Clare Pooley: The People On Platform 5

This rreview is written with thanks to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read and review The People On Platform 5.


Nobody speaks to strangers on the train. But what would happen if they did?

Every day at 8:05, Iona Iverson boards the train to go to work. Every day, she sees the same people and makes assumptions about them, even giving them nicknames. But they never speak. Obviously.

Then, one morning, Smart-but-Sexist-Surbiton chokes on a grape right in front of Iona. Suspiciously-Nice-New Malden steps up to help and saves his life, and this one event sparks a chain reaction.

With nothing in common but their commute, an eclectic group of people learn that their assumptions about each other don’t match reality. But when Iona’s life begins to fall apart, will her new friends be there when she needs them most?


The People On Platform 5 is one of my favourite books this year so far. Clare Pooley is a very gifted author who can write scenes of joy, scenes of sadness, scenes that make you laugh and scenes about serious issues in the space of a few pages and I felt the emotion in every single one. 

By its nature, The People On Platform 5 is very character driven and the perspective of each chapter rotates between each central character: Iona, Piers, Sanjay, Emmie, David and Martha. These characters are all very different in terms of their background and personality but the chemistry is brilliant and their friendship is beautiful. They cheer each other on and give each other advice and I loved seeing their relationships blossom. Pooley has observed them all fantastically and there will be something in this group for everyone to relate to.

Throughout the novel, we learn more about each character’s individual circumstances and as part of this, we read about some heartwarming, poignant and very relevant issues. Pooley approaches these in a wonderful way in order to help us to empathise with the characters but also to think more deeply about the problems each person faces. I became heavily invested in these stories and I really wanted to know how they would end. I was rooting for all of the central characters all the way through. 

The People On Platform 5 is a book I really wanted to finish but didn’t want to end and I am sad to be leaving the people on the platform behind. 

The People On Platform 5 is available from Amazon.

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