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The London Train Paperback – May 24, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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“[Hadley] is a writer who has always allowed her fiction space to breathe beyond its narrative borders. . . . Shows how language, deployed with precision or daring, can make thrillingly new the textures and undercurrents of everyday life.” (Peter Parker, Sunday Times (London))
“Hadley is a close observer of her characters’ inner worlds. Her language can be fine-grained, subtle, eloquent…. Hadley is a supremely perceptive writer of formidable skill and intelligence, someone who goes well beyond surfaces.” (Jean Thompson, New York Times Book Review)
“The London Train brings a quiet, nuanced intelligence to domestic fiction….The London Train is the sort of muted, thoughtful read that requires switching from the clattering express onto life’s slow local tracks. Hadley, a meticulous stylist, has woven into her narrative reflections on memory and time.” (Heller McAlpin, NPR)
“Impressive. . . . a triumph of form.” (Ti Sperlinger, Independent on Sunday (London))
“Hadley’s strength lies in her characterization. . . . . There’s something pleasingly human about them. With characters like these Hadley makes us wonder what forms our own darkness takes.” (Richard Platt, TimeOut (London))
“Spectacular….A compelling and serious page-turner.” (Anna Shapiro, The Observer (London) on Accidents in the Home)
“Tessa Hadley is a writer whose antennae are almost indecently attuned to the interior static of private lives....[M]asterly...” (Emma Hagestadt, The Independent)
“Elizabeth Bowen-like in its attention to nuance in language and behaviour, this concise novel also offers a sharp portrait of modern Britain.” (Peter Parker, London Sunday Times)
“The minds of Paul and Cora are so fully occupied by this most astute and sympathetic of writers....Hadley has crafted real excitement, so that each story ends in a flurry of curiosity and The London Train snaps shut with an effective twist.” (Susanna Rustin, The Guardian)
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Top Customer Reviews
Very introspective, this novel falls into the category where not much actually happens -- but so much does. As the story unfurls and reveals more and more about Paul and Cora's lives, particularly in the past, we're painted an accurate glimpse of two very interior lives. The novel could have become dry -- very easily -- but, you know? For me, it worked. I started reading on a Friday evening and wound up finishing almost half before bed. Hadley's writing is mesmerizing.
Though it lacked the strong emotional component I crave to make a book a favorite, I can certainly see why THE LONDON TRAIN was longlisted for the Orange Prize and is generating buzz. The story's strength, like all good books, lies with the characters. For good or for ill, these were people I really got to know. Without much difficulty, I could probably sketch you a list of their likes and dislikes, pains and triumphs. They're people who will stay with me, especially Paul. It brings chance encounters to new, romantic and heartbreaking heights.
How come two novels? The answer, which Hadley provides in the very useful Harper Perennial P.S. section that follows the text, offers plenty of discussion material. "[I]t began with my desire to write like a man . . . . I wanted to flex the male bits of my sensibility." And flex them she did in "The London Train." In the second novel, "Only Children", which, in her word "mirror[s]" the first, she writes in her normal tone as a woman. Convincing cross gender writing is not easy. Annie Proulx (e.g. "Heart Songs and Other Stories" 1988) carries it off as well as any woman author I've read. The group's views on Hadley's effort are bound to make for lively debate.
Hadley's insights about writing, and about her writing particularly, are quite as penetrating, although not as extensive, those Flannery O'connor provides in "Mystery and Manners" (1970). Hadley expresses hers in the short essay "In Praise of the Present-Day Novel"in the P.S. Section. There is more than enough here to get the group from coffee to cake. "[W]riting is slow, and the `present day' the novelist struggles to express will likely be a lifetime, the whole span of time in which they are alive and witnessing..." Hadley's insights, elegant prose, and sense of time and place make clear that she has mastered the art of writing. See if you don't agree.
End note.Read more ›
Paul is a middling author and critic living with his wife, Elise, and their two daughters. His mother has just died in a home for the elderly; on the last night of her life, she made what the institution's owner calls a "bid for freedom" --- meaning that she wandered out into the garden wearing only her nightgown. When Paul subsequently discovers that Pia, his adult daughter, is pregnant and living in a grubby London flat with a couple of Polish immigrants, he sets out to rescue her. But within days he finds himself slipping into Pia's life, dabbling in a more casual, less thwarted existence.
Loss also triggers change for Cora, a teacher married for a dozen years to Robert, an apparently unflappable civil servant considerably older than herself. Like Paul, she is an only child, and like him she has been left fretful and unmoored by her parents' deaths. Unhappily childless, torn between a desire for independence and her "old-fashioned wife-identity," she starts commuting to Wales to renovate her childhood home with a view to its eventual sale.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book got and kept my attention from the beginning to the end. I really enjoyed reading it and evidently so have many others as I've heard that it is going to be made into a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shannon Underwood
I thought this book was going in a completely different direction. I don't quite get the ending in either characters story it seems almost incomplete to me. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
My main problem with this book is that I just didn't LIKE any of the characters that much so it was hard to get into it. Ms. Read morePublished 6 months ago by KBell
Very depressing. All the people unhappy. Sordid living spaces in many insrances. Very dark book. No real ending. The stories just stopped in the middle of their lives. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Maggie Bookworm
I love books that are set in England...but this isn't one of them. On and on about nothing. Don't waste your time.pPublished 16 months ago by sidneyv123
How does Tessa Hadley know these things? This is a lovely book, so many passages are so full of adult feelings perfectly described. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mary D. Salai
Beautifully written, well-plotted. Nuanced view of the inner life of women. Much narrower view of men's inner lives almost to the point of being stereotypical, but the ones in... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Ricardo Hofer
This book is really 2 interlocked stories about a man who is trying to reestablish a relationship with his daughter and a woman who is sorting out her life in the midst of her own... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Claire