In the heroic days of rail travel, you could dine on kippers and champagne aboard the Brighton Belle, smoke a postprandial cigar as the Golden Arrow approached Paris or be shaved by the Flying Scotsman's onboard barber. Everyone from schoolboys to socialites knew of these glamorous trains.
Andrew Martin recreates famous train journeys by travelling aboard their nearest modern-day equivalents, describing the disappearance of the extravagance and luxury.
"His wonderfully well-informed, anecdotal prose punches more than just tickets." (Times)
"A bittersweet journey of contrasts between romance and reality." (Saga)
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A good book marred by irritations in the narration
The evocation of the luxury trains of the past and the interesting and informative descriptions of some modern services - especially the sleeper trains - which I have always wanted to travel on but never have. The author has made me realise that I'm probably not missing out on as much luxury as I'd imagined.
Sadly it was the shock and puzzlement at hearing the narrator's pronunciation of Gresley as 'Greesley'.
The letters ECML serve as an abbreviation for East Coast Main Line in print; however in an audio book their constant repetition saves no time and is an irritation. Even worse is the ponderous spelling out of WCML, which actually takes longer to say than 'West Coast Main Line' and one may wonder why this didn't occur to the narrator. But most annoying of all was Mr Griffin's insistence on pronouncing Sir Nigel Gresley's name as 'Greesley'!
I did, I winced with pain every time I heard Gresley pronounced as 'Greesley'. This is repeated throughout the chapter on the Flying Scotsman and spoils it.
- Trevor Mitchell