Good Reading : August 2015
GOOD READING AUGUST 2015 37 Coming Rain Stephen Daisley Set mainly on Drysdale Downs, a sheep station out back of Perth, this novel explores the dramatic effect of change on its human and animal characters. As an 11-year-old kid with no shoes, Lew leaves his family home to work under the supervision of old, hardened shearer, Painter. Painter teaches him to shear and to fight, and shares his own brand of wisdom regarding women. They get a contract shear ing at Drysdale Downs. Mr Drysdale, the owner, has a 19-year-old daughter, Clara, and she and Lew are instantly attracted to each other. But their romance begins under the pressure of class distinction – a shearer and the station owner’s daughter? Mr Drysdale, still in mourning for his late wife and the death of his younger daughter, finds it impossible to let go of the past. So he dotes on Clara and tells Lew there is no way he can pursue a romance with Clara. Painter warns him of the foolishness and absurdity of entertaining such an idea. But Lew has to make his own decision. A parallel story is that of a dingo bitch, a major character, as vividly drawn as the humans. She becomes a large part of the narrative as the links between her life and the humans deepen. She is both the hunter and the hunted. For human and animal, it’s the survival of the fittest, and the vulnerability of the underdog against the more powerful. Stephen Daisley has absorbed the Western Australian landscape and descr ibes it evocatively as he respectfully sketches the dingo’s character and her cleverness in evading the dingo shooters. Animal lovers will appreciate the startling imagery of her violence in the hunt balanced with the tender nurture of the young dog who joins her. Daisley’s writing style reminds me of Henry Lawson’s. Its short, sharp sentences and chapters, raw language and dialogue define the characters and the Outback in a grimly realistic but deeply humane way. ★★★★ Text $29.99 Reviewed by Judith Grace GENERAL FICTION In store from mid-August WHERE SHOULD I LIVE? WHAT KIND OF DWELLING SHOULD I LIVE IN? WHAT SHOULD I DO IN AN EXTREME CLIMATE EVENT? HOW SHOULD I LIVE? A groundbreaking guide to surviving and living with climate change.