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‘Every parent wants to give their child the world. Sean Doyle gave his daughter India.

Night Train to Varanasi wears its bristling intelligence so lightly, darting and diving from shocking history to the profound core of India’s spiritual tradition – how it took hold of the West, and even today continues to change who we are. But it’s in the tender, self-revealing way that Doyle relates to his daughter, stumbling on a path between protecting her and letting her go, that this book touches us most deeply. It’s a jewel of a book – a lesson in fatherhood and, beneath that, in how to be fully alive.’

Steve Biddulph AM,

Bestselling author of Raising Girls and The New Manhood



‘A great account … thoroughly enjoyable reading. The narrative flows beautifully, and the two strands – encountering India, and the pair’s engagement with the place and each other – hold together nicely. I enjoyed it all. Doyle neatly sets up all the ambivalences of being on the road again in India: the fun of it, and everything else. He has a fine knack of evoking place and the circumstances of travelling: the unaccustomed spaces, the accompanying noise, colour, activity and people. The story of the author and his daughter is particularly well handled – their spoken and non-spoken interactions, what they feel as the trip unfolds.


‘This engaging travel narrative of India today is also a perceptive chronicle of India in its heyday as a counterculture hub some half a century or so ago. The book is both a commentary on the present – of what India is like now - and a record of the past. It manages both roles with great skill. It becomes effectively a primary document for the experiences of a generation of visitors, travellers and sojourners on the subcontinent, a record and explanation of their involvement and style of life. All in all, a fine achievement.’

Dr Jim Masselos,

Senior Research Associate in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney; Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities, of the Australia India Institute, and of the Asiatic Society in Mumbai – one of fewer than 10 foreigners elected since 1947 to a society that traces its origins to 1804. 



‘A wonderful illustration of the author’s extensive knowledge of the history and culture of India, his experience of previous visits and, above all, his great love for the country. Unlike all other travel books about India, and uniquely appealing, is the fact that here the author is accompanied by his just-out-of-school daughter. His fondness for her, his protectiveness, his eagerness to show her places he has seen is truly charming. The book draws the reader so much into the feelings and experiences of these two that Delhi, Ajmer, Varanasi and all the places visited are interesting because of them, as part of their experience. This is an achievement we associate more with an accomplished novelist than a travel writer. Travel writing is at its best when, as here, the interest in the travel is mirrored by our empathy with the traveller.’

Professor Rajiva Verma,

Former Head, Department of English, University of Delhi;
former President, The Shakespeare Society of India

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