The Railwayman's Wife: Book summary and reviews of The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

The Railwayman's Wife

by Ashley Hay

The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay X
The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2016
    288 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

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.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Multilayered, graceful, couched in poetry, supremely honest, gentle yet jarring, Hay's thought-provoking novel pulls you along slowly, like a deep river that is deceptively calm but full of hidden rapids. Much to ponder." - Kirkus

"Hay handles the delicate progress of Ani's return to the world with sympathy and toughness; she is an author in whom intellectual scope and empathetic imagination are not separate activities but two sides of the same coin." - The Australian

"in this poignant rumination on life, death, memory, dreaming and the anxious spaces in between, it's hard to find fault with a single one of Hay's words, which speak to and provoke our deepest desires for literature to transform and heal us." - Sydney Morning Herald

"An absorbing and uplifting read." - M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

"Exquisitely written and deeply felt…a true book of wonders." – Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Secret Chord

"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

The information about The Railwayman's Wife shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)

The Railwayman's Wife
This is a well-crafted story. The quiet gentle prose belies the depth of issues and emotions that unfold as the characters cope with love and loss. Set against the backdrop of post World War II, the reader is transported to a different world. A war that happened thousands of miles away leaves its impact on a small town and individuals trying to cope in the aftermath. Ordinary lives are also inevitably touched by unexpected loss in different ways. The author makes the ordinary extraordinary through the characters and their interactions. A wonderful addition to all public libraries.

Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)

The Railwayman's Wife
This wasn't a page turner for me, but a slower paced read with parts that were so beautifully written that I often found myself rereading passages before continuing on with the story. The author's description of the setting of the book was almost poetic. Using flashbacks of Anil and Mac's life together gave a foundation for understanding the enormity of Anil's loss. Anil, as well as the doctor and the poet had all suffered losses and were dealing with them in different ways. As in real life, the events of that year and how things turned out could not have been foreseen. This is not a light read, but I would definitely recommend it to my friends who would appreciate a thoughtful, sensitive book.

Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)

An Australian Love Story
This is a very interesting and evocative look at life on the coast of New South Wales a few years after the end of the Second World War. The characters are very well drawn, and the story is a compelling one. There is romance, a bit of a mystery, poetry, and what we now call PTSD on the part of the men who survived and returned home after the War. An interesting story I would heartily recommend.

Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)

The Railwayman's Wife
I was drawn in to the characters' lives from the very first chapter of this book. It is a beautifully written, sometimes tragically told, tale of love and loss in ordinary lives after WWII. The underlying love story between Ani and Mac and their precocious daughter Isabella is uplifting, even in the midst of tragedy. The story takes a different perspective on the horrors of the war by showing how it affected the survivors who returned home with none of the systems that we have in place today to help them deal with the trauma. The phrasing and language in the book is wonderful to read, almost like the poetry that is pivotal to the tale. I found the book a pleasure to read because of that and because of the complexity of the characters. As a caution, this is not for readers who are looking for a happy ending in every story.

Mary M. (Dallas, TX)

A Beautiful Gift of a Story
The Railwayman's Wife is a gift of words beautifully spun together into a story you won't want to put down and at the same time a book you don't want to end.

Nancy L. (Zephyrhills, FL)

Memory and Loss
This lyrical post World War II novel, set on the coast of Australia, is a feast for the senses. We feel the steady pounding of the waves against the shore and the roaring beat as each train passes. We taste the salt on new bride Anil Lachlan's skin as she exits the ocean for the first time, and smell the soot and smoke of her husband Mac's trains as they pull into the station. and then there is the warmth of the sun on the hardwood floors. And through it all we hear the beautiful poetry of life. In many ways it is a love story, but it is also a story of the ironies of life, of taking chances, and of rebuilding one's life after disaster. There are beautifully written passages that took my breath away. I loved it!

...11 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Ashley Hay Author Biography

Photo: Nigel Beebe

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. Ashley is on the web at www.ashleyhay.com.au.

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