Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: TRAINS AND LOVERS: A NOVEL by Alexander McCall Smith

Trains and Lovers: A Novel
In the words of Alexander McCall Smith: "You feel the rocking of the train, you hear the sound of its wheels on the rails; you are in the world rather than suspended somewhere above it. And sometimes there are conversations to be had, which is what the overarching story in this collection is all about. It is a simple device: people brought together entertain one another with tales of what happened to them on trains. It takes place on a journey I frequently make myself and know well, the journey between Edinburgh and London. It is best read on a train, preferably that one.''
Have you ever ridden a train for a journey of several hours or more and had time to observe those around you and speculate on their lives? Perhaps you have actually engaged in conversation with a stranger or two, and in the process you have revealed as much about yourself as you have learned about your fellow travelers. Such is the premise for author Alexander McCall Smith's "Trains and Lovers", an appealingly astute observance of the many versions and variations of love. Being in love and being loved in return is not limited to gender or generation. On this train journey, there are four quite different people who are drawn together by the closeness of the railcar and the isolation it offers from the outside world. During the almost five-hour ride that draws a line on the map from Edinburgh to London, each person will tell a love story. Their thoughts are as intriguing and involving as the words they say out loud. David is an immaculate fortyish American. Kay is an imaginative fifty-something Australian. Hugh is an athletic-looking Englishman who believes love is a matter of luck. David is a young, dark-haired Scotsman whose compelling and unusual eyes are noted by women and men alike. After their brief time together, despite the intimacies they have revealed, they will go their separate ways--strangers once more. As the author gently reminds us through this well-crafted tale, it is sometimes easier to connect with someone we have just met, and will never meet again, than it is to bare our true emotions to our family and friends.

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Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and he was a law professor at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland. Visit him online at, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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