I’m pleased to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the thought provoking Train Man by Andrew Mulligan. Thank you to Anne Cater for the invitation and to Chatto & Windus for my copy of this book.
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.
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.’
I have a confession to make. At the beginning of this book, when I was only a few chapters in, I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish it. There was no doubt, even from the outset, that it was beautifully written, but it was so very bleak I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to cope with it. As someone who has her own mental health demons, I found it quite triggering and found some of Michael’s inner dialogue difficult to take at times. But then, as the story began to unfold and to move in directions I wasn’t expecting, I settled into it and ended up really enjoying this rollercoaster of a journey that ended in a destination I never thought it would when I started it.
At the beginning of Train Man Michael is a broken man with only one purpose in mind: that Crewe will be his final ever destination. But as he embarks on his lonely journey, he fails to take into account the many other people who are also travelling that day. The people who also have their own reasons for being where they are, and how it is possible for each personal journey to intersect with any other person along the way. Michael is fighting the demons of his past, but is there a possibility that his fellow passengers can help him to lay them to rest at last? Or is it too late to deter him from his final destination?
Andrew Mulligan has written a profoundly thought provoking book about the connections we make in our everyday lives and the huge impact they have upon us, sometimes even meaning the difference between life and death. It’s the story of one man’s lonely train journey into despair that ends up taking him to a destination very different to the one he planned on reaching. It shows how hope can reach you in even the unlikeliest of places and how, sometimes, a missed travel connection doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. It may just be the start of a brave new one.
Although I did struggle to get along with this book in the beginning, I’m so glad I persevered with it as it gave me a lot of food for thought and I ended up really enjoying it. Beautifully written, with a varied cast of characters that brought the book vividly to life, Train Man is a book that shows the importance of not only talking about how you’re feeling, but also of listening to the people you meet in your day to day lives and taking notice of them. It could make all the difference, not only to them, but to you too.
Andrew Mulligan is a talented author who has shown great empathy towards people with mental health issues in this book. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next! Recommended.
Train Man by Andrew Mulligan is available to buy from July 4th: Amazon UK
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