Review From User :
I couldn't remember why I wanted to read this book, by the time I opened it. What the heck got into me for choosing it in the first place, I was thinking, when it was clear from the start that we were sinking fast into the dungeons of the gritty, bleak misery of life in the psycho-dumps. Emotionally I still needed cozy, feel-goodness on pages. Escapism à la the extreme. I was simply not ready for this book.
I wanted to close it and choose another book, but instinctively I knew that I wouldn't want to return to it. Okay then, I thought after the first 150 pages, let's go for the half way mark to be fair, and then decide. Some ten hours later, of which about four were sleep-deprived, I closed the book with absolute wonderment pouring from my soul. I knew, for sure, that this will be an unforgettable story. One of those soul-reapers that left the reader drained, emotionally down and out, sort of. The Cloudstreet Ripper, it could be called.
But no, that was not the case at all. In the end, I was dancing with joy and merriment on the blankets by the river alongside the Lambs and Pickles with a song on the lips and a sad grand finale lurking in the corners of my soul. The familiarity of the accordion jubilee, performed by Lester Lamb, chasing off the realities of life into the abysses of their doom, clung to my memory forever. Just like life itself. The good and bad. Heartbreaking and heartwarming. The Cloudstreet definition of happiness.
Cloudstreet no. 1. Perth. Australia. It was the address of the grand old dilapidated, sprawling mansions with its gigantic rooms, 20 bedrooms, one bathroom, and an outhouse for the rest. It was Joel's gift to Sam and Donna Pickles upon his death. It was one of those deaths in which Sam's bad luck took the center stage, after he already lost four fingers in the machinery at a factory and his family were already resident in the back rooms of Joel's bar. Stuck with the old colossal dumb for twenty years before it could be sold, gambling Sam and Dolly the drunk had no other choice but find a way to keep it standing. Prospering was not in the works for both the house or the family. Ted, Rose and Chub were the unfortunate young children to call Sam and Dolly their parents for the rest of their lives. They refused to be on the dole, with Sam unable to work with only one hand. Yet, they had a plan.
In moved the Lambs. Lester and Oreil with their six remaining off-springs. Fish, the oldest, and Quick the second oldest, with four others siblings as peripheral characters in the tale. Cloudstreet no. 1 became a divided house. On the one side was the 'prosperous' Lambs with their shop on the ground floor, with Oriel beating the drum to the family's marches, and Lester baking his way to a better living, with his secret ice cream recipe luring the customers from far and wide. On the other side was Dolly Pickles, who missed spreading her legs in the bar hovels far away in their hometown, and Sam Pickles pressing his luck all around. He was a born loser and kind of proud of the fact. Bad luck was truly a gift.
The hall between the two sides was the no-mans-land. Neutral ground. For twenty years, between the 1940s- and '60's it was a silent, impenetrable barrier. It was as though luck defined it. It was as though luck made choices, that it could think. If you greeted it, it came to you; if you shunned it, it backed away. The old grand dame of dilapidation had her own story to tell. The music room at the end of the hall, was a dark, moldy room with no windows, no light. It was the place where the old wealthy woman died in solitude, with her nose stuck to middle C on the piano when she was eventually found.
Fish was the only one who could hear middle C monotonously toggling itself through the darkness of the haunted story of the music room. Fish could hear it. Fish talked to the piano, he played it, protect its secrets, consoled it. As he could hear the pig talking in the back yard; as he could see the shadows of children dancing around a fire out in the bush. As he could hear the water creatures calling his name. Fish lived in his own world, after he was saved from drowning and declared a miracle by his Gawd-fearing parents, Oriel and Lester. Ever since that incident, Fish only returned half way back to the world. The rest of it got stuck in his silent reflections, while staring at the ceiling in his room. And Lester and Oriel waved Gawd good bye for the next twenty years.
It was only after reading the ending that the secret of this book hit me between the eyes. The real narrator was revealed, with here and there some tips in the book, that there actually was a secret narrator. 'Dumbfoundingly' brilliant, it overturned every single conclusion I came to all through the tale of the two families battling life and each other out in picturesque, emotionally-charged prose. Each character wrote their own life stories in the tale. Each layer of the plot was well-defined, but one layer remained hidden ...
It was only at the very end, that I wanted to bawl my eyes out. Because the hardship of the two Australian working-class families was the main focus, but the tragedy laid in the effect it had on the anonymous narrator. And to realize who it was in the end, ripped my heart out completely. Shell-shocked. Overwhelmed.
Although the book did not feature as a mystery, it was certainly one of the most outstanding ones I have ever read. When the accordion and convivial celebrations died away, I was left with tears rolling down my face, drowning the smile right around my head. Remember Luck It made choices. Never forget that.
Cloudstreet is simply a brilliant book!
Hailed as a classic, Tim Winton’s masterful family saga is both a paean to working-class Australians and an unflinching examination of the human heart’s capacity for sorrow, joy, and endless gradations in between. An award-winning work, Cloudstreet exemplifies the brilliant ability of fiction to captivate and inspire.
Struggling to rebuild their lives after being touched by disaster, the Pickle family, who’ve inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. From 1944 to 1964, the shared experiences of the two overpopulated clans – running the gamut from drunkenness, adultery, and death to resurrection, marriage, and birth – bond them to each other and to the bustling, haunted house in ways no one could have anticipated.