Synopses & Reviews
A huge international best seller, this ambitious novel spanning Europe and the twentieth century plumbs the depths of our shared humanity to offer up a breathtaking insight into life, love, and literature itself.
A major hit in Germany that spent 140 weeks on the best-seller list and went on to become one of Europe's biggest literary blockbusters in the last five years, Night Train to Lisbon now introduces to the English language world the critically acclaimed Swiss author Pascal Mercier. It is an astonishing novel, a large-scale international literary feat in the vein of Carlos Ruiz Zafón and Daniel Kehlmann, and a compelling exploration of consciousness, the possibility of truly understanding another person, and the ability of language to define our very selves.
Raimund Gregorius is a Latin teacher at a Swiss college with a vast knowledge of Greek and Hebrew who one day after a chance encounter with a mysterious Portuguese woman abandons his old life to start a new one. He takes the night train to Lisbon and carries with him a book by Amadeu de Prado, a (fictional) Portuguese doctor and essayist whose writings explore the ideas of loneliness, mortality, death, friendship, love, and loyalty. Chafing against his solitary routine for the first time in his life, Gregorius becomes obsessed by what he reads and restlessly struggles to comprehend the life of the author. His investigations lead him all over the city of Lisbon, as he speaks to those who were entangled in Prado's life. Gradually, the picture of an extraordinary man emerges a doctor and poet who rebelled against Salazar's dictatorship.
Recalling Bernhard Schlink and Nicole Krauss in its affirmation of the power of literature, will, and the individual, Night Train to Lisbon is a book of sensual beauty and artistic excellence, one that will be remembered for its soul and wit as well as its universality and great intellectual depth.
"Evoking shades of Casablanca, Grayson (Waterloo Station) spins a tale of spycraft and love in this lightweight period novel. In the summer of 1936, sheltered, lovely Carson Weatherell, privileged daughter of wealthy Connecticut parents, sets off on a European tour with her Aunt Jane and Jane's husband, Lawrence, a British intelligence officer. On the train from Paris to Lisbon, Carson meets the eye of dashing Alec Breve, a young British physicist who introduces the girl to the world of the intellect as well as the heart. Trouble is brewing, however, and Carson grows up in a hurry when her uncle confronts her with evidence that Alec is a spy for the Germans. She can't deny the suspicions planted by this news, but neither can she completely believe it. At first she is determined to have nothing further to do with Alec, but she must face him when he appears at her home. Reunited, they decide to return to England and clear Alec's name. But with war in the air, will they be believed? Grayson's handling of young love is touching, if rather prissy 'the train continued on along its tracks, unaware that on the platform at its very end, a young American girl no, a young American woman was falling in love' but finely drawn characters are given too little to do in what could've been a more substantial story, given longer treatment. Agent, Peter Matson.(May) Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"One of the great European novels of the past few years." Page des libraires (France)
"For me, this beautiful book, philosophical inquiry included, lit a fuse that snaked its way into my consciousness, sending out sparklers of light that made me feel more alive, more awake, for days. I hated to see it come to an end. What more can one ask?" The Oregonian
"The text of Amadeu's writing is filled not with mere nuggets of wisdom but with a mother lode of insight, introspection and an honest, self-conscious person's illuminations of all the dark corners of his own soul." Seattle Times
"One reads this book almost breathlessly, can hardly put it down....A handbook for the soul, intellect, and heart." Die Welt (Germany)
"Night Train to Lisbon taps into some of the oldest veins of story, the primal ones of night journeys, of a distant land, of being stuck in-place, and yet adrift and confused....I'm not sure how much this book might teach any of us how to live...but it has helped remind this reader of what it is to really read." Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company
"A book in which poetry and philosophy are intimately intertwined." Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland)
Raimund Gregorius teaches classical languages at a Swiss lycée, and lives a life governed by routine. One day, a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman inspires him to question his lifeand leads him to an extraordinary book that will open the possibility of changing it. Inspired by the words of Amadeu de Prado, a doctor whose intelligence and magnetism left a mark on everyone who met him and whose principles led him into a confrontation with Salazars dictatorship, Gergorius boards a train to Lisbon. As Gregorius becomes fascinated with unlocking the mystery of who Prado was, an extraordinary tale unfolds.