This was a bookclub read, introduced by our leader as ‘a light, fun read, to counteract the ones we haven’t enjoyed recently.’
It lived up to its summary, and I enjoyed it. Whether it helped that I went to Venice on the train (the regular night train, not the Orient Express) last November, I don’t know, but if you haven’t been to Venice, I recommend you go. It’s magic.
The book combined a set of people who would be taking the train for various reasons, setting up their stories, and exposing the key turning points for each of them on that fateful night when they should have been asleep in the Wagon-lits, with Switzerland passing by in the darkness. Well, for some of them it did; for others – let’s say they were beset by their private demons. Although for most of them, I think the night was fairly uneventful, and all the action took place before they went, or in Venice itself, begging the question of whether a Night on the Orient Express was the right title. But hey, it got me to read it, so why not?
The situations were somewhat clichéd, especially the family of four, and the two who had won the lonely hearts competition that their friends had entered them for. But the events were nicely written, save for the back story of the older couple (photographer and film star), which for some unknown reason the publishers had allowed to be written in italic. Three chapters, each at least twenty pages, written in italic. Don’t they know that this is a cardinal sin? Lengthy passages of italic are to be avoided (I’m reading from my Self-Editing book again) as they are almost impossible to read. In fact I tried three paragraphs of the first one, found it immensely painful on the eyes, and skipped all the rest of the italic chapters. I don’t really think it made any difference to the story, although I may have missed the agonies of the mis-spent youths of the would-have-been-much-earlier lovers.
But it was an enjoyable read, light and fluffy, and excellent for a train journey (probably not on the Orient Express) or the beach. A Goodreads 3 stars (I liked it).