On The Slow Train Again by Michael Williams
|On The Slow Train Again by Michael Williams|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: In a wonderful follow-up to his excellent On The Slow Train Michael Williams chooses a dozen more of today's pleasantest train journeys to tell us about. A relaxing, leisurely, deeply interesting read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: April 2011|
|Publisher: Preface Publishing|
A few years ago Michael Williams, the railway expert who's written for numerous newspapers and magazines on the subject, released a book called On The Slow Train about some of Britain's best railway trips. With far too many journeys to fit into one volume, he's given us a dozen more in this sequel.
Perhaps because of the beautifully old-fashioned cover I've heard a couple of people refer to it as a book about the railways in the past. While I can see what they mean, I can't help thinking they're missing the point. Yes, there's great detail on the history of the railways in each of these journeys, but the main thing is that they're journeys for today! It's a sign that the much-maligned railway network operates really rather well a lot of the time, and that it's possible to find so many wonderful places via the train. Draculaland, as Williams refers to Whitby, Carnforth station – forever in the hearts of Brief Encounter fans and the magnificent Orient Express (on a rare journey within the UK) all feature as they are today, rather than through sepia-tinted glasses, and if the effect of reading all twelve chapters isn't to immediately make you want to leap on the railway yourself then I'll be surprised! The author weaves the strands of past times, and how the railways have changed, in with the details of the present day places wonderfully well.
Even if you're completely convinced that nothing could tempt you away from the comforts of your car into a train carriage you shouldn't miss this one – Williams' has a languid, charming, almost hypnotic style of writing which is well worth reading for the sheer pleasure of his language. Interestingly I find him almost impossible to get through at speed – while I can race through most books his prose draws me in and forces me to, rather appropriately, slow down and drink in every word. My particular favourite parts are when he's talking about my home country of Wales or the West Country where I went to university, but the journeys are picked so well that there's bound to be somewhere close to your heart featured, be it London, Lancashire or Lymington.
Williams says at the end that the book will bring to a close his many thousands of miles of travel on the railways for the purpose of researching this volume and its predecessor, but I hope that he reconsiders his decision – I'd love to be On The Slow Train Once More in a few years time!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: Nearly 30 years after first being published, The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain by Paul Theroux is still a classic when it comes to British travel.
You can read more book reviews or buy On The Slow Train Again by Michael Williams at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy On The Slow Train Again by Michael Williams at Amazon.com.
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