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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One grand "nugget in the webbing"
The Los Angeles Times Book Review states "Winton is a one-man band of genius."
Heady words, and I snapped at the bait, intrigued by the raving reviews of the readers. (Be careful not to read all of them, as one gives away the entire ending in one sentence).
I was not disappointed. I was completely captivated by this story in a way I have never been by any...
Published on July 7, 2003 by Janice M. Hansen

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You might have to be an Aussie for this one...
I LOVED this book, don't get me wrong - however, some parts are hard to understand, and at times, digest.

With strong, animated and very loveable characters (all in their own way), Tim Winton makes you feel like a part of Cloudstreet. With profound statements such as: "Loving a man was a very silly activity; it was giving to the weak and greedy and making...
Published on August 14, 2004 by B. Larson


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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One grand "nugget in the webbing", July 7, 2003
By 
Janice M. Hansen (California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
The Los Angeles Times Book Review states "Winton is a one-man band of genius."
Heady words, and I snapped at the bait, intrigued by the raving reviews of the readers. (Be careful not to read all of them, as one gives away the entire ending in one sentence).
I was not disappointed. I was completely captivated by this story in a way I have never been by any other. The originality, teasing slang and the insight into australian post-world war II was a hearty combination that cadenced into one of the most fascinating books I have ever read.
This book went with me everywhere. I discussed it with many and especially enjoyed lingering over certain sentences ripe with slang. It was probably one of the most delightful aspects of reading this book; the freshness and foreigness to me as an American reading the saucy expressions of Australians. The humor is hilarious, and there was a smile for nearly every page I read and also moments that made your heart melt. At this very moment, there are friends of mine working in medicine (hospital) still trying to figure out what Tim Winton meant by "the smell of nugget in the webbing."
Aside from the hilarity, the novel is about two families that by chance come together to live in the same large home. The Pickles Family inherits a large home from a relative that dies suddenly and unexpectantly. Thanks to this relative (Uncle Joel) and his wise forethought, he bars his brother, Sam from selling the home for 20 years. Joel's motivation is a premeditated attempt to protect the wife and children of Sam and Sam's gambling at the race tracks, not to mention the unfortunate work related amputation of his fingers on one hand that renders him nearly unemployable. Since things are pretty grim anyway (they are living above the bar that Joel owns and "working" off the rent,) Sam's drunken wife Dolly, and his children move on up to Cloudstreet and the mansion in the offering.
Sam, ever so shifty, immediately, and without prior consultation with the rest of his family, rents out one half of the house to the Lamb family. The Lambs are the absolute opposite of the Pickles. Religious, and with their own family sorrows, they pack in and set up a grocery store in their one half of the lower story to make a living.
The Lambs arrive after suffering through the near drowning of their most beloved son, Fish. (note the irony.)
Fish, retarded and prone to sensing spirits in the house and in and of himself becomes essential to the story and the telling. Revolving around this poor boy are the steel strength-heart soft mother, Oriel, and father Lester, a hen-pecked, sweet tempered,entertaining pa. Son "Quick" is the angst-ridden brother who feels responsible for Fish's accident and grows up fighting the evils around him. The other sisters round out this lively family.
Many characters and sub-plots keep this book a page turner that will entertain and move you. I look forward to reading the rest of his novels.

PS : there is a study guide for those that want to enhance the novel. See Amazon.com under author Tim Winton.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad . . ., September 3, 2000
By 
This review is from: Cloudstreet (Hardcover)
It is sad to see this book is out of print. I still have a hardback copy on my shelf. Since first reading the book -- the first time I read it I had actually checked it out of the library -- I have obtained three copies at my favorite used bookstore, giving away two copies to friends. Maybe it was because Tim Winton was not a household name even among readers or maybe it was because "Cloudstreet" did not appear in Harold Bloom's list of canonical books (and I felt it should have been), but there is no other work of fiction I've felt strong enough about to get three copies to give away two -- that I felt needed to be read and read by as many people as possible. A marvelous allegory, a great work of fantasy with so much of the gritty details of the mundane world you forget how unlikely these two families are that live in the house on Cloudstreet. The Pickles and The Lambs, the two sides of a spiritual person. The Lambs: moral, charitable, and hardworking, but without any faith. On the other end, Sam Pickle, a drunkard and gambler, but a man who knows about what it means to live in the shadow of God: that some days you cannot lose, and other days . . . to get out of bed is asking for trouble. And then there is Fish Lamb who half comes back from his watery grave, the other half living in the world of the spirit watching over the people he loves and telling us their story. I cannot say too much . . . this is a book that needs to be read and then it needs to be contemplated with the sense of wonder it evokes.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and moving book, December 27, 2007
By 
M. Speas (Amherst, Ma. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
This book follows the lives of two Australian families who share a house from the 1940s to the 1960s. Both families are poor, but one believes in "luck" and the other creates their own luck. It's a wonderful, absorbing portrayal of a wide variety of characters, the ups and downs of their lives and the vicissitudes and joys of their crowded lives. The writing was very engaging, although American readers might have some trouble with some of the Australian language.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You should most definitely visit Cloudstreet, February 21, 2006
This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
This is the kind of book you wait for. The words flow smooth and slow, like a deep river, and before you know it a full portrait of a land, a house, two families, and a dozen lifetimes are etched into your mind where they will stay for a very long time.

The character development is flawless and you come to care about each one of them whether you like them or not.

This was the first work by Winton that I've read and the beginning was a little rough going (there are no quotation marks) but by the end of chapter 1 I was wondering why quotation marks were ever invented. In Winton's skillful hands they are totally unnecessary.

I truly did not want this book to end. I, too, wanted to stay on Cloudstreet.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, August 6, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Cloudstreet (Hardcover)
I could not put this book down if I had wanted. The complete Australian atmosphere mesmerized me ... or was it Mr. Winton's unique style of writing? He certainly has a way of capturing a scene in every sentence. This was, perhaps, the closest one can come to experience humanity through a novel. The ordinary lives of humans captured in the normal unexpected events that occur in one's own life. The tragic fragility of what we experience as life can be summed up in the story of Fish. I would recommend this book to high school teachers everywhere. Additionally, I am left wondering how this book could have been missed by the individuals who decide the Booker Prize and its' shortlist
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Perfectly. Always. Everyplace. Me.", September 18, 2000
This novel is a family epic, depicting working-class, ordinary, Australian life in an extraordinary and spiritual way. It follows the lives of two families, the 'Pickleses' and the Lambs, as we join them on their journey from isolation to unity. The entire novel, spanning twenty years, takes place in one moment, as Fish Lamb's life flashes before his eyes as he approaches death. Sometimes confusing, this funny, beautiful book is better appreciated with close study, although it can be enjoyed on any level.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Australian masterpiece, April 12, 2000
This review is from: Cloudstreet (Hardcover)
There is little doubt that Winton has produced in this novel a masterpiece of place, metaphor and characterisation. The Australia of the forties and fifties resonates in this novel which is uniquely "Aussie" in every sense of the word, from Oriel Lamb's casting as a little "Aussie battler" to Sam Pickles' "punting" on the horses to Lester Lamb's belief in the hoary hand of faith and "the knife never lies". This is a novel as accessible to American audiences as Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" or Morrison's "Beloved" is to Australian audiences, but like both novels just mentioned, "Cloudstreet" more than rewards those who patiently persist with this wonderful tale and urban fable, and gives an avid reader a glimpse of Australian lifestyle, beliefs, love and popular culture during the Second World War and post-war years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Families, Two Fates, One House, November 2, 2011
This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
If you think your family is strange, you're probably right, but they can't be any weirder than the Pickles and the Lambs. For twenty years the two families occupy the same sprawling, rundown, semi-haunted house in Perth. Through walls and windows they overhear and observe each other's joys, lamentations, and secrets. When Mrs. Lamb moves out of the house and pitches a tent in the yard, then everyone on Cloud Street knows things are not strictly normal in the Pickle/Lamb residence.

For a long time the two families largely avoid each other and pretend to be minding their own business, but gradually they overcome their suspicions of each other's ways and begin to intermingle their fates. Their combined strengths, weaknesses, and sorrows make for a funky and often raucous existence as they weather wars, weddings, deaths, and poverty from 1944 through 1964.

Upon finishing the book I gave it a mental four stars, with overall bleakness as my excuse for withholding the fifth star. Ten days later, when I sat down to write a review, I decided Winton's character development alone makes it worthy of the highest rating.

The gradual emergence of each character's complete personality is perfect in its naturalness. It's exactly the way you'd get to know people in real life. Just when you think you've got someone all figured out, they exhibit a behavior or share a secret that reconfigures everything you thought you knew.

You're likely to feel compassion and exasperation in equal measures as you follow the changing fortunes of the Pickles and the Lambs. When someone you care about is struggling, you wonder, "Why don't they just (insert your solution)?" But as you learn more about them, you realize they're doing the only thing they know how to do given the losses and limitations they've been handed since birth. Tim Winton allows this truth to unfold so perfectly between the parents and children of the two families. You may not like every one of the Pickles and the Lambs, but they'll never bore you.

I love the way Tim Winton weaves the beauty and power of nature into his novels. It's a source of solace for his characters as well as a source of fear and loss. Those forces seem to be especially fierce in his native Australia, and he uses them to great effect, sneaking in a little of the mystical without quite straying into animism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, lovely story., November 3, 2007
By 
Diana "lawyerlee" (Lawrence, Kansas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
I loved this book. It's the story of two working class families in Perth, Australia, over twenty years time during the 40s/50s/60s. It's really fantastic. The story is rich with details and description, and the characters are extremely well developed and compelling. I was sad to finish it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Special Family, March 3, 2010
This review is from: Cloudstreet: A Novel (Paperback)
Tim Winton's expansive, beautifully written novel is a poignant portrait of twenty years in the lives of two working-class Australian families, the Pickleses and the Lambs, whose destinies are intertwined with the same threads of luck and loss that brought both families to the home that will come to define them.

Family tragedy conspires to evict both families from their hometowns and throw them together at One Cloud Street, Perth, Western Australia. Sam Pickles, who lives his life beholden to the whims of "The Shadow of the Hairy Hand of God," aka Lady Luck, must relocate his wife and children, led by prematurely hardened daughter Rose, to the mansion left by his just-dead brother for the next twenty years. Financial need prompts them to rent half of the house to the grieving Lambs, who have just endured an accident that left their once magnetic son, Fish, mentally retarded, and his older brother, Quick, saddled with a life-long sense of guilt. The clan is headed by Oriel Lamb, an indomitable drill-sergeant of a woman, whose decision to convert part of the house into a corner store will help define the lives of both families for the next two decades. This is only the first of twenty years worth of reciprocal shapings the two families and their dwelling, which has a troubled history of its own, will enact on one another, eventually resulting in two families as inextricably bound to their dwelling as they are to one another.

With his spare but elegant, spot-on prose, Winton allows us to witness the moments of utter despair, improbable triumph, hilarious coincidence, and fierce resilience that define the Pickles and Lamb families, all driven by the ceaseless and occasionally mystical workings of "The Shadow" and the families' often tested but never quite extinguished love for one another. As Quick Lamb muses, "They worked their bums off and took life seriously: there was good and bad, punishment and reward and the isolation of queerness. But there was love too, and always there was music and dancing and jokes, even in the miserable times."

Throughout the novel, Winton interpolates free-form musings on the part of Fish Lamb's disembodied, fully cognizant, constantly observing spirit into his main storyline, lending a sense of fate and cosmic wonder to the families' struggles and triumphs. The Pickleses and the Lambs are special - not because there is anything the least bit extraordinary about either of them, but because their strivings and fears and accomplishments and love for one another so accurately represent the very essence of human existence.
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Cloudstreet: A Novel
Cloudstreet: A Novel by Tim Winton (Paperback - June 6, 2002)
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