Book Review: Night Train to Lisbon
Night Train to Lisbon
By: Pascal Mercier
Have you ever read a book that seemed to ask and answer so many questions? That intrigued and inspired you while at the same time it was mentally and emotionally exhausting? Night Train to Lisbon was just such a book for me. At times I wanted to devour it while other times I could only bring myself to read a few pages. I’ve never been so struck by a work of fiction before. Though I usually review travelogues I had to share my impressions on Night Train to Lisbon.
“Buried under all the mute experiences are those unseen ones that give our life its form, its colour, and its melody.” ~ Night Train to Lisbon
Night Train to Lisbon follows a strange Latin teacher, Raimund Gregorious, as he sets out on an unexpected journey that will change his life forever. After a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman in his home town of Bern, Switzerland and stumbling upon a mesmerizing book in his local used bookstore written by a Portuguese doctor, it’s as though Portugal is calling to him. Breaking all routine he heads to Lisbon by train in search of what, he’s not quite sure – the man who wrote the thought provoking book? a break? or something he’s not yet aware of?
A Night Train to Lisbon parallels the book written by the doctor as Gregorious reads it as he explores Lisbon in search of the man behind the book. A small interest grows to an overpowering obsession to find answers about the doctor, himself and life.
“Life is not what we live, it is what we imagine living.” ~ Night Train to Lisbon
If ever there was a book, a work of fiction, that makes a city come to life it’s Night Train to Lisbon. It’s a thrilling read, though not for the faint of heart. It delves deep into the questions that plague a wondering soul; do you think people see you as you are? how far will you go to save a life? what happens when memories are unattainable? can you truly understand and know another person?
Night Train to Lisbon is a book that will haunt me for some time but it also helped me fall in love with a city I’ve yet to visit – Lisbon!