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Song of the Rails: A Love Story

By Helen Macie Osterman (Weaving Dreams Publishing, Watseka, Illinois, 2010, 251 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

Some say that one-sided love is better than none, but like half a loaf of bread, it is likely to grow hard and moldy sooner. Others, however, like Nietzsche, considered that indispensable…. To the lover is his unrequited love, which he would at no price relinquish for a state of indifference.

Helen Macie Osterman, the author of the Emma Winberry Mystery series, ventures in a different direction, that of a hopeless romantic, in her book Song of Rails: A Love Story. Admittedly, we all have that bit of hopeless romanticism in us, but Osterman takes it to another level as this master story-teller has written one of the most unforgettable love story in years.

Song of the Rails resonates with me, as I am sure that it will with other readers of this heartwarming book of romance, for it makes you believe you can find your soul mate – no matter your circumstances or your age. Many of us have had that Unrequited Love, but to find that true soul mate that Osterman writes about in her book, is rare.

This book is all about love and passion, from the vantage point of our later years in life, and is mindful of a book by Hal Vaughn; Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, in which Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is quoted as stating: “No Matter the age, a woman who is unloved is lost – unloved she might as well die.” This could easily have been quoted by the central character in Osterman’s book, Eve Moore, who packs a bag and walks away from an un-attentive, abusive and alcoholic husband – in the twilight years of her life, thinking that she might not ever experience true love again.

Set in my hometown area of Chicago, with many cited locations in the book that I am familiar with, this book struck a particular romantic nerve for me, for a number of reasons. Osterman really knows how to weave a story, full of romance and intrigue!

Eve meets Patrick O’Malley, who becomes the brother she never had. He helps her to resume her nursing career that she set aside so many years before, out of deference to her first husband, Samuel. One day Patrick disappears from her life with no explanation. Eve is devastated, but, with determination and help of friends, she picks up the threads of her existence and weaves them into a comfortable lifestyle. Through Patrick, Eve would later meet Paul Connor, a retired psychologist. They fall in love, although a long distance romance. This is where the plot thickens! Can Eve and Paul sustain a meaningful long distance relationship? Does their love transcend the limits of space? Is any love deep enough?

There are many poignant moments and anecdotes in this captivating story of rediscovery that will keep the reader turning the pages to its conclusion, with the reader vicariously living the life of Eve. To me, the most poignant passage in the book, is when the author stated: “But what did he know about Paul and me? What did anyone know about us? Just two old people keeping each other company during the twilight of their lives? No, it was much more than that, so much more. We were able to reach into each other’s very soul, to anticipate each other’s thoughts. When we were together, we complimented each other. We made a perfect whole. Now I was the empty half that remained.” Eve is speaking of a man, well into his eighties. If I was to compare this story to anything, It would be the movie, On Golden Pond.

This is a brilliant moving and tender story, that resonates with me for so many reasons, a book that I highly recommend.

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Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild and a writer and book reviewer with the East County Magazine, along with being the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago.”  Mr. Moore can be contacted at damien_brandy@yahoo.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.