by Tim Winton
We all loved this wonderful novel. I came across it when I was in Australia and I'm surprised, considering Tim Winton's other successes, how little publicity it's had in this country.
It tells the story of two families who, prompted by personal disaster, move to the city from the country and share the monstrous house that is number 1, Cloud Street. On one side of the house are the Pickles - one-handed Sam, a compulsive gambler, his wife, Dolly, and their children, Ted, Chub and the lovely Rose who wants to starve herself into invisibility. On the other side are the Lambs - Oriel and Lester (known to the townspeople as 'Lest we forget') and their children, Elaine, Red, Quick (who is anything but) and Fish. For twenty years we follow their blighted lives until, by sheer resilience, they manage to shake off the 'shifty shadow' of bad luck that seems to have fallen across them and learn to love the house in Cloud Street and each other.
In a language that is an extraordinary offbeat mixture of lyrical description and coarse vernacular, Winton depicts the harsh world that was post-war Australia so convincingly that you begin to breathe the bush-hot air and smell the murky Swan river. It's funny and tragic without being sentimental and it's the sort of book that keeps you reading while your supper's burning and leaves you feeling bereft when it ends.
Read our 2008 interview with Tim Winton.
"I'm really pleased you all enjoyed Cloudstreet - I
thought it was just because I live here that I loved it. Have you tried
Dirt Music? It's absolutely beautiful."
Lisa Trigg (Sydney, Australia.)