The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig review – exquisite escapism

Two strangers on a train make a deadly pact in a witty state-of-the-nation novel combining romance and social realism

With this year’s getaways so uncertain, summer reading feels less of an indulgence than a vital source of escape. Amanda Craig’s new novel, The Golden Rule, is an ideal contender for such times, offering comfort and wit, compassion and philosophical stimulation, all played out against the backdrop of Cornwall’s subtropical splendour.

Its protagonist is Hannah, whose bookish ways let her succeed where her mum failed, fleeing their ungentrified seaside town for a degree at Durham and a promising career in advertising. Austenesque heroine that she imagined herself to be, she snagged a husband at university, too: handsome, aristocratic Jake, who reveals his ugly side only after Hannah accidentally becomes pregnant. By the time we meet her, she’s a single mum on a council estate, cleaning houses to support their young daughter. Along with her confidence, she’s lost her guiding belief in literature’s life lessons.

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