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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly written, finely crafted
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...
Published on 10 April 2011 by stevie davies

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
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...
Published on 2 Jun 2012 by maddie blue


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 2 Jun 2012
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This review is from: The London Train (Paperback)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Mainly missed the boat., 30 May 2012
This review is from: The London Train (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
3.0 out of 5 stars RATHER A DAMP SQUIB, 19 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The London Train (Paperback)
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating!!, 27 May 2012
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This review is from: The London Train (Kindle Edition)
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly mediocre, 19 Sep 2011
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Gerald Price "gdp67" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The London Train (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly written, finely crafted, 10 April 2011
This review is from: The London Train (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow train!!, 28 Jan 2013
This review is from: The London Train (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Two stories travelling slowly but surely to their destination, 23 July 2012
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C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The London Train (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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The London Train, 26 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The London Train (Kindle Edition)
Unfortunately I found the narrative very predictable and the characters dull.
I anticipated the course of events and found nothing novel in its approach to the subject matter.
The vocabulary used and sentence construction was plain.
I really found the whole book quite depressing!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull, dull dull, interesting (30 pages), dull, dull dull., 27 July 2012
This review is from: The London Train (Kindle Edition)
This is an overwhelmingly dull book, with a little tickle of something interesting about three quarters of the way through.

First, the good stuff: if you are interested in Realist Fiction, then probably disregard this review (because I'm not). I pick up a book so that I can dodge the washing up, I don't want to read 20 pages about Joe Average doing the washing up. I loved War and Peace, I hated Anna Karenina.

The whole book reminded me of a soap opera without the so-called 'drama' (shouting). Two characters based in two different places, one urban, one rural, and each one with a reason to travel between the two. 'The London Train' serves as a sort-of conduit between different versions of their self-image. They have parties, they entertain the nieces and nephews, they go to work, they come home, they do the washing up. This is a novel without conflict or drama, full of real people with real problems. If you don't have any real people with real problems in your area (and you begrudge it), then this book is for you.

The 'something interesting' three quarters of the way through is where these two characters meet and have a thrilling conversation about nothing. This meeting evolves into a relationship, and then everything becomes dull again. I wondered, then, whether Tessa Hadley was deliberately making the surrounding novel trite and full of nothing in order to make this part of the book stand out (as it does in the lives of its characters). There is evidence for this in the way she 'switches gear'. The sentences move from short statements of fact, to become long and twitchy and breathless, and then return again to a kind of bored candour. Clever, Tessa, but you'd already alienated me in the dull trudge of getting here.

To sumise, I would have put this novel down after 20 pages had I not been reading it for a book group; I am glad I've finished it, and therefore I don't recommend it.

Dan Crawford
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The London Train
The London Train by Tessa Hadley (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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