Book review: The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay

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Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher:  Atria Books
Hardcover, eBook, & AudioBook
288 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary

Book description:

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.

“Exquisitely written and deeply felt…a true book of wonders.” –Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TheSecret Chord

“An absorbing and uplifting read.” –M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

“This is a book in which grief and love are so entwined they make a new and wonderful kind of sense.” –Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

f610eae8-b6a1-42d4-91c0-ffecba3fa633Meet the author:   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.

REVIEW:

The Railwayman’s Wife justly deserves praise  for it’s lovely prose.  Ashley Hay’s depiction of a young family in NSW, Australia during and after the second world war is particularly touching.  The war has not left their town untouched as it has taken away many of its fathers and husbands.  Although, Annika feels for these women, it is not until her husband Mac is killed in a railway accident that she fully begins to comprehend the grief and loss of someone she loved.

Several main characters form part of this storyline.  Roy, a poet and former teacher is lost and foundering after returning home from the war and Frank, a medical doctor who deals with his feelings of inadequacy as a healer is unable to make a commitment to the woman he loves.  And there is Isabelle, Annika’s daughter who must learn to live without her father but who’s pragmatic view of the events around her teach Annika that there is life beyond grief.

As their lives intertwine, the healing that comes from finding contentment in  friendship, the joys of nature and the love of a good book help to put to rest the memories of war and grief.

 

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