Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
(Pantheon Books, 2012, 239 pages)
I checked out the book because the first few lines grabbed my attention; and I always love train travel. Also, the author’s name sounded familiar so I Googled him. Alexander McCall Smith is a prolific English writer of several series of novels and children books. He was a former medical law professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Trains and Lovers is set on a train running from Edinburgh to London. Four strangers meet on the train and strike up conversations. Over the course of the trip, they share how love has influenced and affected their lives. Kay, an Australian, is in her 50’s and is visiting her father’s birthplace. Hers is a heart-touching story of her parents’ meeting, marriage and life in Australia, and her love for her parents. Hugh and Andrew are English and in their 20s. They each have a girlfriend and are hitting a few bumps in searching for The One. David, in his 40s, a professor from Buffalo N.Y. conferencing in Scotland, is on his way to London to catch a flight back to U.S. He has not been able to express his feelings to his one true love. David’s story is sad but beautiful. Smith uses a third person narrator to tell the stories. I adapted to it quickly and enjoyed it. I was surprised at how the narrations intertwined effortlessly with the tales of the four strangers’ parents and friends. The stories are sentimental and intriguing with just a touch of mystery. A fun, romantic read.