Novels set or around trains or public transit

I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite Agatha Christies, the 4:50 from Paddington. It really is a fully imagined novel, with all sorts of lively characters, including the eyewitness, Mrs. McGillicuddy, and the wonderfully, refreshingly competent Lucy Eyelesbarrow. Lucy is a particularly wonderful character because everybody around her falls in love with her, and to my best recollection, Christie never describes Lucy’s physically at all. She just gets shit done and possesses both tact and a sparkling intelligence.

One best bit from the 4:50 from Paddington has the redoubtable Miss Marple getting on trains, looking at train schedules, and cadging some maps to do a geographic analysis of sorts to find the probable

This got me thinking about novels that have an important train aspect to them. There’s obviously Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on A Train . And, of course, more Christie: Murder on the Orient Express. Speaking of the Orient Express, there’s Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love.

I can’t think of any more. Suggestions?

3 thoughts on “Novels set or around trains or public transit

  1. There’s the new Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins. Do the Snowpiercer comics by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette count, it’s “public” sorta? I always think of Anna Karenina and trains. Iron Council by China Mieville. And now I won’t be able to let this go either. For tots there is The Little Engine that Could … and movies are much easier. And Harry Potter?

  2. David Dowell’s WWII novels are all named after train stations in Berlin, (Zoo, Masaryk, Silesian, Stettin, and Potsdam) and trains are important to the stories. I just finished his WWI era book, Jack of Spies; trains are also central to it. And of course Paddington the Bear…

  3. Oh! And E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime,” in which the Russian tailor Tahteh, who becomes a film director, travels from New York City to Boston via streetcar. That has always been my favorite part of the book.

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