Reviews of Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley

Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting

A Novel

by Clare Pooley

Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley X
Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley
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  • Published:
    Jun 2022, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Noshin Haque
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Authenticity Project comes an escapist read that will transport you, cheer you, and make you smile - and make you, too, wish you had Iona's gift for bringing out the best in everyone.

Nobody ever talks to strangers on the train. It's a rule. But what would happen if they did?

Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu. Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do.

Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He'd have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver.

This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you--and even more about yourself.

Iona
08:05 Hampton Court to Waterloo

Until the point when a man started dying right in front of her on the 08:05, Iona's day had been just like any other.

She always left the house at half past seven. It took her an average of twenty minutes to walk to the station in heels, which meant she'd usually arrive fifteen minutes before her train left for Waterloo. Two minutes later if she was wearing the Louboutins.

Arriving in good time was crucial if she wanted to secure her usual seat in her usual carriage, which she did. While novelty was a wonderful thing when it came to fashion, or film, or even patisserie, it was not welcome on her daily commute.

Some time ago, Iona's editor had suggested that she start working from home. It was, he'd told her, all the rage, and her job could be done just as well remotely. He'd tried to cajole her out of her office space with sweet talk of an extra hour in bed and more flexibility, and, when that didn't work, had ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Do you ever talk to strangers on public transportation? If not, why do you think that is? Which of the characters would you most—and least—like to share your commute with?
  2. Iona feels that, at fifty-seven, she's gone from "It Girl" to "Past-It Girl." Do you think that society, and the workplace, undervalue women once they pass fifty?
  3. The story is set in 2019—prepandemic. Do you think your experience of working from home has affected your view of the daily commute and your reading of the novel?
  4. Each of the characters in the book make assumptions about one another, which often turn out to be wrong. What assumptions did you make about them, and who surprised you the most?
  5. All the characters in the story are ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The relationships and bonds formed throughout the book are one of its main highlights. In every pairing, an interesting dynamic arises, challenging our perceptions of the characters. Unconventional combos are formed, and the author guides readers into seeing the hidden treasures of these arrangements, even more so when all of them are put together, making for a perfect dissection of human interaction. There has been a recent wave of novels featuring characters finding solace in atypical groups of friends, such as The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune and One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. I'm certain Pooley's book will find a place amongst these and others in which readers encounter a sense of warmth...continued

Full Review Members Only (732 words).

(Reviewed by Noshin Haque).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Pooley's grasp on the constraints and longings of the human condition proves immensely entertaining. Readers will be charmed by this uplifting, hopeful story rife with tender insights. Traveling with Iona Iverson is a literary journey well worth taking!

Booklist (starred review)
[A] joyous tale about serendipitous friendship and seizing each day with vigor. The epitome of a feel-good book that is also laugh-out-loud hilarious…In a time when our differences so often divide us, Pooley's novel is like a reassuring hug, assuring readers that our differences can strengthen relationships and should be embraced and celebrated. A not-to-be-missed read in the mode of Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

Kirkus Reviews
"As she did in The Authenticity Project (2020), author Pooley has created a cast of individual characters whose lives intersect around a focal point. As the story unfolds, readers learn about the complexities that make each character tick...A soothing story where bad things happen yet are overcome, and friendship leads the way to personal acceptance and rebirth.

Publishers Weekly
The commuters' judgmental attitudes at the story's start are a bit overdone...but the heartwarming tale of overcoming the atomization of modern life strikes a chord. Readers looking for a breezy and rewarding story will find much to love.

Author Blurb Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me More
Clare Pooley has found a delightful way to bring home the point that we need each other.

Author Blurb Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of One Two Three
Pooley delivers not only acerbic, enchanting Iona but a compelling, tangled cast of quirky, complicated characters so engaging, it's enough to make you miss crowded commuter trains.

Author Blurb Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics
Heartwarming, funny, a delicious dive into the profound and ridiculous modern world in which we live. Clare Pooley reminds us why we need each other.

Reader Reviews

Gabi

All Aboard
When a myriad of events bring an unlikely group of train commuters into each other’s lives, these strangers seemingly with little in common find precious friendship and new beginnings. The characters, relatable and likable, are a celebration of ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Generation Gaps in the Workplace

People of different ages working together in a modern office setting Walk into any office and you'll likely find a mix of people at different points of their lives: Baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials. And the presence of Generation Z continues to grow.

Iona, the main character in Clare Pooley's Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting, often experiences people judging her competencies based on her age. She's on the older side, some feel she's past her prime, and she tries desperately to prove them wrong. But what do generational identities say about our capabilities as workers? To tackle this question, we'll first have a look at the impact our generational differences have on us in the workplace, and then delve into the truth of the issue.

How do generational differences affect us in ...

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