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Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize 2021.

A Times, Sunday Times, Observer, Daily Mail and Financial Times Best Book of 2020 Pick.

When Hannah is invited into the First-Class carriage of the London to Penzance train by Jinni, she walks into a spider's web. Now a poor, young single mother, Hannah once escaped Cornwall to go to university. But once she married Jake and had his child, her dreams were crushed into bitter disillusion.

Her husband has left her for Eve, rich and childless, and Hannah has been surviving by becoming a cleaner in London. Jinni is equally angry and bitter, and in the course of their journey the two women agree to murder each other's husbands. After all, they are strangers on a train - who could possibly connect them? 

But when Hannah goes to Jinni's husband's home the next night, she finds Stan, a huge, hairy, ugly drunk who has his own problems - not least the care of a half-ruined house and garden. He claims Jinni is a very different person to the one who has persuaded Hannah to commit a terrible crime. Who is telling the truth - and who is the real victim?

©2020 Amanda Craig (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"A highly enjoyable story about female resilience and finding fulfilment on your own terms." (Sunday Times)

"An irresistible summer read." (Guardian Book of the Day)

"A typically sharp and hugely satisfying page-turner." (Daily Mail)

What listeners say about The Golden Rule

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Dull, condescending and a little embarrassing

Quite how this book has garnered such positive reviews is beyond me. The prose is laboured and full of cliches. The stereotypes of working-class lives, especially Cornish ones, are wince inducing. As for the posh, villainous characters, they feel like they've been lifted from the pages of a children's book. The entire novel reads like someone who is in their late 60s, with plenty of cash in the bank, attempting to write about millennial life. You have been warned.

7 people found this helpful

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Not my cup of tea

More of a romance than a thriller

I’m new to the writer, and I was expecting a thriller, not a romance. I admire the writer’s attempts to subvert the genre and her attempts at making a strong female character, but it didn’t work; came across forced and unbelievable. (Rather than having the protagonist say strong words, get them to be and act strong?)
I wanted to slap the main character by the end.
I also felt it a bit patronising to working class families and jobs.

6 people found this helpful

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Feel a bit force fed.

Not bad but spoilt by the author shoehorning politics and issues (and this comes from someone who agrees with much of the politics in the book). Personally, I prefer subtlety of author voice hidden within a great story and characters I’m invested in. It’s pretty relentless and sometimes cliched and that resulted in me feeling the author doubted my intelligence and felt she needed to spell things out for me.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent from start to finish

Amanda Craig has again written an intelligent, witty and relevant novel that straddles genres and delights in the richness of its prose

3 people found this helpful

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Not sure

I really wanted to like this - the "back cover blurb" appealed, it sounded a good premise for a gripping story; unfortunately on the whole it wasn't. It's likely that it will probably offend people with rural backgrounds or lives and people who voted to Leave the EU, or Conservative voters - unfortunately the author wears her political colours very clearly on her sleeve and denegrates anyone who doesn't love London or the EU as ignorant bigots and Tory voters as misguided at best! If you can get past that, it's a benign enough book.

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Rings a bell!

Most enjoyable book, read it in three days as couldn't put it down
good credible characters and the plot was a modern day slant on .........

2 people found this helpful

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A Marmite book

You will either love this or hate it, I think - hence the reference to Marmite. It is hard to see there being much middle ground here.I had heard good things about the author and the quality of her work, so I was looking forward to a good listening experience.

What I was treated to was a real mish-mash of cliched opinion, a portrait of Cornwall as an impoverished backwater, the portrayal of the Cornish as rich degenerates/rich outsiders/ignorant, poorly educated, anti-EU locals and the woes of divorcing women. As a representation of Cornwall and the Cornish the author has been very unkind and unfair in my opinion. But the worst thing, for me, was the preposterous central plot device the author used - two strangers meet on a train, discover a common grievance (rich men who are bastards) and agree to carry out the murder of each other's husbands. I just found the whole thing so hard to connect with. On the one hand, the author wants us to believe that the central character is an intelligent woman who has been wronged by her husband and who is struggling to make a life for herself and her young daughter. But on the other hand she wants us to believe that this same intelligent woman would agree to murder a complete stranger after a few glasses of wine on a train and, by doing so, put her daughter's welfare and future in jeopardy. Utter tosh.

The author clearly has strong political and feminist views. There is nothing wrong with either of those things but she did lay some of it on thickly; some subtlety and finesse would have helped. The characters themselves were well drawn and some of them were likeable. But overall, the silly central device plot ruined the whole thing for me.

The narration was very good.

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Disappointed

This is my first book by this author. I had read some good reviews but was disappointed.

I felt the story was cliched and the protagonists massive caricatures. The story had some promise but ultimately didn’t deliver for me.

Also I didn’t particularly enjoy the reader.

1 person found this helpful

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Oh dear!

Hard to know how this book got published- absurd story line, child-like writing, long pages of painfully naive political views....

1 person found this helpful

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Utterly unbelievable

Sadly held no sense of reality, extremes of coincidence left no tension or curiosity as to what might happen to each character.

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  • Kelly
  • 05-07-20

Different but good...

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this. According to the blurb you think Strangers on a Train... think again. I felt it was more fairy tale like with lots of political commentary, social commentary which I had no problem with. The author addressed different perspectives of men and women and culture issues. I think so many things were talked about which our protagonist thinks about in her pain and disappointment.
I loved the descriptions of the beauty of nature and the way we can easily wrongly judge people based on first impressions.
Well done.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Annie Smart
  • 05-07-20

Amanda Craig continues to evoke and enthrall.

Just loved it, every aspect. It feels like she writes for me, for my family, my concerns, my experiences. I imagine many others will feel the same way. And it makes me laugh. (I should add, I have read all her previous books and love them, their characters , the 'crime' element, and the semi-fantastical air Craig generates. I've had my life shaped by the very same childrens' books, fairytales, myths and movies. If you've not read her before maybe try the earlier books and follow the sequence through.)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Selene Rackley
  • 04-07-20

Great Story

This was a special book for me. It took me back to my younger days with the author Victoria Holt. I liked the descriptive writing of places I have never been, and lives very different than mine. I loved the story of Hannah and Stan. All in all a very nice change from the type of mystery/thriller I've been reading. Highly Recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 05-08-20

Terrific writing and clean!

I was looking for a writer who does suspence and domestic/psychological thrillers as well as K L Slater and Shalini Boland, two of my favorites. I finally found someone! excellent writing as with Slater and Boland. I appreciate that she uses very little foul language and no explicit sex scenes. Story's plot was unique but the way she writes characters makes the plot work. Also has interresting takes on culture, politics, women’s issues, and rural issues. addresses these issues organically without preachiness. Read this!