Changing Trains by Mark Johnson


If you liked Call Me By Your Name, Changing Trains will transport you back to the same time period and one gay working class boy’s coming-of-age journey of discovery and sexual self awareness. 

After a busy week in the newsroom, editor Sam is looking forward to relaxing on his regular Eurostar journey from London to his second home in the south west of France.

But a chance encounter at the busy station compels him back to a time in the 1980s, when he travelled parts of Europe by train alone and in search of adventure, self discovery and his place in the world.

A sun-kissed, coming-of-age story set in a time just before mobile devices, the internet and social media, Sam travels across Europe, with its varied currencies, border controls and strange cultures, keen to better understand his own nature and his relationship with others in a new emerging world.

About the Author:

Mark Johnson is a Scottish born journalist, writer and broadcaster. For three years he wrote a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph on life as an expat commuter. He has also worked for award winning news organisations such as the BBC, Bloomberg TV and Dow Jones Newswires.

He’s spent most of his life working as a journalist in the City of London, covering the ups and downs of the global financial markets.

In the noughties, he spent three years living in Dubai and has extensively travelled the world for work and pleasure. 

He now lives between London and New Aquitaine in France, traveling often by eurostar and TGV and longs for the day when he doesn’t have to ‘change trains’ to get to the south west.

Mark’s Website

Reviews of Changing Trains:

Amazon: This was an enjoyable, gentle read. It perfectly captures the uncertainties and inexperience of a young man setting off on an adventure, and how these adventures helps him know himself and the world a little better.

Amazon: Lose yourself in 1980’s nostalgia as Sam takes a trip around Europe by train. A great read and would be excellent as a Summer holiday read book.
Amazon: What a great read of a young man’s first big adventure , I didn’t want it to end – please write another with what happened after you returned home.
Amazon: A delightful read that transported me back to my youth and the summer/autumn of 1985. Whilst I might not have been basking in the Mediterranean glow of the setting of this novel, the musical backdrop took me to a more innocent time n travel, before ipads and smart phones. Set more than 30 years ago, the themes never go out of date – coming of age, finding oneself, leaving home and a Russian Cold War all are part of young Sam’s story.


I wandered unchallenged into the First Class section
of the long train. In one compartment I observe an
elderly man with a short salt and pepper beard. Dressed
in a dark, heavy coat, he seemed out of place for the
warm season and looked slightly shifty, sitting there
smoking a cigarette, glancing at his watch from time to
time. He occasionally eyed the man in the smart pinstriped
suit sat opposite, who was reading a copy of Le
Monde, unaware of the furtive attentions of his fellow
passenger. A third passenger, a wiry-haired old lady
dozed in the opposite corner, her grey cardigan and dull
tartan skirt the pattern of which is interrupted by the
book – whose title is written in a language I cannot
comprehend – resting, open, in her lap. The greybearded
old man in the corner spotted me taking in the
characters of his cabin. Startled, I moved on quickly,
wondering if I’d just witnessed the early overtures of a
real-life scene from The Lady Vanishes.
Eventually, I came to the front end of the train. There
was no buffet car to be found. My hunger pangs still
banging on the walls of my stomach, I passed my way
back along the train again. I noticed in another
compartment a sole occupant. He looked British. There
was something about his hair that struck me as odd. He
seemed too old to have such a strong, full, crop of hair.
He sat upright, stiff almost. One leg crossed over the
other, smoke filling the compartment as he dragged on a
cigarette. I noticed his tan leather suitcase on the floor
beside him. He had his name etched in capitals just next
to the handle, “NORRIS’. He seemed prim, from a
bygone age. Somehow sad, yet doubtless full of stories.

Categories: books, ebooks, memoir, nonfiction

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