Cover Image: Off the Tracks

Off the Tracks

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Member Reviews

The author reflects on her own train travels over the years while stuck in COVID lockdown. In doing so, Mulloy also does some research on the history of train travel and some famous train journeys. Entertaining, informative, and interesting.

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Off the Tracks by Pamela Mulloy is a fascinating book about train travel, its history, environmental connections and resurgence with a particular emphasis on the recent covid pandemic. The author describes her passion for ritual travel, especially with her daughter. My travels often take me to repeat places as well and trains are my preferred mode, utterly mesmerizing and relaxing.

My favourite aspects of this book are train travel in the past (madmen, crinolines, accidents, compartment invention, safety, effects of speed) and nostalgia. Sharing confined spaces with strangers can be disconcerting at times but give me trains over airplanes any day.

Whether you are an armchair traveler or enjoy train adventures, you will learn from Off the Tracks.

My sincere thank you to ECW Press and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this engrossing book.

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I was looking forward to this as it sounded like a fascinating look at various world train journeys like Around the World in 80 Trains.

Though the memoir bit was interesting and the philosophising about what would happen to travel after the pandemic was interesting in the end the writing seemed to have no clear destination and meandered all over the place with no clear core.

Overall an interesting enough read and well written but with a massive lack of focus that kept me wanting much, much more.

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Off the Tracks by Pamela Mulloy
This was a fun book about the authors personal train travel, plus those of famous people and their experiences with that type of Travel. It is an easy read with a lot of information and fun facts about trains, and the people that ride them.
Well researched and well told, I really enjoyed her writing and how she put it together.
I would like to thank NetGalley and ECW Press for a copy of this book.

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I’m a pretty easy sell when it comes to travel narrative and travel reflections. This one was kind of a mixed bag.

Mulloy does really well with the historical material included in the book, as well as with her musings on the cultural perception of train travel and the way it has changed and evolved.

I was less thrilled with the personal content, of which there is too much, and which veers into subtle but pointed sanctimony too often for my taste. The self righteousness of travelers who are not in a hurry is always very dismissive of those who don’t have the luxury not to be, and there’s a fair amount of that in this book that didn’t need to be there.

I didn’t much care for the pandemic-focused aspects of this either, mostly because they aren’t really anything unique and I think we’re still a bit too close to it to be reliving it in memoir-ish fashion without a more original perspective.

The writing itself is lovely and I really enjoyed the overall sentiment of the book. It’s appropriately pretty short, and it felt like the author did well in selecting what made it into a book on a subject that is probably best presented in a tighter, more concise manner than many of its ilk.

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‘In the time of pandemic slowness, when we were considering the condition of the entire planet, when we couldn’t travel anywhere, I decided to go back in time, to think of the social history of train journeys, not only in longing, but also to understand what it is that we gain in movement, in travel.’

I read this book as I was preparing for a seven-hour train journey and thinking of a journey my husband and I are booked on in 2025: The Indian Pacific travelling across Australia, between Sydney and Perth. I have not undertaken any of the journeys Pamela Mulloy has, but I can relate to her love of train travel. My first long train journey was the overnight train from Melbourne to Sydney in 1970. Both cities were unknown to me then.

‘Why does our memory sift through events and leave so many holes?’

In this book, under COVD-19 lockdown, Ms Mulloy remembers her own journeys. She also mentions journeys by others: the train crash which made Charles Dickens fearful of train travel, Sarah Bernhardt being trapped in a blizzard in the Midwest in the 1890s. And I remember train trips in Tasmania in the 1960s and early 1970s, when the state still had a passenger train service.

There is something about train travel: more relaxing than flying, less stressful than driving.

As Ms Mulloy wrote:

‘Memories can be underrated but that was largely what we had under lockdown. The lived experience of going away, of travelling was not possible, but this time offered a rare period of extended reflection, not just of where I had been but how each trip had shaped me.’
For most of the travel I missed during the COVID-19 pandemic, trains are not an option. And yet there is something about train journeys which beckons. There are a few long journeys I can undertake within Australia, and I hope to complete them all.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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I really enjoy the adventure of train travel and OffThe Tracks was a wonderful guide to the world of train travel.Pamela Mulloy shares her train travels and also shares travels of people in history like the actress Sarah Bernhardt,An interesting read that I will be recommending.#netgalley #ecw

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This was good!

I love train travel and had no idea they were so interesting. I knew about Charles Dickens but as the author is Canadian there is a ton of info about the first railway there and her experience of the long ride between Toronto and Quebec. I liked the way she put in information about famous trains as well as lesser known ones. The cover is a comfort and so is the book.

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This is a great browse book about train travel. I enjoy train travel so it's something I enjoyed reading, as I am sure train enthusiasts will enjoy. The author writes, not only of her own train travels, but also includes historical notes about train travel. It would make a great gift book for those soon to go train! Cou;d even see myself reading while traveling! Also a good browse in winter- it's not very long book. maybe enjoy a bit daily over an afternoon while planning your next vacation!

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