Title: Eleven Lines to Somewhere
Writer: Alyson Rudd
Publishing House: HQ
Date of Publication: July 23rd 2020
Rating: 5 stars
‘’A woman alone could not be alone, it would appear. They all think they can own you, help you, pester you, intimidate you. Only when the trains were moving was she safely in a bubble of isolation, but she could not be in motion the whole day long. It was essential she stopped from time to time, maybe for an hour, maybe for three, to give a station her time, although if anyone asked why she would be sure of the reasoning. Her routine had not been decided by her. It had been decided for her. Most of what she did was done on instinct, after all, and where that came from, she did not know either. Her life held so little logic these days that sometimes she wanted to peer into the Tube tunnels and shriek into the darkness.
Is this all becoming untenable, she thought. What is it I am waiting for?’’
Two people who have gone through terrible moments and losses meet on the Tube A young woman who seems unable to stop her obsessive daily commuting and a young man who tries to leave the overwhelming feelings of loss aside. Over the course of a year, London becomes the finest setting for stories of grievance and death, of hope and love, of finding the strength to start anew in a beautiful contemporary novel that reads like a breath of fresh air.
The madness of the Underground is the ideal setting for a story that really stays with you, especially when you are a daily commuter. Rudd writes about the unexpected impact of a stranger in your life, the conundrum of family relations, friendship and love that comes out of nowhere. London and its unique vibe jumps out of the pages and becomes THE protagonist. After all, it is inevitable.
Make no mistake, though. This isn’t a fluffy romance, ‘’light’’ and naive and remote from reality. On the contrary. Rudd explores the themes of loss in all its forms. The loss of a loved one and the loss of every sense of purpose and destination. And it seems to me that the story poses two questions. Can we let go? Can we share our burden and accept that there may be someone out there who can help us as we can help them? I think that even to the most stubborn of us, the answer is right there. The story of Sylvie and Ryan is depicted through beautiful interactions that are direct, fresh and realistic. There are a few shocking moments that are given quietly and respectfully. My only issue was the ‘’cast’’ of the secondary characters. Apart from Paul, I found each and every one of them horrible for a number of personal reasons. Ed, Hana and Naomi take the cake. I couldn’t stand them.
What made me love this book was Rudd’s commentary on the way women are still viewed in our modern, all-progressive society. I connected with Sylvie instantly. I commute daily, spending over 2 hours going to my work and back, and I cannot count the times I had to change seats because of a weirdo (to put it mildly) man suddenly sitting beside me. I grabbed a wrist twice and I enjoyed it so much! Their look of being exposed and punished by a petite woman is always priceless. No one will defend us so self-defence lessons are mandatory. Six years worthing every penny!
You do not need drama and exaggerations when you have interesting main characters and a powerful storyline. Sometimes, life itself guide you and that’s all we need. Alyson Rudd’s writing is like a soft breeze that makes you dream.