I must confess I’ve always longed to board a sleeper train and travel across Europe, it would be such a joy to go to sleep in one country and wake up in a whole new place. So when I opened up my copy of ‘The Secret of the Night Train,’ I was instantly captivated at the thought of travelling with Max from Paris to Istanbul and that’s before I knew she was about to become deeply embroiled in a complex crime-solving expedition. Beautiful storytelling meets compelling mystery unravelling in a tale of diamond smugglers, thieves and undercover detectives. Sylvia has a special talent for creating the most intriguing and wonderful characters who you can’t help but fall in love with and Max is no exception. I was totally charmed and entertained by this exciting whirlwind of a story that had me devouring the whole book in one sitting. Marco’s illustrations are beautifully detailed capturing the sheer joy of this great journey and the thrill of the chase as Max tries to uncover the true identity of the diamond thief. An irresistible and breath-taking read, I’m really hoping there is more to come from our delightful heroine Max.
Today on the blog I have a special guest post from Sylvia Bishop where we embark upon a journey from Munich to Budapest aboard the Kalman Imre.
Train no. 2: Kalman Imre (Munich – Budapest) – Sylvia Bishop
In my new book, The Secret of the Night Train, Max Morel takes a journey from Paris to Istanbul on four trains. She is accompanied by a nun called Sister Marguerite, and must solve the mystery of a smuggled diamond. I was lucky enough to do this journey myself, and wrote a lot of the book on board. In this series of blog posts, I talk about my real journey, and how it informed the book.
So here we are at stop number 2 with Book Lover Jo (AKA Munich – Budapest)
I had never been on a sleeper train before, and it was a lot smaller than I expected.
This creates all sorts of etiquette problems. There isn’t room for everyone to stand in the couchette cars at the same time, but at some point you all have to get in there to put the bedding out on your bunk and stow your luggage (which there is not really space for). Add to this the fact that everybody speaks different languages. Get ready to smile winningly a lot.
Maybe all the smiling winningly tricked my brain, or maybe it was the delicious pizza I had eaten at Munich station, but I was having a great time. (In the original draft of this chapter, Max eats pizza too. My housemate told me off. This is the only scene set in Germany, he pointed out; at least try and be a bit German with your detail choice. So now Max wants pizza, but is marched off for schnitzel by Sister Marguerite. The moral is, if you have the temerity to offer me edits, I will fictionalise you as a bossy nun.)
It was already the middle of the night when we left, so the bunks were folded out. On the Kalman Imre everyone gets a bunk that isn’t big enough to sit up in, and a brown blanket that you have to wrap about yourself like a cocoon to get warm enough. The train guard asks if you want orange juice or apple juice for the morning, then pulls a juddering concertina door shut across your car.
I didn’t think any amount of winningly smiling would win me forgiveness for shining a light at that point, so I couldn’t write. But I could lie there imagining a little girl sneaking around in all that darkness. So I did.
Join us for the next stage of the journey tomorrow on Get Kids Into Books’ blog
Thank you to Oliva and Scholastic for sending me a copy of this marvellous book. ‘The Secret of the Night Train,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.