The Art of the Engine Driver, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


There they are, still as a photograph, listening for the distant thud of the sun as it prepares to drop from the sky... On a hot summer's night, a family of three are off to a party in their bristling suburbia.

But nothing is as it seems and soon we are walking with them through the past lives of a bully, a drunk and a disaffected youth. As the story of the neighbourhood unfolds the old and the new, diesel and steam, town and country all collide - and nobody will be left unaffected.

The Art of the Engine Driver is a luminous and evocative take on ordinary suburban lives told with an extraordinary power and depth.


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Review by

Carroll has done a good job here of capturing the mood of Australia in the 1950s. But he's also done more than that - he's written about the relationships between the people in this story in a way that explores a truth which applies beyond that time, and even beyond Australia. Certainly, when Australian people of my vintage read this book they're likely to respond to it in a "I was there" kind of way. I'm really in the middle of Carroll's target demographic, so it's hard to judge how interesting this story would be for others. However, I did find that the people in the story are real characters with plenty of weaknesses and not many strengths. It's a gradually unfolding tragedy really, not just an historical image.The only thing I don't like so much about Carroll's trilogy (of which I've only read two so far) is that there seems to be almost a didactic if this was an Australian history & culture lesson.

Review by

Outer suburbia described in detail. Impending doom of Violet Town rail disaster. Background stories of the people living in the street combined into a well structured story - though I did wonder if they were ever going to get to the party with the walk down the road taking half the book. Not a hopeful book (but I know there is a sequel)