The Dining Car on the Orient Express

Imagine you are in the dining car on the Orient Express.

It’s the 1930’s and you are awaiting your four-course meal with fellow passengers, Detective Hercule Poirot, Greta Ohlsson, Mary Debenham, Mrs. Hubbard, Hector MacQueen, the Count and Countess Andrenyi, and an American tycoon, Edward Ratchett.

You are unaware but by the end of your trip, one person will be dead!

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Welcome to the first edition of the Virtual Book Club.

I along with three other bloggers will be sharing our interpretation of a different book on the fourth week of each month.

On Thursday we will be sharing something home decor related and on the following Saturday a culinary treat, inspired by our book.

Murder on the Orient Express

I am so excited to share my interpretation of this month’s book “Murder on the Orient Express”

A Little History

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express was introduced in 1883 and transported kings and queens as well as many of the rich and famous across Europe and inspired the work of author Agatha Christie.

The creator of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, Christie penned “Murder in the Calais Coach,” a book that later was named “Murder on the Orient-Express.”

The train was discontinued in 1977 but revived as the Venice Simplon Orient Express train in 1982.

Not much has changed since Christie (the queen of crime) created the Calais coach-killing on this famous train. Guests travel in vintage carriages, evoking the high-class rail travel of the Roaring Twenties.

old photograph of a family in the dining car on the orient express
Service on board a CIWL dining car, circa 1930 © Fonds de dotation Orient Express

The Romance of the Orient Express

Given that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner I decided to lean into the romance of the Orient Express.

It’s definitely a trip that someone would take for a special occasion like an anniversary or a honeymoon. It is a luxury trip.

If you were on the Orient Express in the 1930’s you would probably have had afternoon tea in the lounge car or your own carriage and then dressed for dinner later in the day.

I imagine that you would first head to the bar car for a glass of champagne. The champagne of choice on the Orient Express is Veuve Clicquot. I’ve had this champagne before and it is yummy.

Then you would head to the restaurant car for dinner.

In my Saturday post, I will share my romantic dinner that we will be enjoying on my Orient Express Table.

The Decor on the Orient Express

History surrounds each passenger who travels on the train, with the work of famous Art Deco designers who decorated the carriages.

René Lalique was the designer of one of the dining cars, while René Prou created the decor for six sleeping cars in the late 1920s.

My inspiration came from the dining cars on the Orient Express.

After studying many photographs it was clear that the Art Deco design from the 30s is still alive and well on this famous luxury train.

There is a lot of glass, gold, dark rich wood tones, and fabric in jewel tones that appear to be velvet.

Book Talk

 Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the famous Orient Express in its tracks as it travels through the mountainous Balkans. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year but, by the morning, it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of the passengers is none other than detective Hercule Poirot. On vacation. Isolated and with a killer on board, Poirot must identify the murderer—in case he or she decides to strike again. 

Dining on the Orient Express

Taking a queue from my research, I fashioned navy velvet curtains on a window in my Orient Express train car dining table vignette.

There were also rooms on the train that had rich tapestry materials as well so I used a chair that I recently reupholstered for my One Room Challenge room as the chair in my dining car space.

Just like the tables in the photos, I also have a crisp white tablecloth on my table.

Over the years there have been many kinds of china that have been used in the dining car but I was fixed on a white china with gold trim.

Now on a mission, I found what I was looking for on Facebook Marketplace. I only have two dinner plates (Adeline China – Majestic) and two salad plates (Noritake 175 China). They are perfect for a romantic dinner with my “Handy”.

I used glassware that I already own. a Waterford Crystal wine glass, a Fostoria iced tea glass (for water), and another etched wine glass. They look amazing on my table.

This past fall I went to Liz Marie’s Found Cottage Mercantile. It’s a big vintage market in Michigan. I found a set of vintage flatware that is silver. It appears to be art deco so it was perfect for this table setting.

I also got my lamp from Facebook Marketplace. I have seen something similar in photos but it probably wasn’t in the dining car. It would have probably been in a carriage car.

The dining cars had beautiful brass lamps with richly colored fabric shades.

Fashion in the 30s

There is a dress code on the Orient Express. The men typically dress in black tie and the women in formal cocktail attire.

Most of the women wore a hat and flapper dresses were all the rage. They wore hose (pre-pantyhose) with a seam up the back.

Since it was winter when the Murder on the Orient Express took place, I imagine the women wore mink stoles or mink stole scarfs.

The Virtual Book Club

What an adventure a book can be. It can take us on journeys that we might never be able to take any other way than in our imagination.

I’m so excited to be on this journey with my blogging friends.

I’m excited to share my culinary interpretation with you on Saturday.

Peace & Love,

Head over to Cindy, Crystal, and Erin’s posts to see their home decor inspiration from the book. Click on the link below their photographs to take you there.


Reinvented Delaware


Sweet Valley Acres


Erin Evolving

A great way to remember this article is to save it on one of your Pinterest boards. You can find the pin button in the top right corner of the photo below. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest


On the Podcast this week, I had the best chat with Julie who is an owner of a local home decor store. I get many of the accessories in my home from her shop.

We talk about so much including her insight into design trends she sees in 2023.

What's in My Shopping Cart

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  1. Fabulous post Lynn. I love your style. It is so cohesive and your photography is dreamy. You really took me back in time to such a luxurious era of travel. I am loving this Virtual Book Club and look forward to each month to come.

    1. Thank you Crystal! I’m so blessed to have such creative ladies on this journey with me!

  2. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this collab. So so fun. Your take is lovely, can’t wait to check out the rest of the girls.

    1. Thank you Regina! We are having so much fun. I’m anxious to see what we come up with in the months to come.

  3. Beautiful setting Lynn! The glassware is one of my faves. I absolutely love beautiful stemware. I’m looking forward to next month!

    1. I’m a bit of a sucker for pretty glassware too! I collected some gems for Annie’s wedding and now I have quite the supply!

  4. Hi Lynn – I love this idea of having a virtual book club! Of course an Agatha Christy novel is perfect for a book club. I love the china you shared – the gold details are stunning. Also I saw Cindy’s You Tube video where she made a little lamp light for the train table. You ladies are SO creative and fun to follow. Have a fabulous weekend.

    1. Thank you Anna! I got really lucky with my book club buddies and I can’t wait to see what we all come up with in the coming months.

  5. What a fabulous post, Lynn. I cannot believe how similar your table is to the original. I am so impressed you found that lamp. This is so fun. I can’t wait to read the other glass posts.

    1. Facebook Marketplace is a very cool place! 🙂

  6. So fun. Such a
    Clever idea to put the table in front of the window. The China is gorgeous! Happy Saturday, my friend.

    1. I had a blast putting the table together. I had just as much fun finding out about the train, the era and everything that would have been happening in the pages of the book.

  7. Your dining car table setting is beautiful, Lynn. I love how you sourced items based on your research and photos of the actual dining cars of the 1930s. I liked the section on fashion, too! You truly captured the essence of what it would have been like to dine on the Orient Express!
    I’m so happy to be joining you on this journey!

    1. Thank you so much Erin – I got so lucky when I fell into this idea and so lucky when our book club came together.

  8. Lynn, Your book club sounds so fun! This is such a fabulous idea! Your table looks just like I would imagine it to be on the train! I’m excited to follow you all on this journey!

    1. So far it has been so much fun and I’m having so much fun doing the research about the books, the era and everything about it!