Midnight Train to Prague: A Novel

Written by Carol Windley
Review by Sherry Jones

This is a wonderful book filled with vibrant characters in Central Europe during World War II, with infinite possibilities for drama and conflict. Windley spins tale after tale of love and loss around her protagonist, Natalia. She’s an intelligent, thoughtful young woman who, on a train journey to Prague with her wealthy, beautiful, eccentric mother, Beatriz, meets her father for the first time—but only after he has died of a heart attack. The doctor who tries to revive him, and the handsome driver of a car that Natalia watches as it passes the train, will have pivotal roles in the saga that unfolds.

Sweeping, beautifully told, and supremely entertaining, Midnight Train to Prague explores the human cost of war, the dark side of human nature that permits fascism and cruelty to exist, and the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Its characters are mostly aristocrats and bourgeoisie, living in castles and mansions and stoically enduring when deprived or driven out of their cushy lives. Reading about people with money is fun. Even as they lose their possessions and the people they love, however, Windley’s characters refuse to give up: Miklos, Natalia’s journalist husband; Rozalia, his tough-as-nails mother (and a countess); Magdalena, the doctor on the train; her son, Franz, who captures Natalia’s heart that day; and daughter Anna, who will help Natalia to survive the concentration camp where they both end up.

Midnight Train to Prague shows us that resilience comes from the heart, and how that happens.