“The moon is all about love,” he said. “The moon is about how we love others. About how we just want the best for those we love. We want them to be happy. We want everything to work out for them. The moon wants that for us, you know. That’s what the moon is.”The recently released Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith is a novel about love. Like most of AMS’s novels, this one is best experienced with the heart.
The premise is that four people are sitting together on a train traveling from Edinburgh to London. Each one tells a story – actually I’m not sure whether the fourth person tells the story or just reflects to himself. At least three of the stories reference trains in some way. One story is about an art student who takes an internship at an auction house and falls in love with a woman who has a possessive father. A second story describes a Scotsman who moves to Australia and takes a job at a remote station. As part of his contract, he is required to have a wife. A third story describes what happens when a young man misses his train and meets a young woman who is waiting for her roommate who doesn’t show up. A fourth story describes the lifelong relationship between two boys who meet near their parents’ summer homes.
Part of me feels that AMS chickened out by not telling the story of gay lovers. Yet, considering his many fans, maybe it was a necessary step. Metaphorically, he pushes the envelope without bending it out of shape, alienating some of his readers.
For me, each of the stories in Trains and Lovers is a little world that I wanted to explore further. This day after finishing the book, a lazy Fourth of July, I spent some time musing about each storyline. Trains and Lovers is a small book, but it is thought provoking.