Book Review: The London Train by Tessa Hadley

There is little doubt, if not any, that Tessa Hadley is a good writer. By all means, The London Train is well written book, and perhaps the most unique thing is an interconnection just when you thought the book was done and dusted.

The book focuses on the death of parents and its impact on two very different adults, who at one point have an affair with each other, and then go about their lives. The book begins with a mother’s death and follows events of her son, Paul’s life. He comes off as unemotional, as if playing the role of a father and a husband out of pure societal pressure. His reactions to most things, save for when the neighbour decides to cut trees that run along common trajectory, are muted. This unemotional, muted, boring characteristic runs in Cora, whose story is narrated later on in the book.

Cora and Paul have an affair during different time-lines, (Cora’s story is set before Paul’s) and I still haven’t understood how exactly they met and went on their separate ways. The whole involvement comes off bland, like white rice on a plate. The most spicy things to write about are affairs, their deep emotional impact and yet, Hadley’s novel merely paints the entire thing as a sapless episode.

Points for writing, but none for plot.


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