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Review of The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay


About Railywayman’s Wife

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.

My Review

It took me quite a while to latch on to this story and even longer to figure out why when I finished.

Although I enjoyed Hay’s writing, at times I found it to be overly wordy and descriptive, beautiful but overdone, I’m sure this served as the main cause of not being absorbed from the beginning. At times the narrative moved at a snails pace forcing my patience.

Having poetry, writing and books a vital part of the narrative was wonderful, the ocean also played an important role. Hay’s fleshes out her characters as they deal with the aftereffect of loss, life and love. A moving story with empathetic characters despite the fact they come across as numb yet desperately trying to adjust to their new individual challenging circumstances.

The ending was predictable, it fit the depths of pain demonstrated.

Good book, just not great, evoking in a quietly stirring manner.

About Ashley Hay181102

Ashley Hay’s most recent novel, The Railwayman’s Wife, was released in Australia to critical acclaim in April 2013. It was published in the UK in January 2014. It won the Colin Roderick Prize (awarded by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies), as well as the People’s Choice award in the 2014 NSW Premier’s Prize. It was longlisted for both the Miles Franklin and Nita B. Kibble awards.

Her previous books span fiction and non-fiction and include Gum: The Story of Eucalypts and Their Champions (2002) and Museum (2007; with visual artist Robyn Stacey). Her first novel, The Body in the Clouds (2010), was shortlisted for categories in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the NSW and WA premier’s prizes, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

A writer for more than 20 years, she publishes regularly in Australian journals including The Monthly, Australian Geographic, and The Australian. Her essays and short stories have appeared in volumes including the Griffith Review, Best Australian Essays (2003), Best Australian Short Stories (2012), and Best Australian Science Writing (2012).

Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)

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