Eyrie – Tim Winton

The darker side of life in Western Australia – the environmental impact of the mining boom, and local government’s connivance with it blinkered by lure of filthy lucre; the attempts of a mother to keep her six year old grandson free from the violent threats posed by his druggie parents, and the decisions of social services; and the relentless descent to rock bottom by our narrator Tom Keely, a disgraced environmental activist hooked on pain killers and booze, who repeatedly and relentlessly fails to find his feet despite his family’s love and support.

Publisher’s page: Eyrie – Tim Winton
Guardian Reviews – Eyrie by Tim Winton – Michael Williams, 1 November 2013 and Eyrie by Tim Winton – Evie Wyld 30 May 2014

The Turning – Tim Winton

A beautiful, haunting set of short stories from Tim Winton, featuring the generations of families who live and grow up in the coastal town of Angelus, Western Australia. Although the stories can be read in isolation, this collection is home to a relatively small set of characters whose lives intertwine, intersect and overlap.

It was only towards the end of the book that I realised quite how small the cast was, and how many times we’ve been shown different stages and key events in the same life. Sometimes from their perspective, sometimes from that of those close to them. Myths, mysteries and misunderstandings abound.

One of those rare books that did actually cause me to go back and start reading from the beginning again, to spot more connections and to understand the complex characters a little better. Definitely a book that I’ll come back to, and those are few and far between.

amazon.co.uk link: The Turning – Tim Winton

The Riders – Tim Winton

The first Tim Winton novel I’ve read that hasn’t been set in Australia, and I’m still trying to work out whether the European setting for this novel affected my reading of it, or his writing of it. Full marks to the Barbican library for stocking it in any event, and luck that I spotted it in my pre-holiday library book selection spree.

It is very different from his other novels – I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I fully appreciate the signficance of the title, or the scene in the novel it refers to, and within the book there were lots of unknowns and questions that remain unanswered when you reach the end.

One thing that has stayed with even after finishing the book is the way in which Tim Winton conveys the changing feelings and reactions the main character, Scully, as events unfold and his life unravels. From the excitement and apprehension of taking on a run down old cottage in a remote part of Ireland, to the frantic return to and flight from Greece and the increasingly surreal and unreal times in Paris and Amsterdam where the atmosphere becomes more claustrophobic and chaotic.

Buy it: Amazon link

Shallows – Tim Winton

Another Western Australian novel by Tim Winton. A slimmer volume than Cloudstreet, but with a narrower focus. It’s set in the waning days of the fictional whaling town of Angelus, casting glances back over the area’s 150 years since the first white whalers arrived. Not so much of the mythical here, but a candid telling of the old clashing with the new.

I suspect that it’s based on the real South Western town of Albany, where Hazel and I spent a solemn afternoon at the whaling museum, and a more uplifting few hours visiting the geographical marvels along the coast, which the book mentions too.

Buy it: Amazon link