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I'm reading a book but the narrator's way of speaking is very sophisticated, making it difficult for me to understand what he's trying to convey at times.

I came across a sentence that I couldn't quite understand and I was wondering if somebody could tell me what it means.

The sentence is this:

"She thought everything was wonderful - I heard words to that effect in tones suggesting the lengthy application of a goods train's emergency brakes - but hadn't Gustav noticed just how sterile those white-painted walls made the flat look?"

I just don't understand how it went from trains to the color of the walls. If someone could help me that would be great-

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anonymousI'm reading a book ...

Please tell us the title and author of the book you are quoting from.

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anonymousShe thought everything was wonderful ... but (she asked) hadn't Gustav noticed just how sterile those white-painted walls made the flat look?

She thought everything was wonderful except the color on the walls.

anonymousthe lengthy application of a goods train's emergency brakes

The sound of a train applying its emergency brakes for a long time would be a deafening squeal that would seem to last forever.
(A goods train is a train that delivers goods, i.e., products, not passengers.)

anonymousShe thought everything was wonderful - I heard words to that effect in tones suggesting the lengthy application of a goods train's emergency brakes -

She thought everything was wonderful. (At least the words I heard suggested that that was what she thought. And the tone of her voice was about the same as the sound of a train applying its brakes for a long time.)

CJ