- 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
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.
“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.
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This giveaway opportunity is open until noon, central time, on Wednesday, May 18th.
Monday, April 18
Review at #redhead.with.book
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Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
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Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
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Spotlight & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
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Review at Ashley LaMar
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Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
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