Cover image for The rail
The rail
Owen, Howard, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Sag Harbor, NY : Permanent Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
239 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Before he let his life fall apart, James 'Neil Beauchamp was special. He lived and flourished in the world of privilege, adored and accommodated.Then, before he truly learned to appreciate it, the one talent that lifted him from a small life in a small town was gone. The only thing worse than spending your life earthbound, Neil would learn, is landing hard and knowing you'll never fly again.Born in Penns Castle, in the castle itself, he was a prince of sorts. But when his mother left the castle with him in tow, he lost everything, even his name. He seemed destined for a life as a shopkeeper's barely tolerated stepson.That's when baseball presented itself and saved him. For what Neil could do was hit. Through some combination of reflexes, vision, and coordination, the lean and supple Virginia Rail turned the game of his childhood into the driving force of his life. Before he was through, he would win batting championships and be elected to the Hall of Fame.Yet before his talent failed, he already was failing those closest to him. His wife and son suffered from being outside his field of vision too much of the time. Then, with his career over well before his 40th birthday, everything collapsed. The final crash, with his half-sister Blanchard beside him in the car, the crash that sent him to prison, was seen by most who knew him as the inevitable landing at the end of a very long fall.On the day he was paroled, he was met at the prison gates by his son David, the last person Neil expected to see, and returned to the castle -- from which he was banished as a child -- and to Blanchard, a woman of tenuous mental balance.Neil is looking for some way to make amends. And hisson, who will learn things about Neil he never would have guessed, still wants to salvage something out of their mutual wreckage.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his sixth novel, Owen (Fat Lightning; Harry & Ruth) draws on 20 years of experience as a newspaper sports editor to fashion a touching story of fathers, sons and baseball that emphasizes the irrevocable ties of blood. Neil Beauchamp was born to luxury he lived in an actual castle but when he was a child, his mother took him and ran; he even lost his name when his mother married a gruff, marginally successful merchant. Though Neil's baseball talent brings him both wealth and fame, his ego, his lack of business acumen and his fondness for drink bring him down. Already alcoholic and bankrupt when his car strikes and kills a state trooper, the Hall of Famer formerly known as the Virginia Rail goes to prison. As the novel opens, Neil's at rock bottom. He was a lousy husband and a distant father, but upon his release, he is met by his son, David, who's about the last person he expects to see. David, nearing 40, is himself in crisis: he's lost his journalism job in Washington, D.C., and he fears that his marriage is failing and that his wife is having an affair. From prison, David takes Neil back to the castle of his youth, where Neil's half-sister, Blanchard who's mildly unbalanced to say the least has promised to help him start over. Neil wants to make amends, but struggles to figure out how, while David discovers truths about his father that he never could have anticipated. The pace is leisurely, the revelations apt and unexpected and the coverage of professional baseball rings absolutely true. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved