This is probably not a book for those whose interest in Spain gravitates towards such contemporary phenomena as the films of Pedro Almodóvar, Barcelona Football Club or the fashion retailer Zara. Nor, as far as trains go, is it a volume for people fascinated by the engineering feats of Spain’s new high-speed AVE train system, which means that you can travel from Madrid to Seville in just over two hours, or from Madrid to Barcelona in less than three (rather amazing, when you recall that the old service used to take nine hours). Christopher Howse does not like high-speed trains. Even moderately paced express trains are too fast for him, for one cannot really observe the landscape from them.
The book, as Howse makes clear at the beginning, is ‘about Spain, not about trains’.