I'm on a bit of a Tim Winton kick at the moment. For years after reading - and loving - "Cloudstreet". I ignored his work. Now it seems that I can't get enough of it. And yet, for some of the time I was listening to the audiobook version of this novel, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It has everything that I love about Winton's writing: down-to-earth Australian English, realistic dialogue, flawed and complex characters, rich symbolism, striking imagery and a strong connection with the natural world. However, there were times when the pace lagged and I wasn't sure where Winton was taking his characters. It all came together at the end in a way that made me hold my breath, but it did take rather a long time to get there.
The ending of the novel is ambiguous, but I was in an optimistic mood when I finished listening and I chose to interpret what happened in a positive way. Maybe that's just because I’d become very attached to the central characters, Lu and Georgie, and I wanted them to find what they'd been looking for.
The audiobook was narrated reasonably well - although not brilliantly - by Suzi Dougherty. While I didn’t mind listening to her, I won’t be going out of my way to listen to her narrating anything else. I also formed the impression that she may have been given an American edition of the novel to read. Unless there’s something about Western Australian idioms of which I’m completely unaware, I can’t imagine that Tim Winton would refer to a mobile phone as a cell phone, or to a filing cabinet as a file cabinet.
This is a flawed, but still a powerful and haunting work - a 4.5 star read. Lu and Georgie are going to stay with me for a long time.