Bookish: The London Train by Tessa Hadley

18 Jan

Hadley, Tessa, London, Train, Novel, Book, Story, Latest, Fiction, Release

Out now, Random House, £12.99

Longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and nominated for the Orange Prize, Hadley’s previous books are praised for being excellent observations of the human condition. Her latest novel continues such a theme, this time using two stories that are linked by a brief encounter and its explosive consequences.

Paul lives with his wife Elise and their two young daughters in the Welsh countryside. When his ex-wife tells him their eldest daughter, Pia, is missing, he travels to London to find her, eventually discovering the teenager is pregnant and living with her enigmatic Polish boyfriend, Marek, and his alluring sister, Anna.

Stumbling into their new world, he becomes strangely captivated by the makeshift family, their carefree attitudes and the excitement of London and soon finds himself under a seductive spell of temptation and possibility.

Cora, meanwhile, has moved from London back to Cardiff, fleeing from a marriage that has been tarnished with disappointment and regret. Filling her time with menial tasks at the local library, she is attempting to move on with her life when she learns that her husband Robert has gone missing.

Told in two parts, the stories become intertwined by a chance meeting on the London train that will change Cora and Paul’s lives irrevocably.

An intense and absorbing story, Hadley exposes the sentimentality of romance by exploring the difficulty of ‘real-life love’, the reality of compromise and the perception changing effects of time on individuals.

However, it’s as much about ideas and idealism as it is about love, with multi-dimensional characters forcing us to reassess, and sometimes rediscover, truths that we thought we already knew.

Read this if: you’ve always secretly longed to start an emotionally charged affair with a stranger.

Don’t read this if: you have to Google the definition of the word ‘metaphor’.

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