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Editorial Reviews

Through its two reclusive co-protagonists, Rhubarb delivers dueling portraits of solitude: listeners meet Eleanor Rigby (yes - like the Beatles’ song), a blind woman with an overweight guide dog, and Ewan Dempsey, an agoraphobic cello-maker. The lives of the two intertwine in the provincial climes of Fremantle, a wayward town in Western Australia, as Ewan and Eleanor try to help each other overcome the ghosts of their troubled pasts.

In homage to author Craig Silvey’s musical sensibilities, performer Humphrey Bower lends an absolutely singsong quality to this jilted lullaby of loneliness. Indeed, the Aussie actor’s Bob Dylan impression is remarkably convincing. Bower’s pensive pacing and melodious warbling play perfectly with the unusual blend of prose, verse, and stream-of-consciousness flashbacks that inform Silvey’s strikingly unique linguistic stylings.

Publisher's Summary

A poignant and tender sort-of-love story about two damaged people tenuously connecting.

Eleanor is blind and lives with her reclusive mother. Ewan is a cello player with agoraphobia. She is drawn to him through his music but cannot understand the difficulty he faces in forming a friendship. He does not understand her past, nor the impact his music has on her. Amidst the heat of a Fremantle summer, they stumble towards each other.

Sad, funny, affecting, and peopled with characters that live and breathe, Rhubarb is the first novel from a young writer with an astonishing talent. With his sublime and playful use of language and his uncanny ability to reveal the human condition in all its vulnerability and fragility, Craig Silvey has created an extraordinary contemporary story.

©2004 Craig Silvey; (P)2007 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

Critic Reviews

"The novel has the charm of early work such as Gustave Flaubert's Novembre and Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans." (Weekend Australian)
"The playful words and images in this book are a sheer joy. More please." (Sydney Morning Herald)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Louise
  • 04-11-08

Simply Wonderful

Rhubarb is a lot more than a love story. It's written in the 3rd person. Normally I don't like this tense in writing but Craig Silvey makes it work. We get to know and love the 2 main and appreciate the supporting characters. Humor is sprinkled liberally through out but it's not a comedic novel.
All the characters are vivid and well developed. May I dare say that in this novel I couldn't help thinking that here is the next Bryce Courtenay. For all of you who are familiar with this prolific author know I mean this comment as flattery.
Sad to see Rhubarb end and even sadder that Craig Silvey has nothing more on Audible.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dave
  • Stillwater Lake, NS, Canada
  • 04-19-10


The chase at the very end is breathtaking, which is my way to describe this powerful love story about two special people.Funny, sad, intensely moving, strong characters all expressed by my favorite narrator, Humphrey Bower. This is clearly a "must listen".
As another reviewer stated, too bad this is Craig Silvey's only audible book. More of Silvey please! More of Bower!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lanlady
  • Woodbridge, VA USA
  • 06-20-10

nicely written but couldn't keep my interest

Very creative and expressive writing, and at times it had me laughing out loud. But the characters hide behind a lot of snark, and I found I just lost interest in the progress of their story because of it. It's possible the written version allows you to get inside their heads and hearts more thoroughly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful