Read Railway Station Man by Jennifer Johnston Online


Helen has retreated to the remote Irish coast to be alone and to paint. In the railway station house nearby, English war hero Roger Hawthorne has settled. They find a deepening love for each other, but Helen, enjoying her first taste of happiness for years, is to learn how fleeting it can be. ...

Title : Railway Station Man
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670805938
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 187 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Railway Station Man Reviews

  • Paul
    2019-04-25 21:53

    4.5 starsThis is the first time I have read anything by Jennifer Johnston; she is a good writer and I should have read her before now. Johnston is Irish, born in Dublin and so, as you would expect The Troubles are a theme she works and reworks in a number of her novels. There is a good deal to interest in this novel, despite the fact it may seem at first quite slight. It is, in fact a romance, but between two protagonists in their 50s (I know, I’m in my 50s, but that isn’t the reason I read it!), both of whom have suffered significant losses. Helen is an artist who has moved to a remote seaside cottage since her husband was shot dead by the IRA, mistaken for someone else. Roger is English, a war hero who lost an arm and an eye at Arnhem. He has bought an old railway station and signal box, which he is restoring with the help of local lad Damian Sweeney. He has fled from his family who feel his mental health is unstable and want him locked away somewhere. The other main character is Helen’s son Jack who is studying in Dublin, but mixing with members of the republican movement. On the surface the main theme of the book is the relationship between Roger and Helen, but the romance part of it occupies only the last third and even then Helen strongly resists any possibility of commitment, wanting her own space. Helen espouses an individualism which says that the received wisdom that marriage is the best fulfilment for women is wrong. The whole is very much bound up in the landscape of the remote west of Ireland, which is almost the most significant character in the book. There is, underlying all this, a sense of division; despite what appears a serene surface there is menace underneath, which only surfaces at the shocking and explosive finale of the novel. Peace and tranquillity are transfigured by violence. At the beginning of the book Helen sets the tone;“Isolation. Such a grandiose word. Insulation. There was the connection in the dictionary staring me in the eye”Helen has isolated herself deliberately and tried to insulate herself from what is going on around her; not really seeing what is happening around her, even to her son. Johnston emphasises all this with the way she tells the story. The first and last chapters are told in the first person, but for the bulk of the novel the third person is used and this makes Helen seem more detached. The whole is a delicately balanced novel; something of a rural/seaside idyll, with a background of The Troubles (under the surface all the time), a fragile and unlikely romance and a strong and interesting main character in Helen. The reader knows something is coming at the end, as a number of threads begin to wind together. There is a 1990s film starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. A well-crafted novel with many layers.

  • Fictionophile
    2019-03-29 00:45

    I've been a fan of Jennifer Johnston's writing since I read her novel "Shadows on our skin" back in 2014.  Since then I've tried to read one of her books every year.I've chosen "The railway station man" as my first read of the 2018 Reading Ireland challenge.  Originally published in 1984, it was republished in 2014 by Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.This is a slow-paced, brilliantly written novel about a 50 year-old woman who has seen a lot of tragedy in her life.  Helen Cuffe is solitary by choice. She lives on the West Coast of Ireland on a hillside overlooking the sea. She divides her time between her cottage, and the 'studio/shed' out back where she does her painting."I'm not lonely you know, just alone. I like to live on the edge of things."Accompanied only by 'the cat', she often spends her days in her dressing gown, smoking copiously. She does not name him - she calls him 'cat' and they have a love-hate relationship - though they seem to understand each other. Cat liked to sleep in Helen's bed like a human being with his head on the pillow. Also, he like to walk on the kitchen table and eat the butter out of the dish."Your cat? She nodded. "Well... really I'm his human being. You know what cats are like."On the same hillside as Helen's cottage is a derelict railway station. Uninhabited, the building and the accompanying signal box and storage barn remain grim reminders of four men who died there.Helen was once married. Her husband, Daniel Cuffe, a mathematics teacher, was shot in 1975 during 'The troubles'.  They had two children. Jack who thrived, and a little girl who died in infancy."It is a curious reflection on more than twenty years of marriage that all I remember with clarity was the ending of it."Peculiarly, Helen felt no sense of true loss when her husband was killed. Instead she felt a feeling of relief, of liberation. She acknowledges that she 'should' feel guilty for feeling this way - instead she decided that there was no point in guilt.  Instead, she moves from Derry to her hillside cottage on the West coast. She paints - she talks to herself."It's strange how one person's words sound so loud in an empty room. They resound, unlike a conversation which seems to become absorbed by the surrounding objects."Helen is not close to her son Jack. He is quite fond of his paternal grandmother and lives in Dublin with her whilst he attends Trinity College. A very clever young man, he visits his mother only sporadically, and seems disapproving of her lifestyle."I think there are so many things inside each of us that we don't want to say, and that other people don't want to hear."Helen's story is told, by her, with memory flashbacks of the year that an Englishman bought the derelict railway station intending to bring the station back to life.  Seriously injured during the 'war', Roger Hawthorne has only one arm, and one eye. He hires a local lad to help him 'do up' the station.As the two solitary individuals Helen and Roger come to know one another, they fall in love."I don't want to love anybody. I don't want the burden of other people's pain. My own is enough."Meanwhile, Jack has a very unsavory acquaintance in Dublin. He enlists Jack as a messenger for the 'Movement'.."I mourn the needless dead."This is a very melancholy novel.  It is a testament to the superior writing skills of Jennifer Johnston that the reader, though forewarned that the story would end in tragedy, remains glued to the pages so that they can find out how it happened...Helen is a character that I identified with. She was very 'real' to me and I don't think I will forget her anytime soon.Highly recommended, quality literary fiction written by a master in her craft.I purchased a Kindle copy of this novel for my own reading entertainment.4.5 stars rounded up

  • Angela Young
    2019-04-24 03:56

    It is in the details that Jennifer Johnston excels, the details that tell so much more because they engage the reader's imagination (something - in my opinion - the best novels always do) so that we fill in what isn't written for ourselves and understand the characters and their motives so much better, so much more vividly than if every detail was spoon-fed to us. It is just the same, I feel, in life. If there's no mystery to unravel, if every detail about another is known, then what's left? The need for a little mystery is essential because it makes us wonder and wonder makes us curious and curiosity keeps us properly alive and interested, fascinated, by the other.In The Railway Station Man as described on Johnston's British Council page: : ‘Fat Mrs O’Sullivan was running the hoover over the sitting-room floor … she wore old tennis shoes without laces as she worked, to ease the pressure on her bunions’.You can picture her instantly, can't you?And again this short novel (187 pages) stays long in the mind and in the heart. And again there is an ending that shocks. Brilliant.

  • Diane
    2019-04-23 02:49

    Rereading the first chapter I realized how carefully Johnston crafted plot and character. Even though the plot builds toward the disaster that the reader knows is coming, is fated--still the end is shocking. There are neither heroes nor sentimentality here.

  • Kotai Gyuri
    2019-03-29 02:43

    Humanitas fiction

  • Js100
    2019-04-23 04:49

    Helen's husband Dan has been killed in the Troubles, in error, and she has retreated to the West coast of Eire,where she has an isolated existence in a small village. The shadow of the Troubles hang over the story. She is vague, disorganised, addicted to cigarettes. Johnston portrays her inner monologue very well, as she faces the return of Jack her estranged , neo Marxist son from Trinity. Her first meeting with the railway station man, the eccentric and well off Roger Hawthorne, war injured and solitary, who is restoring the abandoned station, doesn't go well. The growing attraction between the pair is beautifully portrayed, two lonely hearts finally meshing, but not committing. There are leitmotivs, the movie High Noon, cigarettes, the old record player, painting , as she revives her long buried aspirations as an artist. A little slow to start , it is more a novella than a full blown novel. Firmly placed in time and setting, the lead characters are sympathetic and universal. I greatly enjoyed it years ago, and recommended it to my book group. There is also a film quite faithful , I recall.

  • A. Mary
    2019-04-12 03:47

    Johnston returns to the Troubles again and again, but she never writes the same story. Here, she delicately weaves a plot that requires the intersection of a number of lives. The disparate strands arrive in the same place and the braiding begins, the plait growing as the parts gently cross, diverge, and return, until the tight know at the end. For much of the book, although a reader knows something bad is going to happen, it isn't clear exactly what or exactly whom will be there when it happens. The characters engage, especially Helen and Damian, for me, although Roger, as well. Not all of the characters know what's going on, of course, and that adds to the tension, the gift of dramatic irony. I felt a twinge when Damian says he's going to build his boat in the shed. Little remarks, little decisions, and the story takes a leap, like life. And in the end, Jack behaves like a petulant child, and derails everything. A dramatic event is rendered somewhat slapstick, as a result, and the point is that this is how it happens. Sometimes with a bang and a whimper.

  • Patricia
    2019-04-18 05:47

    Found this at home--must have got it in a charity shop. What I call a None book. I read it because it was there. It was well written and there was some good description. However the story theme was not gripping for me and i didn`t feel a sense of loss when I finished it , like I do with some books. It will go back to the charity shop!!

  • Robin
    2019-03-31 05:57

    Can't remember a whole lot about this book, except that my Contemporary Irish Literature Professor was a total d***. That probably dropped its rating by a star. I know Donald Sutherland goes down on Julie Christie in the film adaptation. And he has one arm.

  • Jesi
    2019-04-14 03:44

    I've read two of Johnston's novels now, and both of them have felt a little slight to me -- beautifully drawn but not quite fully realized. Still, there's just something about the way her characters look at the world that really resonates with me. And also, I identified very strongly with Helen.

  • Tyas Effendi
    2019-04-21 01:46

    Buku bahasa Inggris pertama yang kubaca dan membuatku jatuh cinta. Wow, I love Jennifer Johnston so much!

    2019-04-02 00:42

    beautifully written simple human story.

  • Heather
    2019-04-04 05:39

    Poorly edited, but masterfully crafted.

  • David Vanness
    2019-04-04 22:45

    Would have scored it a 2 1/2 star but that violates the rules.While wading thru much of it, I found the later-part of relationship of Helen & Roger well written and enjoyable.

  • Ali Miremadi
    2019-04-16 01:02

    My third Jennifer Johnston, and another one which drags a solitary eccentric character back into the world. Enjoyable but not the same level of achievement as 'The Captains..." or "The Old Jest".

  • John
    2019-04-17 00:58

    Not bad. A strong ending. There is a movie version with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland and Donnie looks like the most ridiculous person ever.

  • Aisling
    2019-04-26 00:42

    Another superb story from a consummated master of her craft.I love the way Johnston builds her characters and though I know this will end in tragedy still the ending when it arrives shocked me.