Night Train to Lisbon
“Night Train to Lisbon” will indeed challenge you to take the journey along with Raimund Gregorius, professor of Classics. Hi lives a quiet, predictable life until one morning, when on his way to work, he prevents a beautiful young woman from jumping off a bridge. What leads us into the story is a small mesmerising book written by an anonymous Portuguese author, which he discovers in her coat pocket. Disturbed and anxious because of this whole event, but also entranced and very keen to find out more, professor Gregorius steps onto the night train to Lisbon for this sudden, mysterious ride. For the first time in his life he is following his instinct.
We follow two stories which overlap. By slowly discovering the life of Amadeu de Prado, a highly respected doctor, a brilliant scholar and a member of the resistance movement in opposition to Salazar’s regime, Raimund Gregorius begins his journey to self-discovery. His strong and uncompromised obsession with Amadeu’s life and his writing leads him all over the city of Lisbon as he speaks to those who were entangled in Prado’s life. By pulling together pieces of Amadeo’s life, which involves political and emotional intrigue, the life of the extraordinary man who had an impact on everyone around him emerges.
For me, this profoundly literary and philosophical book is a very thought provoking. It isn’t an easy read. It makes you to consider many thoughts, beliefs, emotions and questions and somehow forces you to think about life’s basic dilemmas and how we approach them. The real bonuses are the main characters. They are written with care and love. They are real people, and that is probably the reason why they will make you think about your own life and routines and challenge your perspective of friendship, love and loyalty.
Despite some depressive elements, I see this book as a positive attempt to help us understand what are sometimes painful life lessons. Life happens and it’s often full of disappointment, but those wonderful unexpected episodes enable us to overcome our fear of the unknown and to enjoy life, or at least, what’s left of it, as is the case for Gregorius.
Through this book, theories about the powerful influence of random, uncontrollable events in people’s life routines will come alive, but what really matters is how people’s choices, in responding to those events, affect their lives.
Come as no surprise, there is also a movie. And in my opinion, it is equally attractive and appealing.