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Literary Friday: Trains and Lovers

Friday, December 6, 2013

This week I read Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith.  I picked it up at the library on a whim because I have a friend who loves one of his series. Can you believe this is the first book of Smith's I've ever read?

Trains and Lovers depicts a conversation between four strangers on a train from Edinburgh to London.  Three of them share life-altering stories all involving trains, and the fourth one, David, remembers a crush he had on a friend during his youth, his memories prompted by seeing two young men saying farewell on a train platform.  

Kay shares the story of her parents.  Kay's father left Scotland shortly after WWII to work in Australia. He worked for the railroad in the Outback and met his pen friend (Kay's mother) one weekend in Sidney.  After a whirlwind courtship they married and lived on a railroad siding in the wilds of the Outback.

Andrew, a young Scot and art history major, explains how discovering an anachronistic steam train in an 18th century painting saved his auction house embarrassment and possible liability.  His discovery also led to a romance with a fellow intern.

Hugh, a thirty-something Englishman, tells about how he missed his station and met a woman on the platform at the next station.  They eventually become lovers, and Hugh expresses concerns over her murky past.  All the characters discuss their philosophies on trust while discussing Hugh's situation.  

The book's plot is very conversational in that some topics are dropped only to be picked up again.  This circular plot technique kept me reading because just as each character is getting to a good part in his or her story, another character interrupts with either a question or comment causing them to get off topic.  I think Smith is very clever in revealing the traveler's stories, especially David's as his story is told strictly through his memories.

What I love about each story (with the exception of David's) is that the characters take risks in order to begin relationships with their lovers.  I do think the book's theme of how risk and trust are necessary components of love will resonate with most readers, and the stories are interesting.  So the next time you're traveling, maybe you should leave-off the earbuds and talk to your fellow travelers. Their stories might be more interesting than you think!  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading vignettes/slice of life prose.  

What have you been reading?  Please share!

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. This sounds like it would be a good read ... I love trains, and I love stories set in Britain.

  2. Another delightful sounding suggestion!

  3. That sounds really good! I haven't been reading much lately, as much as I want to! I tend to fall asleep after the kids go to bed. :(

  4. I'm not familiar with this author. Will put it in my reading list. xo Laura

  5. Oh, he's such a fun author! I have "The Unbrearable Lightness of Scones" on my shelf...hrmm...maybe I should pull that one down to read next? Thanks for sharing, and hosting!

  6. I've not read any works of this author, but will pick this up. I think this might make a great Christmas gift for one of my friends. I'll place an order today! ;-)

  7. We love this author and I checked that book out last week for my hubby to read. I think he's read everything by this author. Nice to see your review! Sweet hugs!

  8. I'm not familiar with this book, but it sounds like something I'd like! Nice review.

  9. You've never read an Alexander McCall Smith book before - get thee to a bookstore/library and start the Number 1 Lady's Detective Agency series. It is such a lovely, heartwarming series set in Botswana. I loved them.

    The one you read sounds like fun too. I've never heard of it.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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