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Marcel Proust, who was fond of trains, wrote of their compelling melancholia. The train journey as life is a popular literary trope that has transported readers since the first steam locomotives of the early 1800s. My own love for trains began with English children’s books, in which they were a frequent plot device, each journey requiring a leap into the unknown.

One of the most memorable train rides I have taken was from Prague to Český Krumlov in southern Bohemia. We had to change from a mainline train to a branch line. It was the dead of winter and we hopped onto what looked like a communist-era milk train. We endured a freezing but nonetheless exceptionally beautiful experience, which brings me back to the appeal of railway literature and the novel Peaces, the latest by Helen Oyeyemi...

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