The Railwayman's Wife

The Railwayman's Wife

3.42 (1,850 ratings by Goodreads)
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In a small town on the land's edge, in the strange space at a war's end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

On the south coast of New South Wales, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway's library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank Draper is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman's Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It's a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 130 x 198 x 23mm | 298g
  • St Leonards, Australia
  • English
  • Main
  • 1743318359
  • 9781743318355
  • 280,480

Review quote

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. * The Age * Wishful, astringent and rewarding * Sydney Morning Herald * Beautifully rendered and psychologically acute. * Weekend Australian * [Hay's writing] recalls the sour-sweet best of Michael Ondaatje's fiction. Another author, Ford Madox Ford, began his The Good Soldier by claiming, "This is the saddest story." It isn't. That title rightly belongs to The Railwayman's Wife. * The Australian * Hay is a gifted and insightful writer; her prose is elegant and she has an eye for the telling detail. Most important, she understands people and the secret battles her characters face. * Adelaide Advertiser * An elegiac tale of love, loss and letting go, The Railwayman's Wife shimmers with grace. * The Newtown Review of Books * Her characters are illuminated by an incandescent intelligence and rare sensibility. * Australian Book Review * The Railwayman's Wife deals beautifully with loss, mourning, and consolation, on the part of two men returned from war service, and of a woman suddenly widowed. * Australian Book Review, Books of the Year * Ashley Hay's writing evokes a sense of reading a classic piece of literature where every word is stunningly placed and the briny smell of salty fog wafts into the room with the reader... An absolutely riveting book that I anticipate being a top pick for book clubs and one that will be mentioned alongside the greatest writers of our time. There is no kidding around in the abundance of my praise for Hay's writing. * Indie Next * 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 An absorbing and uplifting read. -- M.L. Stedman This is a book in which grief and love are so entwined they make a new and wonderful kind of sense. -- Fiona McFarlane 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 Magazine * 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. * Booklist *
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About Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay's first novel, The Body in the Clouds, was shortlisted for a number of prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the New South Wales and West Australian Premier's Awards. A former literary editor of The Bulletin, she contributes to a number of publications including The Monthly, Australian Geographic and The Australian.
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Rating details

1,850 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 14% (256)
4 35% (643)
3 35% (648)
2 13% (246)
1 3% (57)
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