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I read my second Bohumil Hrabal book today – ‘Closely Watched Trains‘.

The time is towards the end of the Second World War. Germany is losing the war, but Czechoslovakia is still under German occupation. Milos works in a small, sleepy Czech railway station as an apprentice. His work involves keeping an eye on the passing trains and showing the right signals. He has a boss who is more like a colleague and is an interesting character, and they both report to the station master who almost behaves like their dad – affectionate and expressive in equal measure. Milos is in love with Masha. The story is related by Milos and we get to know more about him and his family (I loved Milos’ depiction of his own father, who is a very fascinating person) and the interesting happenings in that town and that station, and the interesting things about his colleagues. We also get to know about the different kinds of trains which pass through the station. Things are all going well at this point for Milos and his friends, but one day Milos and his boss receive a strange errand. What happens after that is told in the rest of the story.

Closely Watched Trains‘ depicts beautifully the small-town Czechoslovakia during the war. Bohumil Hrabal’s prose is filled with charm and humour and the story is lots of fun to read. Towards the end the story takes an interesting turn and kicks to another gear which was totally unexpected. I didn’t see that coming. I was expecting that the story will end with humour and charm with everyone living happily everafter, but the author had something else in store.

Other reviews

Caroline (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Marina (Finding Time to Write)

Kaggsy (Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings)

I enjoyed reading ‘Closely Watched Trains‘. Have you read it?

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