Review: Silver Clouds by Fleur McDonald

Title: Silver Clouds

Author: Fleur McDonald

Published: Arena: Allen & Unwin March 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 20 to 21, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Twenty four year old Tessa Mathison is working hard, and playing harder, in London when she receives word her beloved Aunty ‘Spider’ has died. To honour her great-aunt she must return home to the Nullarbor for the funeral but she doesn’t plan on staying long. She has avoided Danjar Plains where possible over the last ten years, unwilling to confront the tragedy that drove her away. But then Tessa’s drunken carousing finally catches up with her and, finding herself unemployed with no where else to go, she agrees to stay at Danjar Plains and take on the task of emptying her Great-Aunt’s home. Away from the frantic pace of London, and distracted by her interest in unraveling the family secret Aunty Spider left behind, Tessa begins to find the half remembered rhythm of country life soothing and may be finally ready to put her past behind her.

Silver Clouds is primarily about Tessa’s journey to make peace with her past. She never dealt properly with the tragic death of her best friend and in her desperation to outrun her guilt and pain she has made choices she is not proud of. On returning home, she is forced to confront her demons and reevaluate what and who she truly wants.

McDonald explores a number of issues in Silver Clouds though it is alcoholism that her protagonist struggles with. Like many of today’s young women, Tessa has found that her binge drinking has spiraled out of control and the repercussions are not just personal, but also professional. At Danjar Plains, Tessa is confronted with her dependence and is forced to deal with it.

I most enjoyed the intrigue surrounding the family history. Aunty Spider (Violet) leaves oblique references to a decades old secret for Tessa to discover. The clues includes a pair of inscribed but unworn wedding rings, two unmarked graves and cryptic diary entries from Violet’s youth which reference the camel traders that serviced the Nullarbor in the early to mid twentieth century. I found this historical aspect of the novel very interesting and I think the author worked this into the story very well.

Tessa’s dalliance with the charming Brendan McKenzie was obviously doomed from the start, though I liked that Tessa came to her own conclusion about his character.
Unfortunately I found the development of the romantic relationship between Tessa and Harrison rather abrupt. There is very little interaction between the pair, and in those moments Tessa is rarely shown in a good light and Harrison is generally disapproving. I don’t have an issue with the age difference, which is considerable, but as the two have very little in common I am not sure where the attraction between them comes from.

Silver Clouds is an easy, engaging read which combines intrigue, drama and romance in a vivid Australian setting. Fleur McDonald’s fans are sure to enjoy this, her fourth rural fiction offering.

Available to Purchase

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patty
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 02:52:34

    I do love books like this…you can almost read them with your eyes closed…lol!



  2. The Australian Bookshelf
    Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:00:09

    I had similar thoughts to you on this one Shelleyrae, I really enjoyed the setting and the family history aspect of the story, but I wasn’t too convinced by the romance plot.



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