Heart-warming human tale is a ‘must read’

London Waterloo Station. Picture Pexels

London Waterloo Station. Picture Pexels

Published Jan 30, 2023


Clare Pooley


Review: Sheila Chisholm

There is an unwritten law between regular train commuters ... Never speak to anyone, unless spoken to. OR something dramatic occurs that necessitates breaking that code.

Such was the case on the 8.05 from Hampton Court to London Waterloo station. That’s the day fellow traveller, Nurse Sanjay, saved successful-looking businessman Piers’ life. Piers would certainly have met his maker if Sanjay, hadn’t calmly responded to Iona’s panic yell “Is there a doctor in the house?” Immediately assessing the situation Sanjay applied the Heimlich Manoeuver to relieve Piers choking to death on a grape.

It was also the day Sanjay hoped to break that unbreakable code by speaking to the “girl on the train who read Rebecca”. But the drama over that grape, blew his pre-planned speech out of his head, as he and Carriage 3's passengers alighted onto Platform 5 at Waterloo station.

Pretty Emmie, unnerved by witnessing Piers’ near death experience and suddenly aware of her own mortality, wonders what she would have contributed to Mother Earth’s well-being should she die right now? Not much, she bewailed to herself. Her self-confidence sank further, upon opening her desk computer and read this email “that pink skirt makes you look like a tart”, signed A Friend. (... is it true? do I look like a tart? Emmie quietly sobbed to herself).

Flamboyantly dressed, clutching her Mary Poppins handbag and sitting her French bulldog Lulu beside her, Iona, 57, one-time actress and journalist of note is headed for a meeting with Ed, her magazine editor. Her long-standing column Ask Iona is under threat. Ed gives her a month to turn her present poor ratings around ... or else.

And so we are given our first glimpse of the main characters who make up this insightful, heart-warming, human tale. “The People on Platform 5” looks into how we judge strangers by their outward appearances, then act on that perception, only to find their lives are also unravelling in unthought of ways. It’s Iona’s wisdom, and unconscious leadership that pulls them, schoolgirl Martha and lawyer David, together to lift their lives into positive spaces.

It’s a beautifully written tale by author Clare Pooley who draws upon her personal experiences to craft a story rooted in human frailties and strengths.

I loved “The People on Platform 5” and consider it should head every reader’s 2023 MUST READ lists.