©2002 Tim Winton; (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
AudioFile Earphones Award, Exceptional Audio Performance, 2004
"One of those rare novels that warm the heart, as well as spark the imagination." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Peter Hosking's performance is true to Winton's unsentimental exploration into humankind's ability to love and survive amid adversity....His characterizations, including an aboriginal ghost and a talking pig, are earthy, real, and frequently hilarious." (AudioFile)
Dysfunctional Families Australian Style
Those words are the best I can come up with to depict this book. There are two families living in one house on Cloudstreet near Perth, Australia. This house and these families become the center attraction of the entire neighborhood. Both families are of the working class; in fact they are lucky if they even have a job. The time period is 1944-1964, so the end of the war and the hard times that followed determine the setting. Life is hard; it is a struggle. Booze, gambling, promiscuity, adultery, child abuse, anorexia and children with mental retardation - all play a central role in this novel. It sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it? Sometimes, too, the language is downright crude. Nevertheless, by the end of the novel you care for the characters. Maybe they are total losers, but some of them are trying their best. Even the losers have some good qualities. There is moreover another theme to the book – the strength of families. So the book isn’t depressing, and there is humor, albeit sad humor.
I am glad I read this book. For me a three star book is one I liked; it is one I am glad I read! This book is considered an Australian classic. It is definitely a total immersion course in Australian life, at least those of the working class after WW2. It is so, so, so Australian - full of colloquialisms and expressions foreign to me. For this reason I must wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook narrated by Peter Hosking. Through his clever intonations you can more easily guess the meaning of expressions and words foreign to those of us who are not Australian. I LOVED how Oriel Lamb spoke. Yeah, she was also kind of my hero all through the story. There are lots of dialogs, and the characters are reinforced by the narrator’s ability to distinguish between each.
The conflict between the Aboriginal people and other Australians is portrayed to a lesser extent, but it is hinted at. The inherent wisdom of Aboriginal beliefs comes to the fore through spooky premonitions. I found this kind of corny, but I guess it had to be drawn into a book about Australian life. It sort of belongs.
YES! it took a while to gel with the characters but once I felt them, it was hard to let them go at the end of the book.
The performance of the reader was good. He was easy to listen to and his voices were suitable and funny.
I've lived in Perth most of my life and am almost ashamed it took me so long to read Cloudstreet. The story is astounding. I turned it over in my mind for days after finishing it. My only (very slight!) issue was that Peter Hosking is obviously an east coast man, his pronunciation was a little off at times and it would have been lovely to make use of more West Australian talent.
This is the best book I have read. It is a clasic moving and interesting from beginning to end. I felt like I knew these people they were so ordinary and yet so rich.
A marvellous read. Beautifully written, wonderful characterisation, both funny and moving.
As soon as I finished I had to go back and listen to the very first scene again...with tears running down my cheeks. Yes, I will listen to the whole thing again one day because I think it is one of those books where it's not just the story that is wonderful to listen to, it's revisiting "old friends" that will be fun.
I didn't really have a favourite character because the whole book is full of interesting and wonderful characters. This is definitely the book for those who love books about people. I was sad when the book finished because I felt that I had gotten to know the characters so well that I knew them and will miss them terribly.
He brings life to the story and characters. He did a terrific job.
I wouldn't want to take anyone out for dinner from Cloudstreet- I would invite myself over for dinner. I would be content to be a fly on the wall !
I listened to this book while I was renovating my house so now the characters and stories are embedded in my house too. I feel very sentimental about this book - so much so the first thing I did after I finished listening was purchase another Tim Winton book in the hope of finding another book just like it.
Winton's characters celebrate and suffer and Peter Hosking gives them voices that stay with you. This story is sad and hopeful full of details that puts you inside the head of each character. There are ghosts, talking pigs and a voice from beyond but it all seems real. It is a beautiful story of two complicated families. Listening to Peter's Australian accent and his singing of folk songs added a whole extra layer of joy. I loved this book and the reading.
Don't know, an Aussie probably.
I loved Dirt Music and was looking forward to this story but couldn't understand the reader. His Australian accent is too strong and he reads too fast. I struggled too hard when all I wanted was to sink into a great story - way too much work and too much missed. I lost the thread and quit listening to it.
An Aussie beauty!
All of them because each character is like someone we already know
This book made me laugh out loud many times and chuckle at the colloquial expressions so many times yet all of this was set against the Aussie battler making good where he could and taking it on the chin when he/she faced a set back.
Just great narration of this wildly amusing but poignant story.
As an Aussie living abroad for many years, I have missed the wonderful expressions which offer a rye smile or a real laugh.
"A beautiful book"
A fabulous, fantastic book. Beautifully read. Wholesome, disfunctional characters living a quirky life. Bitter sweet, tender, funny and sad. An absolute "must read". If you love literature you will love this. I envy everyone who hasn't read this book yet.
A life-affirming, rollicking book, wonderfully narrated. Very highly recommended. Will be looking out for more by this author
"A great novel, beautifully read"
Cloudstreet is probably the best audio book I've heard in the last 5 years of listening.
One Hundred Years of Solitude. Both books are family tales filled with the mystery and ordinariness of life, described in prose of the highest quality.
He manages to capture the uniqueness of each character's voice without strain or stress, to bring to life the world of 1950's Perth.
Tim Winton might have felt, when he finished this book, that it is the book he was meant to write. It has a completeness and maturity about it that all great books achieve. Images from the tale come to mind long afterwards. The characters feel real and one comes to love them.
"A look back at what made Australia 'australian'"
The only reasons I don't give this book five stars are (i) some annoying chapter and 'event' headers (when read out they come across like subtitles) and (ii) to English ears the narration is occasionally challenging. But the story and characters are both excellent. The story follows two working class families across 30 years of domestic life, set in Western Australia rather than perhaps better known places like Melbourne or Sydney. There are times when the modern reader wonders how the characters kept going - life was clearly pretty tough back then. But somehow the lust for life of the Austrlain personality enlivens every crisis and set-back. There are themes below the surface about fate, fortune/luck and whether you can 'cheat your destiny'. I read it on a flight to and while driving through New South Wales, which made it come to life even more. This is also regularly voted the most popular Australian contemporary novel.
"A bit confusing"
Two families share one house over a period of 20 years. Various ailments are experienced, adultery, brain damage, anorexia, depression....but I just didn't understand the hallucinations or esp type mirages that kept happening with various members of the clans.
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