The London Train

Tessa Hadley

The London Train is a novel in two parts, separate but wound together around a single moment, examining in vivid detail two lives stretched between two cities. Paul lives in the Welsh countryside with his wife Elise, and their two young children.

The day after his mother dies he learns that his eldest daughter Pia, who was living with his ex-wife in London, has moved out from home and gone missing. He sets out in search of Pia, and when he eventually finds her, living with her lover in a chaotic flat in a tower block in King’s Cross, he thinks at first he wants to rescue her. But the search for his daughter begins a period of unrest and indecision for Paul: he is drawn closer to the hub of London, to the excitements of a life lived in jeopardy, to Pia’s fragile new family. Paul’s a pessimist; when a heat wave scorches the capital week after week he fears that they are all ‘sleep-walking to the edge of a great pit, like spoiled trusting children’.

In the opposite direction, Cora is moving back to Cardiff, to the house she has inherited from her parents. She is escaping her marriage, and the constrictions and disappointments of her life in London. At work in the local library, she is interrupted by a telephone call from her sister-in-law and best friend, to say that her husband has disappeared.

Connecting both stories is the London train, and a chance meeting that will have immediate and far-reaching consequences for both Paul and for Cora.

The London Train is a vivid and absorbing account of the impulses and accidents that can shape our lives, alongside our ideas; about loyalty, love, sex and the complicated bonds of friends and family. Penetrating, perceptive, and wholly absorbing, it is an extraordinary new novel from one of the best writers working in Britain today.

Explore the other winners

Shortlist announced - 21 Apr

Stay in the loop

Enter your email to be the first to know the latest news from the Women's Prize For Fiction

VOTE

Vote for your favourite #WomensPrize winner

Cast your vote for your favourite #ReadingWomen book and decide who will be our Winner of Winners in our 25th year.

Favourite book Live

  • A Spell of Winter
    5% 114 / 2.2k
  • Fugitive Pieces
    2% 45 / 2.2k
  • Larry's Party
    1% 32 / 2.2k
  • A Crime in the Neighborhood
    0% 15 / 2.2k
  • When I Lived in Modern Times
    0% 17 / 2.2k
  • The Idea of Perfection
    0% 13 / 2.2k
  • Bel Canto
    4% 90 / 2.2k
  • Property
    0% 10 / 2.2k
  • Small Island
    8% 199 / 2.2k
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
    8% 182 / 2.2k
  • On Beauty
    3% 72 / 2.2k
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
    19% 445 / 2.2k
  • The Road Home
    2% 55 / 2.2k
  • Home
    2% 51 / 2.2k
  • The Lacuna
    2% 61 / 2.2k
  • The Tiger's Wife
    1% 31 / 2.2k
  • The Song of Achilles
    11% 256 / 2.2k
  • May We Be Forgiven
    1% 29 / 2.2k
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
    2% 59 / 2.2k
  • How to be Both
    4% 99 / 2.2k
  • The Glorious Heresies
    2% 58 / 2.2k
  • The Power
    4% 110 / 2.2k
  • Home Fire
    6% 142 / 2.2k
  • An American Marriage
    4% 103 / 2.2k
Win a set of our 2020 shortlist!

Sign up for the Women's Prize for Fiction newsletter and win a stack of this year's six shortlisted books.

(We will send you occasional emails full of author interviews, extracts and audio, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Please read our privacy policy for more information).