Van has finished reading…The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven

4 Sep

I think this is the funniest book I’ve read. And when I say funny I mean hilarious. I mean giggling like a loon on the train. I mean suddenly laughing in the cereal aisle whilst doing the shopping an hour after reading. Even now, typing this out, there’s a smirk hovering as I’m trying to push away that image of Ethel in her balaclava. It never gets old.

The characters are superb (particularly Ethel, I bet she was a dream to write!) – as readers we get deluged with characters that fit their situation and situations that fit the characters, even when they’re being pushed out of their comfort zone. But sexagenarians robbing a bank… Comfort zone doesn’t come into it. What I found enlightening about this aspect of the story is that I’m convinced I’d have found it a good deal less believable had I read it ten years ago. What can I say; we’re all only getting older, aren’t we!

And how interesting that the two funniest books I’ve read recently have older protagonists (the other book being Andrea Bennett’s Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged-Dog Story).

It’s all too easy with a book like this – where the story drives so forcefully along, where the characters live their parts fully, where the humour is relentless – for the craft to slip by unnoticed. There’s some slick use of what I’m aware of (thanks to the Writers’ Workshop Self-Edit-Your-Novel course) as psychic distance to link locations and place characters. There’s also a lot of nicely-handled transition between different points of view, often with just a line bridging between one character and the next, yet there was never a sense of disorientation or of not knowing whose head I was in.

It’s really, really funny. It has its touching moments too, but mostly it’s achingly funny. I think everyone should read this because, let’s face it, everybody laughing can’t be a bad thing. Also, once everyone’s read it there’ll be enough of us to pressure the BBC into putting on the telly.

And just to get the ball rolling, here’s a hand with the cast (this is who me and Mrs. Van saw in our heads, anyway).

Susan – Helen Mirren

Julie – Julie Walters

Jill – Penelope Wilton

Ethel – Brenda Blethyn

Nails – well, Terrence Stamp, obviously

Boscombe – Mark Addy

Wesley – Martin Compston

The Sunshine Cruise Company was published on 13th August 2015 by Cornerstone ISBN No: 9780434023189

You can find John Niven on twitter @NivenJ1


2 Responses to “Van has finished reading…The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven”


  1. Van has finished reading…Straight White Male by John Niven | vanisreading - 22/12/2015

    […] for yourself (though if it’s funny you’re looking for I’d wholeheartedly steer you towards The Sunshine Cruise Company […]

  2. Van has finished reading… Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal | vanisreading - 07/03/2017

    […] the idea of old women misbehaving or doing things they shouldn’t be doing (see John Niven’s The Sunshine Cruise Company), but hang on. Who says they shouldn’t be doing these things? And why not? Let’s face it, they […]

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