I read The Last Train Home in 24 hours while I was away on our cosy cabin mini break. It was perfect for that kind of situation where you just want something light and simple to relax with, but – unless you are a big romance reader – that would be the extent of my personal recommendation.
Set in London the characters are standard romance cut outs, who have a lot of money to chuck around. Abbie down to Earth middle-class journalist, and he’s posh in an emotionally neglected way working in finance. Everyone is very attractive. They meet on the tube right before it derails, but for a variety of reasons, years go by they keep failing to get together.
What I liked
- The reasons why Abbie and Tom keep failing to get together are actually believable, fairly reasonable life events. Although they do still make some very frustrating choices!
- It is very easy to read. Chapters – which switch POV – are very short which makes it easy to binge read, just one more chapter…
- There is an undercurrent of trauma in this novel which sets is apart a bit in the romance genre, but honestly its a very light touch, which depending on your reasons for reading this might be a pro or a con. Pro if you want a light fluffy romance, con if you are looking for emotional depth!
What didn’t work
- There is so much alcohol in this book! I feels like nobody ever does anything that does not involve alcohol. Initially I thought it was because they were alcoholics (perhaps resulting from the trauma), or at least problematic binge drinkers, but the book never comments on it. If this book had a smell it would be stale booze.
- At the start of the book there is also a lot of smoking cigarettes! I realise this is set in 2005 but it still felt very odd.
- They both end up with hyper-ambitious, workaholic and selfish partners. To me, they felt too conveniently unsympathetic for this to be realistic. Tom’s situation makes a little more sense than Abbie’s choices. She tells us that she loves her husband but I never felt there was enough emotional evidence for why she makes the decisions she does when he is also being covered in red flags.
- The trauma from the train crash that got sprinkled in didn’t work for me. It didn’t have enough impact, nobody ever did anything with it – especially Tom who would have experienced the worst of it. On the whole, I found this book lacked emotional depth, so the train crash was just like set dressing.
- The last 20%-ish ends up all about babies which I could not be less interested in!
- I finished it two days ago now and I’ve already forgotten most of it.
3 stars for being bingeable and just, like, fine?