Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Railwayman's Wife by Ashley Hay

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours/Netgalley
Read: April 17, 2016

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.

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Ashley Hay’s The Railwayman's Wife was a done deal the moment I read the blurb. I’m addicted to WWII and am utterly incapable of saying no when considering a novel that relates to the conflict. I jumped in at the first opportunity and was ultimately impressed by what I discovered between these pages.

The novel is reasonably paced and is in many ways well-suited to subtleties of the coastal village in which it is set. The dramatic twists of the novel are intensely personal and I liked how the author’s approach invited readers into the narrative. I personally would have liked more grit, but generally speaking, I can’t complain over the themes and ideas Hay’s explored over the course of the narrative.

The author does some interesting things with books and poetry as the story unfolds and I thought those concepts quite appealing. Book addicts are an interesting breed and I am always intrigued when an author tackles that love of literature and tries to capture the experience on the page. It’s almost like breaking the fourth wall and offering up a direct nod the audience.

Intimate and emotional, The Railwayman's Wife is a compelling tale of self-discovery, love, reinvention and life after loss. It’s definitely a lighter piece, but I found the time I spent with it pleasant and enjoyable.

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Such fascinating things, libraries. She closes her eyes. She could walk inside and step into a murder, a love story, a complete account of somebody else’s life, or mutiny on the high seas. Such potential; such adventure—there’s a shimmer of malfeasance in trying other ways of being.
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1 comment:

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Wow, this sounds terrific. I had to add it to my list!