Dead people often make for lively narrators, from Joe Gillis explaining how he wound up face down in a swimming pool in Sunset Boulevard to the teenage narrator of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones observing from heaven how her loved ones are coping with her death. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the living, they’re buoyed by the satisfaction of having narrative closure.
The narrator of Louise Doughty’s ninth novel is also brown bread. She knows she died under a train approaching platform seven at Peterborough station, but apart from that she can conjure only the vaguest wisps of memory of who she was and what she did when she was alive.
Like many ghosts, she is circumscribed by the boundaries of the place where she died, so she has no alternative but to haunt the station. She spends her days either ruminating on the unsettlingness of being a ghost – you have to keep yourself cheerful because if you