Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

02_The Railwayman's Wife
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.

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

"There's some comfort in seeing things go on: birds keep singing, buses keep running.  But if you want those things to continue, perhaps you have to accept that the other kinds of things, unhappier, even horrific ones, will continue too.  And that's harder."

One of the things that drew me to this book was the location, New South Wales, Australia.  I don't visit (via reading) down under much but jump whenever I can get the chance.  There is a wealth of wonderful authors from Australia and I'd hate to miss out.

The Railwayman's Wife is a story of love, lose and how to carry on.  The author's writing was descriptive and it wasn't hard to visualize the scenery. The tone of this book was quiet and understated, not a lot of action but gave off that feeling of grief and people struggling to heal.

Taking place years after the conclusion of WW II there are many war widows around but Ana isn't one of them, her husband has died at home and she struggles to fit in. But there is also Frank Draper and Roy McKinnon back from the war with their own baggage of guilt and adjusting to what used to be a normal life.  Ashley Hay's pose is smooth and who gracefully takes the reader on a journey through, guilt, grief and self discovery.

Praise
“Hay immerses the reader in Mac and Ani’s relationship, splicing flashbacks to happier times into the central narrative. Hay’s poetic gifts are evident in her descriptions of the wild coastal landscape and Roy’s measured verse. This poignant, elegant novel delves into the depth of tragedy, the shaky ground of recovery, and the bittersweet memories of lost love. Fans of Jodi Daynard and Susanna Kearsley will adore this.” -Booklist “Hay has lovingly crafted a poignant, character-driven novel filled with heartache and hope, which is transferred to the reader through lyrical prose, poetic dialogue and stunning imagery.” -RT Book Reviews

 “Hay is both cerebral and emotional in portraying life's catastrophes and the way people cope. As if her message is too raw to lay out in blazing color, she camouflages it in poetry and half-seen images—and it works. The message is clear, and the shocks are softened but no less there. 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

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

03_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.


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