Originally published: 23 July 2020
Author: Alyson Rudd
Published by: HQ Stories
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 11-15 July 2020
When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube he is instantly smitten. He starts trying to travel on the same tube hoping one day to make eye contact and maybe start a conversation, but travelling on the same tube train as her each day is easier said than done. Sometimes he lets several trains pass, almost making himself late for work for his job at the University in the process.
One day, he decides to follow her just to see where she gets off in the hope he can maybe chat to her or accidentally bump into her and realises she in fact doesn’t seem to have anywhere to be. She chops and changes tube trains with no logic and he looses her. He tries again another time and manages to “bump into her” and get chatting at a café in Waterloo.
Sylvie is in fact his mystery woman. Eight months before Ryan spots her, she has lost her job (because she complained about inappropriate behaviour from a male colleague) and she is given a generous payoff to leave without a fuss. Now she finds herself metaphorically trapped on the underground, seemingly unable to stop travelling.
I loved Alyson Rudd’s first book, The First Time Lauren Pailing Died which I read earlier this year so when I heard she had a new book out, I was excited to join the blog tour, so much so I agreed to read the ebook version (I’m not a fan of ebooks which shows how much I wanted to read it!) The good news is, I loved Eleven Lines to Somewhere just as much!
Ryan and Sylvie are the central characters in this book but there is a large cast of supporting characters who add depth to the story. We hear from Ryan’s side of the family – his grandfather, mum and older sister Hana live together. Ryan’s older brother died tragically as a child and he lost his father too. Hana was married but it ended badly and as the book begins, she has started dating again.
I loved the mystery of why Sylvie travels the underground and when we find out the reason it is heart-breaking and makes complete sense. Ryan wants to do what he can to help her, but is also hasn’t come to terms to the death of his own girlfriend 10 years previously.
I love Rudd’s distinctive writing – she has a particular style of writing which I really enjoy. I like how she takes her time and develops all the characters in the book including Paul (Ryan’s best friend), Naomi (Ryan’s housemate) and Ryan’s family, among others without detracting from the main story.
A story with a central theme of grief, it is poignant and sweet and I loved it. It also made me aware of how much I miss London and can’t wait to travel on the underground again!
Many thanks to HQ Stories for the invite to take part in the blog tour and for the Netgalley copy of the book.
About the author:
Alyson Rudd was born in Liverpool, raised in West Lancashire and educated at the London School of Economics. She is a sports journalist at The Times and lives in South West London. She has written two works of non-fiction. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died was her first novel.