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  • Belles and Whistles

  • Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains
  • By: Andrew Martin
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Summary

In the heroic days of rail travel, you could dine on kippers and champagne aboard the Brighton Belle, smoke a postprandial cigar as the Golden Arrow approached Paris or be shaved by the Flying Scotsman's onboard barber. Everyone from schoolboys to socialites knew of these glamorous trains.

Andrew Martin recreates famous train journeys by travelling aboard their nearest modern-day equivalents, describing the disappearance of the extravagance and luxury.

©2014 Andrew Martin (P)2016 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"His wonderfully well-informed, anecdotal prose punches more than just tickets." ( Times)
"A bittersweet journey of contrasts between romance and reality." ( Saga)

What listeners say about Belles and Whistles

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A good book marred by irritations in the narration

What made the experience of listening to Belles and Whistles the most enjoyable?

The evocation of the luxury trains of the past and the interesting and informative descriptions of some modern services - especially the sleeper trains - which I have always wanted to travel on but never have. The author has made me realise that I'm probably not missing out on as much luxury as I'd imagined.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Belles and Whistles?

Sadly it was the shock and puzzlement at hearing the narrator's pronunciation of Gresley as 'Greesley'.

What didn’t you like about Gordon Griffin’s performance?

The letters ECML serve as an abbreviation for East Coast Main Line in print; however in an audio book their constant repetition saves no time and is an irritation. Even worse is the ponderous spelling out of WCML, which actually takes longer to say than 'West Coast Main Line' and one may wonder why this didn't occur to the narrator. But most annoying of all was Mr Griffin's insistence on pronouncing Sir Nigel Gresley's name as 'Greesley'!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did, I winced with pain every time I heard Gresley pronounced as 'Greesley'. This is repeated throughout the chapter on the Flying Scotsman and spoils it.

2 people found this helpful

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golden ages recollected

a very interesting listen, I had read the book before but i find it strangely comforting and relaxing to listen to the vocabulary of railway travel and history. the diversions are fascinating and I find myself scrawling notes of future authors to seek out. imagery is evoked too, and of course memories of these grand old stations. they should have got someone like Andrew Martin, or Chritian Wolmar, to do the bbc railway journeys instead of that pompous Portillo, part of the camp that airways detested publica enterprises luke railways.

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Please mind the gap

I gather that this book has received mixed reviews. I liked it though I really did. Listening to the idyllic luxury travels through the past made me think that going anywhere by train must have been the best thing ever. What I really liked though is the fact that Mr. Martin likes Glasgow Central station. So do I even the assisted travel biggies that can be heard wherever you go on the station. A really nice read though the ending when it came was unexpected. One to read again I think.