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Books - Around India In 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh, Published by Nicholas Brealey, £10.99

It’s rare that a debut by an unknown travel writer gains praise from the literary great and good, which is some indication that this book - already dubbed “one to watch” by Conde Nast Traveller and “witty” by William Dalrymple - is something pretty special.

Taking her inspiration from Jules Verne, Monisha Rajesh sets off to cross great swathes of the South Indian rail network, writing the landscape with bright daubs of colourful description.

Her will-they-won’t-they relationship with her louche photographer companion, known just as “Passpartout”, adds another tier to the travelogue, as the physical challenges of travel through a swiftly changing India are accompanied by questions of a spiritual nature.

Amusing and thoughtful by turns, Rajesh has sidestepped the navel-gazing pitfall common to many wannabe travel writers and piped up with an informative, yet fresh and engaging voice that we will surely be hearing more of.

Rating: 9/10

 

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