The London Train

by Tessa Hadley

Monday, March 28, 2011

I picked this up as it jumped out of the Orange Prize longlist at me. Not quite sure why it did that as I’ve never heard of the author before and I don’t remember what I read about it or where. All I can remember is something about it being a book of two halves and that they are linked.

I thought it was a great story and one I don’t want to say much about as I think all the reviews I’ve just flicked through (newspaper ones mainly) give away far too much about the characters and the story. I enjoyed coming to it ‘cold’ with few expectations. Not knowing where/how/why the links would come was good and they didn’t come where I thought they were going to though the reviews casually mention them as if they are obvious.

Hadley paints some great character portraits here. There’s a class issue underlying some of the relationships which I thought was a bit shakily explored. But on the whole I thought the characters were well drawn and fully fleshed out. And going with the “book of two halves” thing there are really two endings. Neither of which were quite what I expected and mostly I’m glad the author left us at those points.

An author I’ll be looking out for again for sure.