Shades Of Words

The Wheel Spins



In life, one wonders at least once, if one is going insane. Sometimes these doubts may last for a second or sometimes for days. The feeling of losing one’s mind can be a result of stress, anger, nervousness, anticipation and most importantly how others are treating you.

Made famous by the Hitchcock movie, “The Lady Vanishes”, The Wheel Spins is a story of a young girl Iris, who believes she is going crazy, because everyone around her says that she is. Iris is on the way to England in a train. She is all by herself and cannot speak any foreign languages. Just before she boarded the train, she was hit by a sunstroke which has left her disoriented. An English lady, Miss Froy, who is in the same compartment as her, befriends her for tea. Iris dozes off and when she wakes up Miss Froy is no longer there. Iris is convinced that something is wrong but as she tries to ask her fellow passengers they tell her they don’t know what she is talking about  – that there never was Miss Froy.

Up to this point, as a reader your sympathies are with Iris who is clearly being taken for a ride. She enlists the help of an English professor and appeals to his sense of morality and justice to help her locate this missing woman. When other English passengers who had talked to Miss Froy in the dining car deny her existence, you start wondering. Is Iris really delusional and sick as everyone around her claiming to be? What ulterior motives could the fellow passengers possible have for lying about Miss Froy.

White creates a very vivid imagery of the train journey. As Iris rushes back and forth the length of the train – trying to find her Miss Froy, we are able to sense the motion of the train, the claustrophobic corridors, the heat of the steam and the overpowering sense of restless passengers. White continuously refers to the noisy and almost fatal movement of the train into the darkness, which emphasizes the abyss of insanity that Iris appears to be falling into and the complete hopelessness of the situation.

For me the most impressive part about the book was not its writing or characters but the very simple concept – what defines insanity? If everyone around you calls you crazy, and there is no one to disprove that, then is there a any hope ?



Author: Vipula

Before talking about who we are, we’d like to tell you a bit about how and why Shades of Words came into being. It all started with the idea of “A place where we could share with likeminded people about things we enjoy. From books to music to movies to travel; Shades of Words was to be a place about the best of our experiences” We thought about why should anyone read us? The answer was that whatever we review would be a mix of our experience of the thing along with interesting and useful information about it. So in case you are reading us regularly or even checking us out once in a while then we have succeeded in our efforts someway somewhere. Who are we? Known as Kapil Sood and Vipula Gupta, we thought of Shades of Words on one fine Sunday afternoon. Tired of writing interesting RFP’s and project documentation; we decided to give this a shot. Yes! We work in Indian IT industry. Cupid struck us while were innocently slogging together on the highly intricate job of formatting and beautifying documents! And since then, we have been working together to establish Shades of Words as a place that we can claim as ours. (Because buying a house is still years away!) What else? Kapil also writes some blogs which you can read here and here.

8 thoughts on “The Wheel Spins

  1. Doesn’t White do a great job of creating a sense of claustrophobia? That is a frightening feeling to think you might be ‘losing it’ as Iris did. Setting the story not only on a train but in a country where she couldn’t communicate with the others and worse the people she knew who were also British denying the existence of Miss Froy–was wonderfully done. I love that Penguin edition by the way!

  2. Danielle – Yes she does – I almost had a sense of nausea as I read some paragraphs. And isn’t the cover lovely – I love the traditional green and orange Penguin book covers

  3. Sounds interesting!

  4. Three things, I loved about this post. First, the image – I don’t know if it is a photograph of your own book (the book that you read from) or if it is an image from the internet. I can almost get the old book smell and it is absolutely amazing. Second, the way you have started the blog post. Its very nice. I have read a very similar story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his “Strange Pilgrims” … That story has remained with me forever. The title of the story is: “I only came to use the phone”, Try reading it if you can. I’d definitely like to read this book though.

  5. @Kapil – We should watch the movie together sometime – its really nice
    @Vishnu – Thanks for visiting and yes I know I owe you a long email. I loved the book cover too – but no it does not belong my book. Its an old edition and I got the image of the net. I have to read some Marquez and I am quite embarrassed that I haven’t. But I will keep your recommendation in mind. Do read this book and watch the movie

  6. Good find…Have you watched the movie yet? Since reading Poirot’s books I’m lately in the mood to read more mysteries/crime fiction. So hoping I’ll find this book at the NPL.

    • Yes I did watch the movie and hence I read the book. You must watch the movie – it is quite brilliant !
      Its lovely to read Christie..but remember everything can be savored if done in small doses 😉

  7. re: book review request by award-winning author

    Dear Vipula,

    I’m an award-winning author with a new book of fiction out this fall. Ugly To Start With is a series of thirteen interrelated stories about childhood published by West Virginia University Press.

    Can I interest you in reviewing it?

    If you write me back at, I can email you a PDF of my book. If you require a bound copy, please ask, and I will forward your reply to my publisher. Or you can write directly to Abby Freeland at:

    My publisher, I should add, can also offer your readers a free excerpt of my book through a link from your blog to my publisher’s website:

    Here’s what Jacob Appel, celebrated author of
    Dyads and The Vermin Episode, says about my new collection: “In Ugly to Start With, set in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Cummings tackles the challenges of boyhood adventure and family conflict in a taut, crystalline style that captures the triumphs and tribulations of small-town life. He has a gift for transcending the particular experiences to his characters to capture the universal truths of human affection and suffering–emotional truths that the members of his audience will recognize from their own experiences of childhood and adolescence.”

    My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story “The Scratchboard Project” received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

    I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY.

    For more information about me, please visit:

    Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing back from you.


    John Michael Cummings

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