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Trains and Lovers

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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 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."


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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 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."

30 review for Trains and Lovers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I traveled a lot on trains during the 1950s. When I discovered this stand-alone book about trains by Alexander McCall Smith, I just had to read it. The book is well written. It is about four people traveling between Edinburgh to London. They tell each other stories about trains that have changed their lives. The four people were one woman and three men. The woman was from Australia, one man from Scotland, one from England and one from America. The book is the usual AMS story. It is a delightful I traveled a lot on trains during the 1950s. When I discovered this stand-alone book about trains by Alexander McCall Smith, I just had to read it. The book is well written. It is about four people traveling between Edinburgh to London. They tell each other stories about trains that have changed their lives. The four people were one woman and three men. The woman was from Australia, one man from Scotland, one from England and one from America. The book is the usual AMS story. It is a delightful meandering story with a moral base. I found it a charming relaxing story. I know that people either love AMS books or hate them. I happen to love them. I have been reading very long books recently so this short book was a great relief. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is five hours twenty minutes. Robert Ian Mackenzie does an excellent job narrating the books. Mackenzie is a British actor and audiobook narrator.

  2. 5 out of 5

    M

    I will of course be recommending this to fans of Alexander McCall Smith, for they would read anything he writes, and rightly so. But Trains and Lovers comes off as a string of narratives harvested from a notebook and tossed onto the train with three men and one woman to tell them. The characters' voices and tones are almost identical, so that by the end of the book I could not remember who told which personal reminiscence. McCall Smith is at his best not only when a character speaks, but when a I will of course be recommending this to fans of Alexander McCall Smith, for they would read anything he writes, and rightly so. But Trains and Lovers comes off as a string of narratives harvested from a notebook and tossed onto the train with three men and one woman to tell them. The characters' voices and tones are almost identical, so that by the end of the book I could not remember who told which personal reminiscence. McCall Smith is at his best not only when a character speaks, but when a nicely articulated plot keeps the reader interested in the charaters themselves. Unfortuntely, in Trains and Lovers, such a plot is missing; the only thing moving the book along is the train. Sigh.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    My first encounter with Alexander McCall Smith was The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. It didn't take long for me to get hooked on the adventures, or lack thereof, of Mma. Ramotwse, her assistant, the shoe-loving Mma Grace Makutsi, and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. I then turned to another McCall Smith series, this one featuring Isabel Dalhousie. When the clerk at Watermark Books suggested I might >Trains and Lovers, the newest McCall Smith book, I grabbed it up. Like it I did, My first encounter with Alexander McCall Smith was The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. It didn't take long for me to get hooked on the adventures, or lack thereof, of Mma. Ramotwse, her assistant, the shoe-loving Mma Grace Makutsi, and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. I then turned to another McCall Smith series, this one featuring Isabel Dalhousie. When the clerk at Watermark Books suggested I might >Trains and Lovers, the newest McCall Smith book, I grabbed it up. Like it I did, even though it once again features stories of people who don't do much in the way of action except ride the train together and tell their stories of love gained and lost. This book is just as gentle as the other McCall Smith books and I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. My favorite reading for fun goes along the lines of detective novels, not the gentle kind, but the Nordic, hard-boiled kind, the ones with all sorts of mayhem and intrigue. What comes through Trains and Lovers is an intelligence that also informs McCall Smith's other series. It is not academic intelligence so much as it is the intelligence of intuition, a way of knowing about and getting around in the world. McCall Smith's background in philosophy and bioethics may have something to do with the development of his characters and through them, the plot of his books. This book is a fast, pleasant read. Reading it won't teach you anything about changing the world, except maybe the truth in the last sentence, a thought of Kay as she leaves the train: "Loving others...is the good thing we do in our lives." Such a simple truth, yet so profound.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Battersby

    How I do with we could use half stars because this is a 4.5 rather than flat four. I am a massive fan of Alexander McCall Smith's work. One of the things I love about him is ability to jump from series to series and give to each a unique voice. The voice of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is different to 44 Scotland Street and so on. And so it is with Trains and Lovers. The voice is different, the feel is different and the flavour is different. I took this in to hospital with me when undergoing a How I do with we could use half stars because this is a 4.5 rather than flat four. I am a massive fan of Alexander McCall Smith's work. One of the things I love about him is ability to jump from series to series and give to each a unique voice. The voice of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency is different to 44 Scotland Street and so on. And so it is with Trains and Lovers. The voice is different, the feel is different and the flavour is different. I took this in to hospital with me when undergoing a gallbladder removal. It was the last thing in my hand as I left the ward and it was the first thing I asked for when I reentered it three hours later. I read it in one day and loved every moment. Four strangers meet on a train and start up a conversation. The topic turns to love and each offers their own experience of it, either to the group or within themselves. A beautiful work that celebrates true love, how it is obtained and how it is kept. Wonderful. Oh, and one aspect I really enjoyed was the story set in Western Australia. As a Perth girl who has spent time in the Wheat Belt, the East Kimberley and the Pilbara, I found the setting and circumstances offered to be spot on, a slice of reality of how it lives in our harsh West

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Trains and Lovers. What a lovely title and what a lovely book. For many, if not most, people trains have a romantic allure, of chance meetings and adventure. Alexander McCall Smith has used such a setting to gather four strangers together to reminisce about and ponder the vagaries of love in conjunction to other train rides or encounters with trains. As the wheels glide forward from Edinburgh to London, these four people will allow themselves to also flow into a rhythm of ease with one another, Trains and Lovers. What a lovely title and what a lovely book. For many, if not most, people trains have a romantic allure, of chance meetings and adventure. Alexander McCall Smith has used such a setting to gather four strangers together to reminisce about and ponder the vagaries of love in conjunction to other train rides or encounters with trains. As the wheels glide forward from Edinburgh to London, these four people will allow themselves to also flow into a rhythm of ease with one another, telling of important moments and people in their lives, lives that were in some way touched by love. A young Scotsman on his way to a job in London, a young Englishman returning to London, a middle-aged American man with a sentimental attachment to Scotland on his way back to the states, and a lone woman from Australia with Scottish roots. Each of these people experience a cathartic release in sharing their stories, and there is indeed a train connection in each. Although the author in his brief and marvelous introduction before the strangers appear on stage says that "love is nothing out of the ordinary," the love revealed in the strangers' stories exposes the insincerity of that statement. It is ordinary in that anyone can experience it, but its effect is anything but ordinary. Me thinks the author dost play with us a bit here. There is much wit and clever linking in and between the stories. One line, "so missing a train can have major consequences" has a place in two different stories in two different ways. Another favorite quote that sums up one of the stories is, "In the heart of each of us there can be many rooms, and somethimes there are." So, that by the end of this treasure of a book, we think back to the author's initial statement of love as being ordinary and realize that it is love that makes the ordinary the extraordinary. Alexander McCall Smith has given his readers a gift of love in the guise of a plain, simple account of four strangers on a train.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Title

    This is what I would call a lovely, lovely book. I only knew of the author by his lady detective series, which are such a delight, and his Isabel Dalhousie series, which I'm not crazy about. So I really didn't have any expectations for this book. I simply saw it listed in a catalog and decided I'd better see what he has to say here. It was my lucky day! His characters -- all 4 of them -- and nice people, a seeming rarity in books any more. There is no plot to speak of: 4 passengers on a train, This is what I would call a lovely, lovely book. I only knew of the author by his lady detective series, which are such a delight, and his Isabel Dalhousie series, which I'm not crazy about. So I really didn't have any expectations for this book. I simply saw it listed in a catalog and decided I'd better see what he has to say here. It was my lucky day! His characters -- all 4 of them -- and nice people, a seeming rarity in books any more. There is no plot to speak of: 4 passengers on a train, unknown to each other, and their conversations. Each one has a story; three stories are told and one remains in the passenger's thoughts. When the end of the trip comes, the story ends, but the feeling of the reader don't. There is lots to think about here, and I found parallels in my own life that I could relate to, and cogitate on. I also have a lingering unresolved question about David and Bruce and the author's movement of those two. I love any book that keeps me thinking, and this is one of them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trelawn

    Good but not great. I enjoyed the Australian section but never really got into the others' stories. Much prefer McCall Smith's other series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Audio book read by Robert Ian MacKenzie I love Alexander McCall Smith. I love the way he puts together an ensemble of characters and slowly reveals their everyday lives and the little (and big) dramas hidden in plain sight. In this novel not part of any series four strangers meet on a train bound for London from Edinburgh. As they get acquainted their stories come out. David, a middle-aged American businessman, sees two men saying good-bye at the station, and is reminded of the young man he Audio book read by Robert Ian MacKenzie I love Alexander McCall Smith. I love the way he puts together an ensemble of characters and slowly reveals their everyday lives and the little (and big) dramas hidden in plain sight. In this novel – not part of any series – four strangers meet on a train bound for London from Edinburgh. As they get acquainted their stories come out. David, a middle-aged American businessman, sees two men saying good-bye at the station, and is reminded of the young man he met in his own youth. A young Scot, Andrew, reveals how he captured the attention of a co-worker when he noticed a problem with a painting that’s been credited to an early-seventeenth century artist. Kay relates how her parents met, married and ran a train station in the Australian Outback. Hugh missed his stop one day on the train, and met a woman he let into his life. Each story offers some insight into the many ways that love finds us, enriches us, or disappoints us. For some of these characters the love is in the past, for others it shows promise of continuing into the future. The audio book is masterfully performed by Robert Ian MacKenzie. He has clear diction, a good pace and is a skilled voice artist, able to differentiate the many characters.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Alexander McCall Smith is known for gentle humour and a light touch, and he shows a great fondness for humanity, occasionally slipping over into sentimentality. One suspends judgement on that, however, because he takes you on a very pleasant journey. This book was definitely an antidote to the last book I reviewed, which takes a very dim view of humanity (Gone Girl).This book slides along on the well-oiled wheels of clarity of sentence and phrase, understatement, and introspection, as four train Alexander McCall Smith is known for gentle humour and a light touch, and he shows a great fondness for humanity, occasionally slipping over into sentimentality. One suspends judgement on that, however, because he takes you on a very pleasant journey. This book was definitely an antidote to the last book I reviewed, which takes a very dim view of humanity (Gone Girl).This book slides along on the well-oiled wheels of clarity of sentence and phrase, understatement, and introspection, as four train passengers converse and, to varying degrees, tell their stories. There are references to philosophy in there - the examined life and moral luck - for the reader to ponder on, but they are carried lightly. It is a celebration of love, but is not without its sadness as love is shown to expose our ability or failure to trust - one story with humour, one with poignancy. It won't appeal to everyone. All the characters are self-consciously just and well-meaning, although a little abrasiveness threatens in the character of Hugh. Do there really exist persons so civilised? Probably not; but it's so nice to hope. Part of the formula, and why it can work, is the 'strangers on a train' situation (not like Hitchcock's!). The characters tell their stories in the vacuum of the journey, in a moment of reflection away from the bustle. It's well worth taking a seat in their carriage.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Will Ansbacher

    Well, it seems that Alexander McCall Smith has redeemed himself. After The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom , three stories of such stupefying tedium that I would have willingly gnawed off my page-turning hand rather than read the whole thing, I was afraid to pick up anything by him again. However, this is not at all bad: four strangers on an Edinburgh to London train share their stories and memories of love and love affairs. One young man who met his through his first job; another through a chance Well, it seems that Alexander McCall Smith has redeemed himself. After The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom , three stories of such stupefying tedium that I would have willingly gnawed off my page-turning hand rather than read the whole thing, I was afraid to pick up anything by him again. However, this is not at all bad: four strangers on an Edinburgh to London train share their stories and memories of love and love affairs. One young man who met his through his first job; another through a chance encounter when he got off a train at the wrong stop; an Australian woman recounted the love in her parents’ lives; and an older man the memories of a boyhood love affair. They’re touching stories, and I can well imagine the polite, reserved characters telling them. You could read this during the journey itself, a pleasant way to pass the time if there was nobody to talk to. It’s not really 3-star but I’m no longer afraid to read more of AMS.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Correen

    McCall Smith seems to be writing books that explain his philosophical ideas more than his wit and storytelling. He concerns himself with the moral dilemmas in life -- usually not the major ones but rather those that happen in our day-to-day encounters with other persons. In this book he presents a construct he calls "moral luck" but he does not clearly integrate it into the stories. Trains and Lovers is a book of four stories combined through a train ride. While each of the four riders present a McCall Smith seems to be writing books that explain his philosophical ideas more than his wit and storytelling. He concerns himself with the moral dilemmas in life -- usually not the major ones but rather those that happen in our day-to-day encounters with other persons. In this book he presents a construct he calls "moral luck" but he does not clearly integrate it into the stories. Trains and Lovers is a book of four stories combined through a train ride. While each of the four riders present a story, each weighs what is important to tell and how their story will be received by the other three. The stories cover topics of love, home and family, personal striving, and their questions and doubts. The setting for the book is a moment in time in an isolated space allowing the author to place the individual stories anywhere in the world and with few time constraints. The book started slowly -- I had moments of thinking I did not want to continue reading. Gradually, however, my interest in the characters increased and I enjoyed the writing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I started this book while on a train myself and I definitely wish that I had carried on reading it on the train just to be absorbed into the experience further. The story follows 4 strangers on a train come together to share their experiences of love. I really loved this plot idea and the way that it was written with segments on the train and then sections which are focused on the specific memory of the person. This writing style kept the story following and continually interesting to read. I I started this book while on a train myself and I definitely wish that I had carried on reading it on the train just to be absorbed into the experience further. The story follows 4 strangers on a train come together to share their experiences of love. I really loved this plot idea and the way that it was written with segments on the train and then sections which are focused on the specific memory of the person. This writing style kept the story following and continually interesting to read. I also liked the contrasting opinions of the characters and how they perceive love but also from who they think of instantly when they think of love, with one person having their own experience and another thinking about their parents. I thought this was really interesting and made each character really unique. It was a really well written and descriptive novel and this made it a really enjoyable and fairly light read. Definitely one to be read on a train!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Penny McGill

    Another wonderful story by Alexander McCall Smith. He is always writing a new wrinkle into humanity each book and how he is able to do this just amazes me - his characters never seem to repeat. This book is a story of four people who are riding a train together and begin to share bits of their lives. I love that McCall Smith is able to share the back story of each person and then also add in their doubts and assumptions about the other three seated in the spots beside and across from them. He Another wonderful story by Alexander McCall Smith. He is always writing a new wrinkle into humanity each book and how he is able to do this just amazes me - his characters never seem to repeat. This book is a story of four people who are riding a train together and begin to share bits of their lives. I love that McCall Smith is able to share the back story of each person and then also add in their doubts and assumptions about the other three seated in the spots beside and across from them. He has such crazy insight into a person's worries and insecurities but he writes it all in a gentle and very funny way. It's as if each word is carefully weighted in the sentences he writes, nothing extra or frilly. I think that, with publishing a book like this, he must have characters and books just swimming around in his head all the time and has to write them down. The people he populates his series with - like Isabel and Precious - must be like constant companions for him and then something like this pops up (perhaps on a train journey or after hearing of one) and he has to put it all down just to clear his head for the next one. He doesn't include a pile of descriptive text in his paragraphs and yet I always feel like I am in the same place as his characters - every time! I enjoy that a book written by Alexander McCall Smith is like reading someone's journal with a little bit of extra detail about the setting thrown in, these people have things going on in their lives that are embarrassing or joyful, so the reader gets to feel a part of it. Like a movie, really. I understand that there are library patrons out there that are not fond of Alexander McCall Smith and have heard from some that one or another of his series isn't their favourite but this Trains and Lovers is a good place for a reader to start. It's a book club book because there are 4 perspectives to enjoy here so the chance of finding something to talk about his high. It's a pretty fun summer read as well. I know that I'll pick it up again, probably on a dreary February day, and be again so thankful that this strange lawyer and professor of medical ethics is somewhere out there taking a few minutes of his day to knock out another book to cheer my day.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Andrew, David, Hugh, Kay. Four people meet on a train and hold a conversation with one another. Some unseen force urges them to tell one another about the great loves in their lives. If I had to pick one word to summarize this book . . . Pudding. Overall sweet and smooth. But bland. Great for bedtime. Question: "So what is this love that comes with being married?" Answer: "Being fond of somebody... Being nice... Wanting them not to go away..." *makes confused face.* This is my first Alexander Andrew, David, Hugh, Kay. Four people meet on a train and hold a conversation with one another. Some unseen force urges them to tell one another about the great loves in their lives. If I had to pick one word to summarize this book . . . Pudding. Overall sweet and smooth. But bland. Great for bedtime. Question: "So what is this love that comes with being married?" Answer: "Being fond of somebody... Being nice... Wanting them not to go away..." *makes confused face.* This is my first Alexander McCall Smith book. Is this a typical type of exchange for his characters? Because if so, he either hires young children to write his dialogue, or he has been writing for so long, he forgets what emotions feel like. But we do have moments of brilliance. We see a boy's description of a girl... He was not sure whether he really liked her, but he thought he did. . . . "She's obsessed." "Obsessed with what?" The boy shrugged. "I haven't found out yet." Jeezie peets, girls ARE exactly like this. Honestly. And also there is a lover's tiff that made me giggle: "Well, I need emotional space to think about this. So please don't pressurise me." "Pressurise you? Now you're sounding like . . . the instruction manual for an inflatable mattress." Aww, just kiss and make up, kids. I just have one big quibble. If you give a character a chance to tell a story, they need to tell their OWN story. Kay, being the sole female storyteller in this book, has the chance to make things interesting. It would be nice to see a female character's perspective instead of being viewed by the man who fancies her. But nope, she ends up telling her father's story instead. Bad form, McCall Smith.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nitya Iyer

    One of my favorite parts of traveling has always been the people I meet along the way. Much to the amusement or chagrin of friends I've travelled with, I'm known to strike up conversations with passengers seated around me, particularly prone to over-sharing and delving deeply into as much of their own lives as they will allow. After all, as Smith points out in this book, who are your passengers but strangers who are likely to disappear in a few hours, never to be met again? In Trains and Lovers One of my favorite parts of traveling has always been the people I meet along the way. Much to the amusement or chagrin of friends I've travelled with, I'm known to strike up conversations with passengers seated around me, particularly prone to over-sharing and delving deeply into as much of their own lives as they will allow. After all, as Smith points out in this book, who are your passengers but strangers who are likely to disappear in a few hours, never to be met again? In Trains and Lovers Smith presents us with four particular people, each carrying a history (as all of us do) that allows them to connect in a seemingly random pattern that later proves to be an intricately woven fabric of the emotions that make us all human. And though, in truth, the common thread that runs through them is rather weak and a reach at times, each individual story is so intriguing, its easy to forgive the jarring jumps from character to character as the tales are propelled along by turn. If I'm to be utterly honest, I devoured the Precious Ramotswe stories at alarming speed by couldn't get through even the first chapter of the Isabelle Dalhousie series. This book is somewhere in between. The characters are sweet and familiar in their bumbling heartfelt ways, and the setting ensures that everything moves along fast enough that no one is stopping for tea and sandwiches in between.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Nebauer

    McCall Smith's weaves an implausible sharing of four love stories on a train journey from Edinburgh to London into a series of delightful vignettes. There is first love, unrequited love, parental love and love as trust. Delightful as the work as a whole is, the characters seem to tell their stories with very similar voices. It sounds rather like the author is a fifth person in the carriage reporting to us what he has heard. Kay, the West Australian woman in particular seems not to have her own McCall Smith's weaves an implausible sharing of four love stories on a train journey from Edinburgh to London into a series of delightful vignettes. There is first love, unrequited love, parental love and love as trust. Delightful as the work as a whole is, the characters seem to tell their stories with very similar voices. It sounds rather like the author is a fifth person in the carriage reporting to us what he has heard. Kay, the West Australian woman in particular seems not to have her own voice, which disappoints coming from a writer with a very strong and distinctively-voice female character in Mma Ramotswe. To be fair though, she is telling her parents' story. Not his greatest novel by any means, that it's still delightful shows his quality as a writer. It ends happily (the train arrives in London safely)and, despite a mild didactic aftertaste when the pages close, the four stories are nevertheless worth hearing. Three stars is slightly too few, four perhaps slightly too many.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    On a train from Edinburgh to London, 4 complete strangers begin to talk and share. Their conversations revolve around love. Andrew talks about his first love while David thinks about his unrequited love. Hugh shares his experience with trust issues with his sweetheart. Kay, the only woman shares her reason for being on the train and that is her love for her parents. At the end of the ride at King's Cross station all the questions are answered and the final outcomes revealed. My best quote comes On a train from Edinburgh to London, 4 complete strangers begin to talk and share. Their conversations revolve around love. Andrew talks about his first love while David thinks about his unrequited love. Hugh shares his experience with trust issues with his sweetheart. Kay, the only woman shares her reason for being on the train and that is her love for her parents. At the end of the ride at King's Cross station all the questions are answered and the final outcomes revealed. My best quote comes from Kay, "Loving others, she thought, is the good thing we do in our lives." Quick read but inspirational and chocked full of emotions===most especially love. This is a stand alone novel for Alexander McCall Smith and it is a real joy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Although the page count won't make it seem novella length, the large print and small pages make this book a breeze, perfect for the last book of 2013! This is a sweet (too sentimental, possibly?) story of four strangers on a train, traveling from Edinburgh to London, and telling the stories of their lives to each other. One man keeps his story to himself, but the reader gets to read it. It's all about strangers, friends, and love. And maybe at the end of a rough year, it was a nice sendoff.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    this was a sweet dear book. it was not perfect or tied up with bows it had quiet emotion. some happy parts some sad. it is 4 stories told by 4 strangers. each story could have been its own novella. I was left wondering where they all went when they dismbarked the train.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    In a word, CHARMING. A wonderful, cosy little story for a chilly afternoon. Afghan and cup of tea optional.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Piepie

    This was a lovely little book. I think I would have preferred a physical copy - that way it would be easier for me to flip back and forth and refresh on the characters and their stories. I really enjoyed McCall Smith's way with words. I've read two of his books now and I will probably read more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrea P.

    This review and others can be found on Cozy Up With A Good Read So this is my first Alexander McCall Smith book, and I've heard a lot of great things about his other books but they are all series and I wasn't ready to get into a new one. Well after reading this book I think I may need to check out his other books (even though they are series) because his writing is so absorbing and real that you just have to fall in love with the story. Honestly, with this book the cover was the first thing that This review and others can be found on Cozy Up With A Good Read So this is my first Alexander McCall Smith book, and I've heard a lot of great things about his other books but they are all series and I wasn't ready to get into a new one. Well after reading this book I think I may need to check out his other books (even though they are series) because his writing is so absorbing and real that you just have to fall in love with the story. Honestly, with this book the cover was the first thing that caught my attention, and it's not really what I thought it would be about, and yet at the same time it kind og was. This book tells the tale of four people who are sitting together on a train and as time goes on, each of them start sharing their stories of love and romance. This book has so many beautiful quotes that it's hard to pick one to share... but I knew after reading the first chapter of this book that I would be in love by the end. Alexander McCall Smith describes what love is to different people in that first chapter, and from there begins a journey of four different people and their experiences with love. Each of the stories that are told are about a chance encounter with a person, and the stories all revolve around trains in one way or another. I was really interested in how McCall Smith wrote this book, one person begins their story and something about that story sets another person off into their tale, but eventually we come back to how each of these stories end... some are happy and some are not, but they all learn something new about what love is to each of them. By the end of this book many readers will look over what they think about love and how they see relationships. And the one thing that really got me with this is don't let yourself be scared to say something because in the end it will eat you up, and you will always wonder what could have been. This is a short book (and it's actually smaller in size than I expected) and this is hard to put down because you love reading about each of these love stories and how they came about. And you will want to keep going to find out how everything ends for each of the characters. This book is so real, I can see myself having a random conversation with a person on a long train ride and learning so much about them. Alexander McCall Smith has warmed my heart with this adorable book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a nice little stand alone book. It doesn't belong in any of McCall Smith's other wonderful series unless you count the stand alones as a series of stand alones. Sorry! The story is set on a train journey from Scotland to London and the four travellers, one woman and three men who have never met before, each have a story to relate about love. I enjoyed this book very much, getting to know each character. These stand alone books are quite different from others, there is less speculating on This is a nice little stand alone book. It doesn't belong in any of McCall Smith's other wonderful series unless you count the stand alones as a series of stand alones. Sorry! The story is set on a train journey from Scotland to London and the four travellers, one woman and three men who have never met before, each have a story to relate about love. I enjoyed this book very much, getting to know each character. These stand alone books are quite different from others, there is less speculating on life, the going off at a tangent, that comes across in other books so there comes a point when you forget that this is a McCall Smith book as you are drawn into the stories of the passengers. However, it is an easy read - I read it it in two/three days but I like that. I found the book in the library. I thought I'd read everything they had of his but this is a newish one and I grabbed it because his books are so popular that if you don't borrow them when you see them it could be months before they are there again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roseamber Sumner

    This is an interesting genre, though that might not be quite the right word: a way of looking into various people's thoughts on a journey, on the same subject. In this case the subject is love, fascinating to all readers. Alexander McCall-Smith is on my list of trusted writers. I can't go wrong picking up one of his, though I still suspect him of keeping his manuscripts in the closet pre-written, he is so prolific! This story is full of hints and beginnings, provocative details that leave you This is an interesting genre, though that might not be quite the right word: a way of looking into various people's thoughts on a journey, on the same subject. In this case the subject is love, fascinating to all readers. Alexander McCall-Smith is on my list of trusted writers. I can't go wrong picking up one of his, though I still suspect him of keeping his manuscripts in the closet pre-written, he is so prolific! This story is full of hints and beginnings, provocative details that leave you wanting more, just as, perhaps the people felt about each other as they disembarked the train having shared intimacy with strangers through conversation. Balancing that is the relief that they are safe from needing to share more, this was a chance encounter with the train trip defining the parameters. Short and sweet, with just the right amount of metaphor in the images glimpsed outside the train windows.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    I love the No.1 Ladies Detective Series. Mma Ramotswe is a delight and Botswana comes alive under McCall Smith's pen. I have not been as fond of his other series. This one is no exception. They are really short stories cut and pasted together on the pretense of four peole sharing a train ride. I think Smith's forte is creating a place and I would loved if he had developed the Australian train stop story more. The bit he did share was wonderful and I would have enjoyed that story more. The other I love the No.1 Ladies Detective Series. Mma Ramotswe is a delight and Botswana comes alive under McCall Smith's pen. I have not been as fond of his other series. This one is no exception. They are really short stories cut and pasted together on the pretense of four peole sharing a train ride. I think Smith's forte is creating a place and I would loved if he had developed the Australian train stop story more. The bit he did share was wonderful and I would have enjoyed that story more. The other stories weren't as strong to me. The Hermione story was really a cliche and you could see the end from a mile off. I would have liked Jenny's story to have been less predictable. It had promise but was never fully developed/ The same with David's. I guess that pretty much sums it up. The stories were just too apparent. There was nothing unexpected. I just don't think this played to the author's strengths. I read it in two days and I think it would be a good beach read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Trains and Lovers was a sweet summer read, light and sentimental, and likable. It reminded me of The Canterbury Tales, each story standing on its own, linked only by the shared journey of the tellers. As always, Smith develops his characters gently, their foibles even more than their strengths drawn with a loving pen. One of the things I love most about Alexander McCall Smith's books is how firmly they are set in a place. I can't imagine Bertie or Matthew or Angus living anyplace other than Trains and Lovers was a sweet summer read, light and sentimental, and likable. It reminded me of The Canterbury Tales, each story standing on its own, linked only by the shared journey of the tellers. As always, Smith develops his characters gently, their foibles even more than their strengths drawn with a loving pen. One of the things I love most about Alexander McCall Smith's books is how firmly they are set in a place. I can't imagine Bertie or Matthew or Angus living anyplace other than Edinburgh, or Mma Ramostwe living outside Botswana. The setting is almost a character in his novels. Here, on the train, with the story tellers from Scotland, America, and England, I missed that. Only the story set in Australia gave me a feel for the place, and the role it played in the story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I have never read McCall Smith before and this probably was not the best one to start with. Strangers on a train, only these strangers are not planning a murder, but recounting their different experiences with love. Okay so......first you have to believe that on a train, from Edinburgh to London, a group of four strangers, three men one woman, manage to get close enough to the others that they feel comfortable exchanging these types of confidences. Okay, that would not be me but if one can keep I have never read McCall Smith before and this probably was not the best one to start with. Strangers on a train, only these strangers are not planning a murder, but recounting their different experiences with love. Okay so......first you have to believe that on a train, from Edinburgh to London, a group of four strangers, three men one woman, manage to get close enough to the others that they feel comfortable exchanging these types of confidences. Okay, that would not be me but if one can keep their pessimistic nature in check, they will be treated to a rather comforting, if bland discourse.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    A gathering of four train riders provides excuse for four short stories, basically, that touch on love and relationships. Pretty well told, but not especially gripping. But nice. And they do incorporate various locales and couplings. I thought at least three of the stories relatively plausible, a bit of a stretch on one. A somewhat "peaceful," easy going read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Ness

    I normally like Alexander Mcall Smith's writing but this book felt lazy, rushed, unsophisticated and a bit pointless. I read it in a couple of hours and it I forgot about it as soon as I closed the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    An enchanting book! The tales are told by the different riders, strangers on a four hour train ride. The tales are of past and present relationships. While this is a popular award winning author, this is the first book I've read of his. How delightful!

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