Trains and Lovers

by Alexander McCall Smith

The lovely setting of a train journey between Edinburgh and London lends itself to the tales we hear as we eavesdrop on four travellers who share a compartment in Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith. These travellers are thrown together by way of train tickets and have no other connection to each other, yet as a way to pass the time, they each share their personal stories of love as the train rumbles along the tracks. 

McCall Smith introduces us to the journey we are about to take with his own thoughts on love and the human connection. He reminds us that the journey we take is not only about the destination, but also about the people we encounter along the way, and are often what we remember about a trip or an event, rather than the experience itself. 

Kay recounts her parents love nurtured in the Australian outback; Andrew’s first love chanced to emerge in the ins and outs of the art world, David thinks fondly of his unrequited young love, and Hugh recalls a chance encounter on a train platform leading to love.

In each of the tales tellings, we learn a bit about the individual character through their personal thoughts and reactions to the others’ stories. Through this insight we discover each passenger’s doubts and feelings which influence their decisions about what to share. Because of this, we learn a bit more about the human condition with regards to love, family, and personal struggle in a timeless way that is full of emotion. 

This charming book is a stand-alone McCall Smith that is sure to warm your heart with its delightful stories that roll along to the rhythm of the train ride. The storytellers draw you into their lives for the short time we are all together, yet they linger for a time after the last page is read.

Readers of McCall Smith whose other books include The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street, and the Isabel Dalhousie series, to name a few, will want to grab a cup of tea, their favourite blanket and settle down for a pleasant journey.