The stories we tell on trains – “Trains and Lovers” by Alexander McCall Smith

November 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

Trains and Lovers” by Alexander McCall Smith, Published in 2013. 

This book is beautiful.  It is the kind of book you end with a sigh and a happy heart.

It is a simple story.  Four strangers, riding the train from Edinburgh to London.   They are sitting two on each side of the coach, facing each other.  And somehow a story starts.  The simple “why are you going London?” turns into a story about a possible career in both art and love.  Then everyone has a story, some outwardly expressed and some revisited internally.  But all of the stories are about love and how it has brought them to this particular train, this particular path.

“Trains are everyday, prosaic things, but they can be involved in, be the agents of, so much else, including that part of our human life that for so many far outweighs any other—our need for love—to give it and to receive it in that familiar battle that all of us fight with loneliness.”

Trains can make us wistful. They take us away from something. They take us  towards something else.  They move on a set path that does not change.  You can board trains in snow or rain or beautiful sunshine.  Your lover can wave to you from the platform.  You can see the people you love slowly disappear as the train pulls away.  Trains rock back and forth, in a consoling manner as you watch the landscape change.   Trains make us wistful for good reason. They are not unlike love really.

Smith is a brilliant writer. He weaves the story of the train not just into the actual setting of the characters telling their stories but the trains play a part in each story as well.  The stories are not scintillating or shocking or laced with suspenseful moments. They are sweet, charming stories. They are the stories of everyday lives that could be told on a train to a stranger, who can then nod and add their own story.  Smith has the gentle touch of an old storyteller who knows what is important in life.  And his wisdom makes his writing beautiful  – “We live and breathe love. Loving someone is the good thing we do in our lives.”

English: Train leaving Waverley Station (Edinb...

English: Train leaving Waverley Station (Edinburgh). Nederlands: Vertrekkende trein uit Waverley Station (Edinburgh). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Entry filed under: November 2013 reads. Tags: , , , , , .

Meeting Rowling – “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) All kinds of spooky tales – “Sisterland,” “This House is Haunted,” “Doctor Sleep”

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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