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The London Train Paperback – 5 Jan 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099552264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099552260
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"This beautifully evoked fourth novel is a further example of her talents" (Rachel Hore Literary Review)

"Darkly elegant...Hadley writes with grace and intensity, moving from careful, beautiful delineation of character and place...to moments of haunting power. She is brilliant, too, at offering us different perspectives" (Financial Times)

"Tessa Hadley is an understated writer whose concentration on the details of everyday life belies a breathtaking acuity and articulateness... She once again visualizes the monochrome maundanity of ordinary existence in glorious Technicolor... Hadley captures shades of almost imperceptible grey that the reader only recognizes after reading... Hadley shows, with dizzying aplomb, that the distinction between "literary" fiction and the best domestic fiction is spurious." (Leyla Sani Independent)

"Serene style and carefully constructed scenes" (Alex Clark Times Literary Review)

"Hadley's shrewd observation gains in distinction with every book she writes" (Independent)

Book Description

A compelling and beautifully written new novel from the acclaimed Tessa Hadley: a remarkable portrayal of a man and woman whose lives collide on the Cardiff to London train.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By maddie blue on 2 Jun 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was looking forward to reading this book after picking it up in Smiths.. unfortunately it fell apart half way through.. the first half was fairly dynamic.. but the second half just faded into obscurity,, the story failed to grip.. the characters had no definition.. i lost interest... the two halves of the story failed to gel and the characters had insufficient depth for me to care what happened to them.. a great disappointment..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kilronan on 30 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
This a book of two halves, the first disappointing and the second an improvement. The overall result was an unsatisfactory read.

The first part about Paul was not at all credible. While Cora was a more sympathetic and believable character, her story was too thin to rescue what could have been an interesting tale. The book tried to offer insights into the make-up of the characters but a lot of it really did not add up to anything convincing.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By bibliophile on 19 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had been looking forward to reading this book.I had read the reviews when it came out in hardback, and was waiting for the paperback publication.I even put it on my wish list-a rare occurence- I found the story rather flat.There seemed to be a great deal of potential for the novel to be really good and riveting.The characters seemed lacking in depth,and the idea of writing two separate stories linked by the train from Cardiff to London -I wondered where the train was going to come in there had to be more significance than just a means of transport-for me did not particularly work.At first when Cora and Frankie appeared I thought I must have missed something in the first part of the novel.
Overall disappointing,not a bad book, but one that failed to fire my imagination,and left me rather unsatisfied.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lip81 on 27 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a story of two halves and the end leaves much unresolved, very annoying considering the very promising start to the story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Price on 19 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover
I wonder whether some reviewers read a different book to me. Never mind the hype, this is an utterly mediocre compendium of two tales. It seems as if the author wrote two short stories, decided that both of them lacked any form of reader appeal so tied a tenuous knot between the two to fill out a novel. Unfortunately, the lead male character from Story 1 came across as entirely 'out of character' at the point of meeting the lead female character of Story 2.

The use of language is very strange; it ranges from mainstream chick-lit (and I don't mean that in a bad way!) to a Sixth Former taking a chick-lit tale and trying to replace as many normal words with overly flowery replacements to impress their tutor. But, as with any young mind, losing interest in the exercise quite quickly, so the literary floweriness in completely sporadic.

The premise of the book's title was a goldmine of an opportunity, but was so poorly delivered that I'd actually just like those few hours of my life back. You reach the end of the book and feel that just staring out of the window whilst riding a train to London would easily have generated a more imaginative work of fiction in your own mind.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By stevie davies on 10 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
Tessa Hadley is that rare thing, a quietly virtuoso writer, who thinks deeply about her craft and its relationship with traditions of realist fiction. THE LONDON TRAIN is shaped as a diptych, the two panels facing one another - but asymmetrically. It concerns an abortive love affair, between Paul and Cora, which began in a chance meeting on the London train - but the relationship is over when the novel opens and the first section, which is Paul's story, hardly mentions it. Only in Cora's story, which occupies the second panel, do we see retrospectively what lay hidden behind Paul's narrative.

So this is a novel of aftermaths and ambiguities: in each panel there are journeys to London, up and down the line; there are losses and disappearances. The characters are seen through a complex lens that registers their preoccupations, desires and choices when not in one another's orbit. This is a device as intelligent as it is elliptical, throwing the work of interpretation on to the reader. And the mesmerising,suspenseful puzzle of the novel stays with you long after you have put the novel down. Tessa Hadley is an accomplished writer of the short story - and the obliquity of her narrative owes something to the subtle craft of this form. On the level of characterisation, minor characters are peculiarly arresting: Paul's elder daughter, in her lonely, estranged and needy situation, making a demand on her father's heart that he is at last able to answer.

A lovely novel from one of our most distinguished writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dave Baxter on 28 Jan 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
One of the most disappointing books I have ever read. Well enough written, but more of a personal diary where very little of interest seems to happen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Bannister TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Tessa Hadley writes with care; the first half of this book is Paul's story. Paul is clearly not a very nice man who abandoned his first daughter, dotes on his youngest two with his (second) wife Elise and is confused after the death of his mother. Paul gets a phone call to say that his eldest daughter Pia has gone missing and catches a train from Cardiff to London to find her.

The second half is Cora's story, the pace picks up here and we go back in time to when a chance meeting on a train changes the course of her life.

The real delight in this story is the subtle way we are shown the emotions along with a tale how fate can change our lives. The small observations, the real depth of emotions are there to be savoured. The only criticism I have is that Paul's story wasn't nearly as authentic as Cora's. All in all an enjoyable read.
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