Reading between the lines
Written by Christopher Awdry
After his imposed sabbatical from writing The Railway Series, Christopher Awdry entered a career in self-publication through his new company, Sodor Enterprises. In 2005, at a point when his contributions to the Railway Series were almost completely out of print during the 60th Anniversary of The Three Railway Engines, he wrote Sodor: Reading Between The Lines, which acts as a complimentary follow-up to The Island Of Sodor. As well as providing an overview of all 40 books (with the exception of The Twin Engines – a printing error), the book answers frequently asked questions and provides more recent exposition on the characters both human and machine.
Overview & Summary Written by R Healy
Sodor: Reading Between The Lines follows a similar line to The Island Of Sodor. Christopher Awdry proceeds to bring us back up to date with events that have taken place on the Island of Sodor, how his stories contributed to
the development of the Island the continuing timeline for the universe.
Similar to The Island Of Sodor, we are given a fuller stocklist for the railways of Sodor in the first major chapter, The Island and its Railways, with some omissions that his father and uncle put in the preceding book. Christopher does not go into the same level of detail that his father did about the Island’s industry, geography and history, although does touch upon it lightly within the character profiles he gives.
Characters In The Stories gives more relevant and interesting read, allowing fans of the books to find out how the lives of the people featured in the books have changed or developed throughout the course of the stories, and what has happened to them whilst the focus has been pulled away from the Railway Series.
Christopher goes on to answer questions he’s dealt most regularly when meeting members of the public in ‘Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered’. Christopher gives insight into why (at the time) the Railway Series could not be obtained in its entirety, his father’s other character – Belinda The Beetle, and why the Rev. Awdry put faces on the engines in his stories.
The real life inspirations behind the stories are discussed in The Stories, their Origins and Location section. This was one area that the Rev. Awdry did not delve into throughout The Island Of Sodor, and provides a definitive ‘Who, Why, What, Where and When’ for the entire Railway Series library, shedding light on where each story originated from and why. One glaring omission from the book was Book 15 – The Twin Engines which was missed entirely.
Finally, in Thomas – A Crown Worth Fighting For, Christopher addresses personal issues with the Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends TV series, and the way the Railway Series is treated by the current publishers, Egmont Books, who seem to shunt it to the sidings.