The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

I’m a big fan of Cath Staincliffe’s books so was really looking forward to reading The Silence Between Breaths. Most of it takes place on the 10:35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston where we follow a group of people who don’t know each other. Each chapter is told by a different character and this works really well as we hear from them and then see themΒ through a different person’s eyes later on. A particular favourite of mine is Jeff, a young unemployed man heading to London for an interview for an apprenticeship. His self-deprecatory humour had me smiling to myself many times in what is ultimately a very sad story.

For sitting amongst the passengers is a young man with a rucksack, ready to cause destruction. The later parts of the story deal with what happened afterwards.

This is such a brilliant book. It’s so easy to read and yet so deep and moving. I found it very poignant and had tears in my eyes on quite a few occasions. Staincliffe is an emotive and empathetic writer and she gets to the heart of the feelings of her characters. This is also a topical book and certainly made me think “what if?”.

This is a really fantastic book. I don’t think this author can do anything wrong for me!


With thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the review copy. Β The Silence Between Breaths was published on 22nd September 2016 by Constable.


  • I’ve recently read this book. I agree with you that it was a very good and topical story, although I didn’t enjoy the latter part as much as the earlier, when we were getting to know the characters. This is the only Cath Staincliffe I’ve read but on the basis of this one I’d like to read more.

    • I thought the first part was quite tense and I really didn’t know which way it would go. The later bits were the ones I found very moving. I’ve read The Kindest Thing, Half a World Away and Letters to My Daughter’s Killer and thought they were all fantastic. In a way she’s got a similar style to Jodi Picoult, in the kinds of stories she writes – topical what ifs – but I like Cath Staincliffe’s style more.

      • I think the first part was tense because you were pretty sure something awful was going to happen (although I did find myself hoping that the disaster would be averted somehow). I thought the later part was very moving and emotional but it didn’t grip me as much.

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