Rated 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.