Trains and Lovers: Book summary and reviews of Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith

Trains and Lovers

By Alexander McCall Smith

Trains and Lovers
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2013,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

The rocking motion of the train as it speeds along, the sound of its wheels on the rails ... There's something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation, which is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers.
 
As they journey by rail from Edinburgh to London, the four travelers pass the time by sharing tales of trains that have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a female coworker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an eighteenth-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American patron of the arts sees two young men saying goodbye in a train station and recalls his own youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner - and into his life.
 
Here is Alexander McCall Smith at his most enchanting, exploring the nature of love - and trains - in a collection of romantic, intertwined stories.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A warmhearted, understated serving of comfort food." - Kirkus

"Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden - the hallmarks of McCall Smith's storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes. That's too bad, because the other story lines are less compelling than the evocative Australian scenes, which merit a full book of their own." - Library Journal

"The best thing McCall Smith has written so far … he is a virtuoso storyteller whose tales from the human heart remain very definitely on track." - The Scotsman

"McCall Smith's deceivingly simple prose style can be both disarming and deeply affecting ... That four strangers should meet and tell such compelling stories is highly unlikely, but such is McCall Smith's ability to draw us into his kindly world, disbelief is more than willingly suspended." - Sydney Morning Herald

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Cloggie Downunder
Charming, humorous and insightful
Trains and Lovers is a stand-alone novel by popular Scottish author, Alexander McCall Smith. This novel takes the reader on a train journey where any boredom is dispelled by the stories that four strangers in a railway carriage relate, stories that involve trains (both real and of the art variety) and lovers (variously realised, possibly dangerous and unrequited). McCall Smith gives us four very different characters and chooses a novel way of telling four discrete tales. As always, McCall Smith offers up gentle philosophy as he touches on subjects as diverse as modern-day connectedness and loneliness; identity theft; issues of trust and how powerful and persistent the seeds of doubt, once sown, can be; the comparison of communication today with the bygone era (emails and texts versus telegrams and pen friends); and the concept of moral luck. McCall Smith’s prose is charming and evocative: “…wonderful, exotic languages including one that had clicks and whistles in it…It’s called !Kung. And it has an exclamation mark in front of it. Imagine talking !English or !French with an exclamation mark. It was lovely to listen to – rather like the sound of the wind in the reeds, or a pair of exotic birds talking to one another on the branch of a tree.” And “There are many ways of falling off the high moral ground you’ve carefully built up for yourself. Moral ground is like that – slippery at the edges.” Charming, humorous and insightful.

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Author Information

Alexander McCall Smith Author Biography

Alexander McCall Smith began the now highly successful 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series in 1996, after being inspired by the sight of a 'traditionally built' Botswanan lady chasing down a chicken for a meal. The first book in the series - 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' was published in the UK in 1998 but didn't arrive in the USA until 2001.

Series Order
1. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
2. Tears of The Giraffe
3. Morality For Beautiful Girls
4. The Kalahari Typing School For Men
5. The Full Cupboard of Life
6. In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
7. Blue Shoes and Happiness
8. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
9. The Miracle at Speedy Motors
10. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
11. The Double Comfort Safari Club
12. The Saturday...

... Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Alexander McCall Smith's Website

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