In post-World War II Thirroul, Australia, Annika Lachlan has grown a life that, to her, is perfect. In the years since the war, she and her family have found peace and purpose. But when her husband, Mac, is killed in a tragic accident, she must raise their daughter on her own, as two more grieving people in the postwar world. Annika accepts a job at the Railway Institute’s Library, searching there between the pages for a new meaning for her life.
Local poet Roy McKinnon is also searching for meaning in pages and words; during the war, he was prolific, sorting through the high emotions of the time by penning lines. In the years since it ended, however, he has found himself unable to find his voice and the inspiration that came so easily in the chaotic years. Meanwhile, local doctor Frank Draper just wants things to go back to the way they were before the war, but is haunted by the people he couldn’t help, despite his efforts: survivors of Nazi concentration camps.
The Railwayman’s Wife is a three-pronged story that explores life, grief, and how to cope with the intersection of the two, written in a sweeping, if at times overly lyrical, style that conveys the breadth of emotions the characters feel. Brisbane-based author Ashley Hay has published four nonfiction books and the novel The Body in the Clouds, and The Railwayman’s Wife received the Colin Roderick Award when it was published in Australia. While exploring how three different people experience life after war and loss, The Railwayman’s Wife uses beautiful prose and empathetic characters to tell a story of both hope and heartache.