#Bibliotica reviews The Railway Man’s Wife, by Ashley Hay

About the book, The Railway Man’s Wife The Railway Man's Wife

  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
    Publisher: Atria Books, 288 Pages
  • Format: Hardcover, eBook, & AudioBook; 288 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary

Amidst the strange, silent aftermath of World War II, a widow, a poet, and a doctor search for lasting peace and fresh beginnings in this internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel.

When Anikka Lachlan’s husband, Mac, is killed in a railway accident, she is offered—and accepts—a job at the Railway Institute’s library and searches there for some solace in her unexpectedly new life. But in Thirroul, in 1948, she’s not the only person trying to chase dreams through books. There’s Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, but who has now lost his words and his hope. There’s Frank Draper, trapped by the guilt of those his medical treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle to find their own peace, and their own new story.

But along with the firming of this triangle of friendship and a sense of lives inching towards renewal come other extremities—and misunderstandings. In the end, love and freedom can have unexpected ways of expressing themselves.

The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

Buy, read, and discuss The Railway Man’s Wife

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About the author, Ashley Hay Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of four nonfiction books, including The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, and the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

For more information please visit Ashley Hay’s website.

 


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

“This is how you touch grief.” Ani Lachlan’s thought a short while after hearing of her husband’s work-related death rocked me in a way that few sentences have. So much so that as I read the line, I texted it to a friend.

Ani is the railway man’s wife, but she’s also a book lover, a reader, mother to an adorable young girl, Isabelle, and a woman who, like most of us, possesses more inner strength than she at firest realizes. This novel is really her story, and I found it quite easy to connect with her, and her life in a coastal village in Australia.

Early in the novel  – chapter two – Ani and Mac are on a shopping trip, and their last item to purchase is “something magical” for their daughter’s birthday. They choose a kaleidoscope, and I can’t help feeling that this story was also a kaleidoscope of sorts, in that everything happens within a constrained set of parameters, in a close town, within a relatively few changes of scene, despite the emotional twists and turns. Yes, it’s a satisfying 288 pages, but it’s a literary novel, so it’s okay that this lyrical story never explores much beyond the town limits, or that we only really see a few locations. It’s not about place, anyway, it’s about people, and they way they respond to love, loss, grief, and solace.

Author Ashley Hay works magic, populating her pages with people who leap of the page. Ani, of course, and Mac, her husband. While we don’t really get to see a lot of them before he dies, what we do see is so emotionally truthful that I reacted to news of his death with that visceral knife-in-the-gut feeling. Their love for each other, and for their daughter, is imbued in every page of the story. Similarly, the characters of Roy, the WWII veteran who writes poetry to process his pain, and Frank, who is carrying his own guilt and hurt, felt dimensional and real. I believed their dual gravitation toward the (sort of) oblivious about it Ani.

The post-war coastal Australia setting worked well for me – a story like this needs to be set against the blue expanse of the sea.

This is a story about grief and loss and love and hope, and while it is both literary and historical, its themes are universal ones, and it feels contemporary in terms of language and style, but not in an anachronistic way.

This is a novel that touched me.

I think it will touch you, too.

Goes well with a bowl of clam chowder, crusty bread, and a mug of brisk, black tea.


Giveaway The Railway Man's Wife

One lucky reader in the United States will win a paperback copy of this book. To enter, find me on Twitter, follow me, and retweet my tweet about this book review OR leave a comment here (you must use a valid email address) and tell me about your favorite library.

The winner will be chosen by me, and their information will be forwarded to the tour host/publicist for fulfillment. This may take up to six weeks after the day of the end of this blog tour.

This giveaway opportunity is open until noon, central time, on Wednesday, May 18th.


Railway Man's Wife Blog TourBlog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 18
Review at #redhead.with.book

Tuesday, April 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Wednesday, April 20
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, April 25
Review & Giveaway at Poof Books
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, April 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 27
Review at Ashley LaMar

Monday, May 2
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 3
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Thursday, May 5
Review & Giveaway at Bibliotica

Friday, May 6
Review at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, May 23
Giveaway at Passages to the Past

 

 

 

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 #Bibliotica reviews The Railway Man’s Wife, by Ashley Hay by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

One thought on “#Bibliotica reviews The Railway Man’s Wife, by Ashley Hay

  1. My favorite library was a captivating escape for me. The atmosphere, the historical importance and the treasures which were available meant so much to me. I could peruse the shelves for hours and I did. I could visit the library several times a week and never tire of the beauty and the architecture which I appreciated. The Carnegie Library which I miss was my favorite haunt for many years.

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