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The Railwayman's Wife

The Railwayman's Wife 1

by Ashley Hay

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 28/05/2014

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $22.99 $21.50

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.

In Thirroul, 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, 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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Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
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Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay's work includes fiction, narrative non-fiction, journalism, essays and reviews. Her novels have been longlisted for awards including the Miles Franklin and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and shortlisted for categories in the WA Premier's Prize, the NSW Premier's Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, as well as the Nita B. Kibble Award.

Her second novel, The Railwayman's Wife, was awarded the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies, and also won the People's Choice at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. It was also published in the UK, the US and in translation.

A former literary editor of The Bulletin she contributes to journals including The Monthly and Griffith Review. Her work has won awards in Australia, the UK and the US, and has been anthologised in collections including Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Science Writing, and Best Australian Short Stories.

She was editor of Best Australian Science Writing 2014 and was awarded the 2015 Dahl Trust/ABR Fellowship, for which essay she won the 2016 Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.

She lives in Brisbane.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • An absolute pleasure to read.

    by on

    The Railwaymans Wife is the second novel by Australian author, Ashley Hay. It is set in Thirroul, on the south coast of New South Wales, in 1948. Living in post-war New South Wales with her husband, Mackenzie and her ten-year-old daughter, Isabel, Anikka Lachlan counts herself fortunate to have survived the war without the losses suffered by so many. But then Mac, a railwayman, is killed in a train accident, and Anis life suddenly becomes unrecognisable. She is offered a job in the Railway Institute Library, where she encounters many of the villages residents including the frequently abrasive war veteran, Dr Frank Draper, the often dismissive Iris McKinnon and her rather shy brother, Roy, a published war poet. Hays narrative switches between events that immediately precede Macs death and the year that follows, and flashbacks to significant fragments of Ani and Macs history. Ani discovers a Mac she barely recognises from chance bits of conversation and second-hand anecdotes, (Theres an anxious space between not knowing if youve forgotten something, or if you never knew.) but also finds that life goes on. Hays second novel, like her first, is filled with beautiful prose, so that locals of the area will be doubly delighted with the depiction of the paradise they call their own. And then theres the air, the nor-easters that play along the shoreline; the westerlies that dump fractious moods over the edge of the escarpment; the smoky draughts in late spring and summer that telegraph bushfires and then spur them on. There are soft sea breezes that tease and tickle with lightest scent of salty water. There are southerly busters, powerful fronts that push up the coast to break open the heat of the daythey smell clean and crisp, and Ani pushes her nose hungrily into hot afternoons in search of their coming and Her blond hair so bright, it looked lit from within and ..the afternoons light hits that point before sunset where it softens and swells sometimes into a few minutes of rounder, warmer illumination. Through the window, the greens of the trees thicken slightly; the shadows lengthen, and the sky takes on a fuller shade of blue. The mountain, diminished at midday, surges again to its full height; the clouds flare a brighter white are but a few examples. Hay expertly renders the feel of the late forties in a small Australian coastal village; her characters have depth and appeal; her dialogue is credible and the plot contains hope and heartache in equal measure. An absolute pleasure to read.