, to make sure that at least one cabin ended up empty.

Lorraine also brought the snacks and we enjoyed cupcakes with mascara tubes sticking out of them (remember that Lo went to cabin 10 to borrow mascara) and sea creature and seashell cookies. Great job on the creativity, Lorraine.

Additional reading: The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This book influenced Ware’s writing style and is a very short and very chilling book.

We will meet on August 28 to discuss Ruth Ware’s first book In a Dark, Dark Wood. Kelly is leading AND bringing snacks. See you then.

Kerry

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