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Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Literary Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd is published with HQ Stories. Described as ‘a literary love story set against the background of the London underground’, it is a book that creeps under your skin as the pain, the loss and the grief of its central characters, completely captivate your heart and your attention.

Ryan is lost. He lives in his own home with rooms let out to supplement the mortgage. He is a sensible character who is very aware of the responsibilities of his life but also walks in the shadow of death. His brother tragically died when Ryan was younger, followed by his father’s demise into alcohol and also the victim of a tragic accident. Growing up Ryan lived with his mother Grace, sister Hana and his grandfather, who was now slowly drifting into his own mind. Ryan has had to deal with much sadness in his family but to add to that he also lost his college sweetheart, who died in a car crash leaving Ryan heavily impacted in the following years.

Ryan spots a young woman in the tube one day and becomes instantly fascinated by her. Too shy to approach her, he decides to follow her and see where she works but a mystery presents itself to Ryan as she rarely seems to leave the tube and follows no specific pattern in her journey. Confused by her actions, Ryan becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out her story. He is very attracted to her but he is also convinced that he can help in some way. He decides to call her Millie until one day he gets up the nerve to introduce himself and discovers that her name is actually Sylvie. When Ryan hears Sylvie’s story he is deeply touched by her situation and frustrated on her behalf for what she has endured.

‘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…’

As Sylvie begins to entrust herself with Ryan, she meets his family, listens and observes. He starts to see a light at the end of this dark tunnel he has been living in for years. But Sylvie is complex, her story complicated and Ryan begins to wonder, maybe she might not be the right person for him after all.

‘He almost wanted, he realised, to be in that state of wondering if he would ever speak to her and it scared him that he had, without keeping tabs on it, grown up and entered a world that was complicated and ever-changing. It was a world in which people died, where people fell in love only to be hurt, where people were lonely and turned to drink, where the exciting things happened to others.’

Together Ryan and Sylvie navigate some very rough waters. They reveal their inner secrets and fears to each other hoping to build a life together. Their experiences with trauma have created a world that is full of threat. To love is to lose. To trust is to stumble.

Ryan has witnessed his mother Grace all through the years and seen what grief and loss can do to someone. ‘She was a mother bunny for whom the outside world was full of pain and so had burrowed deep into family life.’ He has seen Hana his sister lose faith in herself, her confidence battered. He himself has been competing with the spirit of a dead brother all his life and the memory of a girl that he once loved.

Sylvie lived in a family that thrived on success and image. Sylvie wasn’t made for this competitive world and, following her trauma, turned in on herself, travelling the tube system daily hoping to feel something, to be someone.

Together they embark on a very affecting journey, one littered with obstacles and dark corners. Two wonderfully depicted characters, Ryan and Sylvie connection is almost magical and I found myself rooting for the happy ending they so very much deserved.

Alyson Rudd has created something very unique and thought-provoking with this novel. Eleven Lines to Somewhere will strike a chord with all who have experienced loss and regret. It is a contemporary tale perfectly capturing the slow blossoming of a very delicate relationship. A very poignant, contemplative novel exploring grief and pain in all its many facets.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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