A Night on the Orient Express
I won this through twitter a couple of weeks ago. I probably would never have picked this up myself and would likely have declined if a friend or colleague had offered to lend it to me. It just seemed so far removed from my usual tastes in literature. And that’s just the thing: I had trouble getting into and enjoying my usual reads. I’ve been terribly exhausted when I returned from work and it was the height of summer and unbearably hot, and I expected some light romance reading to do me some good. For me, the title reference to the Orient Express hinted at slight notion of mystery (silly literature-spoilt me!)
So, I went into this with an open heart and was intrigued that the narration set off with a spotlight on 84 year-old Adele Russell. Continuing with the introduction of characters who would embark on the journey from the Orient Express from Paris to Venice, I was quickly ensnared in their back-stories, precisely in how they came to be aboard the train. The novel follows the stories of four groups of people and the developments in their relationships during their short stay on the Orient Express, interspersed with snippets and anecdotes of Adele’s past love affair with art collector/dealer Jack Molloy.
While reading one of the earlier chapters I suspected that this wasn’t the cheery romance novel I had expected, as some of the characters back-stories saddened me a lot. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill love story – but it is far from being a depressing sob-story either. So all is good.
The descriptions of the Orient Express’ interieur, the different compartments and dining wagons, are evocatively lustrous. The characters are each and everyone interesting and relatable. The mysterious mission one of the passengers is to undertake isn’t all that mysterious and I was far more interested in what might be revealed about the relationship of Stephanie and Simon, in particular about Simon’s ex-wife. The dénouement and conclusions are a bit convenient, but necessary to achieve the intended goal. After all, it’s a feel-good book, not a mystery thriller! :)
The rating poses a bit of a problem for me. I liked it in a “not my usual but nice” kind of way. I was neither blown away nor greatly impressed but I enjoyed the ride. Furthermore, I’m not experienced in this genre, so I have no way of comparing A Night on the Orient Express to similar books. Four stars are usually reserved for books that capture my interest well enough and entice me to read on (if it’s a series) or to consider other works by the same author. Considering that I’m still a SFF girl at heart despite my recent trouble wit the genre, it’s not very likely I’ll read more like A Night on the Orient Express, but it might deserve more than a meagre three stars.