Winner of the Gold Medal in the 2012 eLit Awards in the Short Story Collection category!

London Road: Linked Stories by Tessa Smith McGovern


On the morning of her release from prison, the hottest day on record in England, Janice Bailey makes her way to a boarding house in London, and discovers a bizarre new world.

Part memoir, part fiction, this moving collection of seven linked short stories begins with ‘When Janice Bailey Walked’, an award-winning story first published in the Connecticut Review. It continues with six more stories as told by the eccentric residents of Number 17, London Road, thus illuminating a little-known side of the most beautiful city in Europe.

Information Pages include: About the Author, Memoir or Fiction?, About the Publisher, Submit to eChook, You, the Editor, and Other eChook apps.


“…reminiscent of the writer who appears in one of the stories: the great Katherine Mansfield.”
Cynthia Rogerson, winner, V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for a Short Story, 2008, UK.

Review by Nina Sankovitch READ ALL DAY January 6, 2010 ‘Stories in the Palm of Your Hand’

The short shorts in Tessa Smith McGovern’s collection London Road: Linked Stories really are made to fit within the palm of your hand — her delightful and fresh stories are available as apps for your phone or can be converted for your e-reader. For those without the handheld devices, never fear. The stories can also be downloaded onto your computer and read from the screen, or printed out (with color ink, if possible: the graphics are striking and integral to the stories!) for reading the old-fashioned way.

Whatever way you take in the words of McGovern, just make sure you do. Her stories link the lives of residents in a halfway house on the outskirts of London. Based largely on McGovern’s own experiences — her mother operated a Halfway House in Sussex — , her characters come alive through a style that is unique and lovely. McGovern uses words both easily and luxuriously and her ability to evoke place, emotion, and possibility all within the confines of a very short story is amazing. I felt as if I personally knew each character, from Janice to Nora to Isobel to Bitty, and even Len down at the pub, and I cared about them all.

That McGovern has time to write so beautifully while also launching her electronic publishing house of eChook is astounding. But as explained on the eChook website, once she created her own short story app for iPhone, iPad, and Androids, she realized she had become a publisher — and she ran with it!

McGovern makes a wonderful case for the short shorts app — literature for taking on the go — offering reasons like “ten minutes of reading provides a mini-vacation in your busy, sometimes frantic day, and leaves you feeling refreshed” — absolutely! — and “original stories and memoirs by contemporary writers expand your horizons?[gaining] insight into other people’s lives.” Again: absolutely!


The day Janice Bailey was released from prison was the hottest Friday on record in England. Even at eight thirty in the morning, heat waves rippled across yellow and brown fields and, as Janice walked away from the metallic clank of the closing door of Chorley Prison, her white pumps stuck to the black top and birds sat silently in the trees.

She paused, remembering what she had been told: ‘Turn left outside the gate and keep going for twenty minutes until you come to the train station.’ The prison was off the bus route, so if no-one met you, you had to walk to the station in Chorley and catch a train to – where? London, Janice supposed. She hadn’t made any plans. What was the point? She was a fifty seven year old convicted criminal with no family – her parents were both dead and she’d never had children – and no prospect of a job. Who would want to hire her? She’d tried to ignore her release day, creeping nearer, because, if she had a choice, she would rather stay in prison.

Janice swung the Tesco’s carrier bag over her shoulder and started walking. The bag contained everything she brought with her five years ago: three £20 notes, her building society passbook which now held £1,113.23 (interest at 2%), a soft denim purse complete with Shining Red lipstick and a regular tampon plus keys to a flat she no longer rented and a photograph of a man she no longer loved.

To read the rest of the story, buy the collection now:


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To download on Android, visit the Market on your Android phone.

To visit Tessa’s author website, please go here:


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