The book just arrived at What Cathy Read Next is Train Man by Andrew Mulligan, the service from Chatto & Windus via Random Things Tours. This service is comprised of 320 pages. After leaving What Cathy Read Next, this book will call at Cosy Books, Rachel Read It and NB Magazine where this blog tour terminates.
About the Book
Michael is a broken man. He’s waiting for the 09.46 to Gloucester, so as to reach Crewe for 11.22: the platforms are long at Crewe, and he can walk easily into the path of a high-speed train to London.
He’s planned it all: a net of tangerines (for when the refreshments trolley is cancelled), and a juice carton, full of neat whisky. To make identification swift, he has taped his last credit card to the inside of his shoe.
What Michael hasn’t factored in is a twelve-minute delay, which risks him missing his connection, and making new ones.
He longs to silence the voices in his own head: ex-girlfriends, colleagues, and the memories from his schooldays, decades old. They all torment him. What Michael needs is somebody to listen.
A last, lonely journey becomes a lesson in the power of human connection, proving that no matter how bad things seem, it’s never too late to get back on track. Journeys intersect. People find hope when and where they least expect it. A missed connection needn’t be a disaster: it could just save your life.
Format: Hardcover (320 pp.) Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Published: 4th July 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Train Man on Goodreads
Many of us have probably had the experience of travelling by train and idly wondering about our fellow passengers: where are they going, what’s the purpose of their journey? We may also have had the experience of being drawn into polite, inconsequential conversations with fellow travellers or of watching passengers struggle with luggage, unpack and repack belongings, and so on. Michael’s journey, and those of the other characters in the book, is punctuated by just such encounters.
In Michael’s case they prompt him to construct elaborate and often farfetched stories about the people he meets; perhaps they might become friends or be present at momentous moments in each other’s lives. In fact, Michael’s thoughts often involve him creating fictional versions of his own life in which he is a much more successful, better version of himself. In reality he’s something of a loner who tends to be overly intolerant of petty bureaucracy and breaches of rules by others when his own life, arguably, is littered with more significant failings. This might make him a slightly irritating or unsympathetic character was it not for what the reader gradually learns about his traumatic past.
The sudden switches between Michael’s journey, his memories and the stories of the other characters do require a degree of alertness on the part of the reader. If you like, the same alertness required to control the trains arriving and departing at a busy railway junction.
Despite Michael’s careful planning of his intended journey, in the end it’s a decision taken on impulse that changes everything for him, and for the reader as well. What initially seemed a quite dark story takes on an altogether different hue.
Train Man is a thought-provoking story about chance encounters, missed opportunities, the kindness of strangers and why, sometimes, living in the moment is enough.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Chatto & Windus, and NetGalley.
In three words: Emotional, acutely-observed, thought-provoking
Try something similar…Drift, Stumble, Fall by M. Jonathan Lee (read my review here)
About the Author
Andrew Mulligan was born in 1962 and brought up in London. He worked as a theatre director for ten years before travels in Asia prompted him to retrain as a teacher. Having taught in India, Brazil, Vietnam and the Philippines he returned to the UK and now writes full time. He is best known as a children’s author; his novel Trash (2010) has been published in thirty-two languages. He also writes radio plays and film scripts. Train Man is his first adult novel: ‘What was the starting point? I’m afraid it was when a colleague did the unthinkable, and all I could think about was what might have saved him.’
Connect with Andrew