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Summary

Bloomsbury presents Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh, read by Monisha Rajesh.  

Winner of the National Geographic Traveller Award for Best Travel Book.  

Shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award.

When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in 80 train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn’t long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles - almost twice the circumference of the earth - coasting along the world’s most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.    

Packing up her rucksack - and her fiancé, Jem, Monisha embarks on an unforgettable adventure that will take her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan and beyond. The ensuing journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strikes up friendships and swaps stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views.    

From the author of Around India in 80 Trains comes another witty and irreverent look at the world and a celebration of the glory of train travel. Rajesh offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in an audiobook that will make you laugh out loud - and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen - as you whirl around the world listening to it.

©2019 Monisha Rajesh (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"Monisha Rajesh has chosen one of the best ways of seeing the world. Never too fast, never too slow, her journey does what trains do best. Getting to the heart of things. Prepare for a very fine ride." (Michael Palin)

What listeners say about Around the World in 80 Trains

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Interesting but obnoxious

An interesting journey however written in a myopic and obnoxious form. I don't tend to write many reviews but I felt compelled to do so. Whilst I vicariously tried living many of the journeys through the writers words and who coincidently in this production is the narrator, there are many moments where they demonstrate elitist, obnoxious pre conceptions of places and experiences they've not yet had. Considering this is a book about new experiences I baulked at that and found it a little sad. Namely, the perception of going on cruises, the the general perception of Eastern and western travellers behaviour, their rose tinted view of a specific type of traveller and what felt like a guide trip for a very middle class, privileged yet shielded couple. It could have done better, been more open minded and down to earth. This sounds like it was written by Judith Chalmers.

14 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable

Overall, an enjoyable listen that has flashes of brilliance. However, the final few chapters are almost ruined by Monisha's insistence on using her terrible Scottish accent to read the dialogue of Mark, one of her travel companions. I had to turn it off/fast forward at times because of this.

9 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this fantastic book. Not travelling this year because of the virus but now I've listened to this book I feel like I have! The author brings every place she visits to life. Really wish Around India in 80 trains was also available on Audible.

7 people found this helpful

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A very enjoyable summer listen.

having the author as the narrator was a fantastic move. you can really here the passion for the story and being Scottish myself love her attempt at her friends accent.

3 people found this helpful

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Stick with it

Like others, I struggled to get into this in the early chapters, but am very glad I stuck with it.

The author's early experiences and narrative in Europe didn't warm me to her as a traveller - she comes across as simultaneously smug and naive. It improved though as she moved out of the familiar, and focused more on describing the train journeys rather than the city breaks in between. Then it became really very enjoyable.

And once it reaches that stage this is very much a book about travelling the world by train. The focus is on the train journeys, and the encounters and train adventures along the way. After the initial European stage there is very little about the places encountered in between. And that focus is what makes it a great book.

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Very enjoyable.

An very enjoyable, personal account of an interesting journey. I didn't know what to expect beforehand... but it was a lovely travelogue. Full of personal and observational details. Very well written and read by the author.

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A fantastic book, perfect for lockdown!

This is the PERFECT escape from our current situation! The locations, the encounters and the experiences are so well described (and performed) they are almost palpable. Pack your bags, are you are about to travel around the world!

1 person found this helpful

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10/10 Great adventure

A great adventure story. Monisha read it perfectly. Would listen again, Definitely given me the bug to go traveling by train again!

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I was a little disappointed

I read Monisha’s first book, about her travels around India, which was superb. This book disappointed me slightly as she got very judgemental and snippy about other people. Everyone is entitled to their political opinions and bias but I don’t think that it should be so overt in a travel book like this. It kept irritating me , which was a shame as the tales about North Korea and China , in particular, were fascinating.

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Fabulous

A book that takes you on it’s wonderful journey- brilliantly written and narrated! Thank you !

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  • Timothy Mark Abbott
  • 13-06-20

Great escapism for the lockdown

Monisha Rajesh's story of her 7 months of railway journeys in the company of her fiance Jem makes for wonderful escapism in this time of enforced home arrest under the pandemic. Above all gentle in its tone and world view, Rajesh's observations are always humane, open eyed, and open minded. Even in the few moments of apparent peril she maintains an air of calm objectivity rather than indulge in scandalized complaint, preferring to reflect on the humanity she encounters rather than stoke xenophobic fear. While I can't go so far as to describe it as a masterpiece, the writing is occasionally poetic, and once in a while quite moving, and she leaves lasting impressions on the mind's eye. I'd love to hear her narrate her earlier book on her travels in India, perhaps she and Audible have it on their to-do list.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rick
  • 05-06-20

Highly enjoyable armchair train travel experience

I have been a railfan (or an anorak, foamer, trains evangelist whatever) since I was a kid. I have been travelling quite a few of the railway lines Rajesh mentioned in her book in the last 3 years. This book recalled my memory of railway travel. I am very impressed the small details she have been able to spot. I can even smell the smell, feel the train moving the way she described. I bought both books and audiobook. I personally prefer the auidobook better because her voice (eg. minmicking her travel companion accent, the tense moment of catching a train or the potential of not able to leave North Korea) made the listeners feeling they are part of her travel experience.

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  • Zachary Andrada
  • 05-01-21

too much dialog

its too hard to keep track of people and whats happening. too much dialog

1 person found this helpful

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  • TiffanyD
  • 05-04-21

Fun for lovers of travel in general

Very fun for lovers of travel in general and of train travel in particular. Some great local color through a series of interesting locations. I am disappointed she didn't do her original route through Uzbekistan and more of Eastern Europe, but happy Kazakhstan made the cut. I'm always suspicious when an author reads their own work as too often it's not a great fit. But she does a good job, even when I suspect she's mocking some American accents. It's ok. We can take it. Small complaint: I know the whole bit complaining about tipping in America was sort of in jest, but given the wages most wait staff make here, please don't begrudge even the surliest of them the tip box.

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  • TomDuncombe
  • 11-11-20

shallow and breezy

a nice palate cleanser of a book recounts her train journey around the global north.