Book review: The Railwayman's Wife

BOOK: The Railwayman's Wife
AUTHOR: Ashley Hay
PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin Aust
RRP: $29.99

ONCE in a while a book moves you to your very soul; for me the first was Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones and now I now just read another.

The Railwayman's Wife is a beautifully scripted story that will long stay with you.

The characters are flawed, damaged and looking for answers.

Set in 1948, the residents of Thirroul on the NSW coast are learning to live again after years of war.

But what should be a time of happiness soon turns to despair for Annika Lachlan. Her world is turned upside down when her husband is killed in a work accident and she is left to raise her daughter on her own.

Annika turns to local doctor Frank Draper, who feels guilt that his medical knowledge wasn't enough to save concentration camp survivors. Dr Draper is also helping a returned soldier come to terms with his post traumatic stress. As nightmares haunt his dreams Roy McKinnon finds solace in writing poetry.

The Railway Institute Library where Annika is offered a job brings these people together. It is a place where they can lose track of time and hurt; it is a place to rebuild their dreams.

And as Annika discovers she didn't know her husband Mac completely, she begins a journey of healing.

This is a story that is often tragic but also hopeful and what will strike you is how beautiful and lyric the writing is.

Emotionally charged this wonderful story is tender, melancholy and moving, dealing with love and loss and coming to terms with the hand fate deals us.

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