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Trains and Lovers: A Novel - Alexander McCall Smith A lovely summer read about being in love. Romantic, intelligent, and just disturbing enough to maintain the interest of those bored by anything too plainly or predictably sentimental. It commences with a train ride from Edinburgh to London, and it is

the story of four people, all strangers to one another, who met on that train, and of how love touched their lives in very different ways. Love is nothing out of the ordinary, even if we think it is; even if we idealise it, celebrate it in poetry, sentimentalise it in coy valentines. Love happens to just about everyone; it is like measles or the diseases of childhood; it is as predictable as the losing of milk teeth, or the breaking of a boy's voice. It may visit us at any time, in our youth but also when we are much older and believe we are beyond its reach; but we are not.

It has been described as a toothache, a madness, a divine intoxication, metaphors that reflect the disturbing effect it has on our lives. It may bring surprise, joy, despair and occasionally perfect happiness. But for each person who is made happy by love, there will be many for whom it turns out to be cause for regret . . . The heart has more than its fair share of ghosts, and these ghosts may be love, in any of its many forms. p. 3-4

It's a quick read but the story lingers, the sensation, as you'd expect, being much like reclining into the gentle rhythm of a cross-country train ride, in my case accompanied by headphones and song. I don't listen to music while reading, but immediately upon finishing this I wanted to hear the following -- Diana Krall's take on Joni Mitchell's A Case of You, which perhaps tells you more about the kind of book this is than anything else I can say.