Take the Late Train

Fiction - General
280 Pages
Reviewed on 10/26/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jack Messenger is the author of several novels: Farewell Olympus, Take the Late Train, and Noah's Arc. After living in deepest France for eight years, he exchanged self-sufficiency in fruit and veg for a life of glamour and greyhounds in Nottingham, UK, and is thus more than qualified to write about culture shock and miscommunication. A life-long reader and writer, and a successful author of non-fiction, Jack’s fiction has been reviewed as ‘compelling’, ‘fantastic’, wonderful’, ‘serious’ and ‘engaging’ by people who clearly know what they are talking about. His collection of short stories, Four American Tales, published to wide international acclaim and no financial profit, can be found for free virtually everywhere, including his website, where you are also encouraged to linger over compelling book reviews and ponder life’s mysteries.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Amanda Rofe for Readers' Favorite

Take the Late Train by Jack Messenger is a novel based on the life of Stephen Ketley, a professor whose marriage begins to fray at the seams on his tenth wedding anniversary. Problems with his wife's infidelity is only one of a number of issues that plague him. He is losing weight but doesn't know why, he is estranged from his sister, his flamboyant mother is self-medicating with alcohol, and his stepdaughter is in crisis about her career options. While juggling problems of the present, including a job promotion which he is slightly ambivalent about, Stephen reminisces about the past. More specifically, the idyllic summer he spent in Italy with Giuliana, his first love. She increasingly haunts his thoughts and he wonders if he made a mistake in not pursuing their relationship further.

This is an intelligently and thoughtfully written story about how the choices we make affect our lives. Stephen, the main character, is a university lecturer and a literary man. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the novel is strewn with literary allusions. Some of these I noted and I am fairly certain there were some I missed. However, I would happily go back and read this book again to seek them out. After the first few pages, I was confident that Jack Messenger was going to deliver a good novel. This enabled me to relax and allow the drama to unfold. There were some things left unsaid in this book and the reader was allowed to wonder what might have been. This plot was skilfully executed and added to a very satisfying story line.

Ginger Bensman, author

‘Canny and observant – a sharp and eloquent meditation on finding one’s truth. Simply wonderful.’

Amazon UK review

‘What a treat - hard on the heels of Jack Messenger's Farewell Olympus comes Take the Late Train, a quite different but no less engrossing read. Weaving between the present day and a vivid, in some ways AS present, past, the story is a deliberation on choices made, including what to know and what to be complicit in 'unknowing', and action over inaction. The book’s considerable cast of characters is deftly drawn, and even those with walk-on parts tend to trigger a degree of identification or empathy in the reader. The author inhabits the thoughts of central character, middle-aged academic Stephen, but is equally convincing in his portrayals of a teenage daughter and elderly mother. The sets of couples who variously reveal themselves to be anything but, are juxtaposed with more isolated figures (and indeed, isolation occurs devastatingly within couples). While melancholy - and for some characters, tragedy - is a motif, so too is love. Stephen’s own story includes no small degree of hope, and is ultimately a celebration of free will. With overt and less obvious allusions to Shakespeare and other writers, and prose which blends precision with poetry - elderly, frequently drunk Audrey is 'dishevelled bedevilled' and two greyhounds are perfectly evoked by their 'clipping' in and out of rooms - this is a work to be savoured on many levels. Highly recommended.’ (Amazon UK review)