Tony and Susan - Austin Wright Stories within stories are nothing new in literature but seldom have they worked as well as they have here.

Susan is a middle aged/middle class wife and mother who receives in the post a manuscript written by her ex husband Edward. Their marriage had been brief and one of the causes of the breakdown of the marriage was her husband’s urge to write. Susan felt resentful as she would have to support both of them, and as a teacher of English Literature, she should have had the literary aspirations.

He asks her to read the manuscript and meet him after reading it for a discussion, as he reminds her she was always his best critic.

Susan begins reading Edward’s manuscript, Nocturnal Animals, which turns out to be a compelling, fast-paced nightmare of a story.

"There was this man Tony Hastings, his wife Laura, and his daughter Helen, traveling east at night on the Interstate in northern Pennsylvania. They were starting their vacation, going to their summer cottage in Maine. They were driving at night because they had been slow starting and had been further delayed having to get a new tire along the way. It was Helen's idea, when they got back into the car after dinner, somewhere in eastern Ohio: 'Let's not look for a motel,' she said, 'let's drive all night.' "

What follows is a shocking tale of abduction, rape and revenge. Susan is shocked and wonders if the violence in the book is a subtle message to her. But she is gripped by the story of Tony Hastings and reads on loosing hersel in the book and her normal mundane existence plods on and she begins to question her own not so perfect life and look back on her marriage with Edward.

For me it was a book about reading and where it takes you and how much more intense those feelings must be when the writer knows you, the reader, intimately. Also as a reader I identified with a lot of Susan’s reading responses...worrying as to when she could get back to the novel and at the beginning feeling almost reluctant to start reading as she knows how much time she will have to invest in the experience.

I liked the ‘cleverness’ of the structure, thought the ‘Tony’ part was compulsive reading but I couldn’t engage with any of the characters, I found them a bit flat and felt the story fell away at the last. I felt rather disappointed and rather underwhelmed by the whole experience.