The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935
Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present day
Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken. When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past.

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I know from reading previous writing by Kathleen McGurl, that it deserves my full focus. I get drawn into another world and appreciate and enjoy full immersion.
While fully deserving of the label women's fiction or romance, this book is much more than that. There is intrigue, several mysteries to be unraveled, and history revealed.
Parallels between the different eras in this book come alive and make the reader also look at their own life. A wonderful escape read that is very satisfying.

When we meet Tilly, she is recovering from harsh realities of life. For a time she has trouble coping and makes poor choices, believing she has no choice of her own. Not wanting to disappoint or take advantage of those she cares about in life, she takes small steps to do something differently. Tiny steps, but forward steps. Soon she finds herself curious, drawn into a story decades old and a mystery.
She meets an older woman who stands between Tilly's father and forward movement of his own goals, his own way of dealing with a tragedy. Tilly strives to find out what has caused this woman to be embittered, and also to solve a mystery regarding the train station. I do not want to give away much plot because I enjoyed the way it gradually unfolded.

Ms. McGurl's development of characters is natural and I think each of us will interpret them individually. I think different readers will view Annie in different lights. I saw her as somewhat manipulative, but perhaps this was just her own way of lashing out at life's injustices. 
Ted is a gentle soul but may also have been on the autism spectrum, not recognized in his time period. I am grateful he lived during a time of supportive family, yet he managed quite well on his own. There is much here to be discussed and considered. This makes for an excellent book club selection.

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
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