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Posted July 12, 2012
I read Rain, Leigh K. Cunningham's first work of fiction for adult readers, knowing it wasn't a romance novel, even if it dealt with the romantic affairs of several women in an Australian family in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Rain is a clear-eyed account of those affairs, boldly telling us why the women do what they do and why the men they fall in love with mostly fail them.
And yet, even as Helena, her daughter Carla, and the other women in Rain err romantrically, Cunningham's unsentimental telling of her story made me take them seriously. I could only sympathize with them. If I were in their positions, wouldn't I err no less badly than they do?
Nor did Cunningham's tale preclude my sympathy for the majority of the male characters. They do what they do because, given their limited view of the world, that's what males do.
Rain is a profound current-day tragedy. It's for the serious reader, the one like myself who wants no unjustified, lighthearted optimism but a deep involvement, to the point of tears, with characters who are all too real.
Posted June 16, 2012
Rain is at the top of my list of favourite books of the year. I've often found myself thinking of the characters while sitting on the train on my way to work. I love books that can make me feel for the characters and be in the moment with them rather than just reading and observing, and that's what this book did for me. It is however a very sad and tragic tale, so if you're looking for something upbeat, this is not the book for you.
The writer also has a unique writing style which is consistent with the genre (literary fiction), so again, if you don't like this kind of prose, this may not be the book for you.
I also really enjoyed the Australian setting and references.
Posted October 18, 2011
This was a well written book but incredibly depressing. Not really one bright spot in the entire book. If you like non stop tragedy then read this book. If you like warm and fuzzy this book definitely not for you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2011
Reviewed by Janet J for Readers Favorite
Rain is a three-generation family saga that begins with the Australian Wallin family and their daughters Grace and Helena. Though they were raised in comfort and love made possible by their father's sawmill dynasty, loss and misfortune soon change the future for the sisters. Grace moves away to pursue her goals while Helena makes an unfortunate choice in marriage, raising four children who don't recognize her sacrifices until they are older. Two of her sons, William and Brian, become lost in the dark, hazy world of substance abuse and never realize their potential nor their own worth.
The story then moves to Helena's daughter Carla, who is a survivor. With her university education largely supported by Helena, she becomes a lawyer, embittered by life and unwilling to trust. When it seems that she is destined to be alone, a surprising encounter leads her to love and tenderness in Ethan. Tragedy follows her, however, and she flees to a monastery for self-reflection and then to volunteer work in a third world country, where she begins to find herself again.
Meanwhile Matthew, a gifted writer and journalist, fights his own demons and survives harsh imprisonment in order to report the truth.
As adults, Carla and Matthew unite in their concern for Helena's well-being, and the love and tenderness they show her is touching. I found it moving to read how grown siblings, never close as children, who have lived half a world apart, still find each other in times of need. In the end, and always, it's about family, and being open to those who love you.
Leigh Cunningham has crafted an engrossing, well-written and compelling book. Although it is hard to "encapsulate" because there are many themes and story lines, it is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.
Posted May 22, 2011
Rain, Leigh K. Cunningham's first novel for adult readers, is a page-turning story of three generations in a small-town Australian family during forty turbulent years from 1965 to 2005.
The tale mostly, but not exclusively, revolves around a second-generation mother, Helena, and her third-generation daughter, Carla. Even as they deny they need to, they give their lives to the men and boys who are their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers-and receive in return enormous grief.
And yet this is no mindless indictment of the male characters. For instance, at the beginning Helena and her sister Grace, heiresses to their father's sawmill business, both favor the physically desirable Michael Baden. He readily returns the interest of the more attractive sister, Grace, to the point of consummating a youthful affair with her.
Grace, however, has her eye on a more glamorous life than Michael can be a part of. A worker in the mill, he's a bastard grandson of the impoverished and physically abused woman who claims to be his mother. He's also a victim of severe playground abuse for nothing more than being who he is.
When Grace leaves for a more worldly existence in Sydney, Michael turns his attention to the "sensible and comfortable" Helena. This reader finds it difficult to blame either of them for what follows.
Abuse-psychological, physical, and sexual-dominates Cunningham's story. And yet all of her characters-no matter how possible it is to say they invite their own grief-are sympathetic. This reader wanted each of them to succeed, even as he grew in his knowledge that most of them wouldn't.
The playground bullies and the gang-rapists of a fourteen-year-old girl in a nighttime cemetery are faceless, as they should be in this kind of story. Nobody has to be convinced those hobgoblins exist, even in fiction that blissfully-in this reader's humble opinion-eschews paranormality.
But what this reader most admires in Rain is Cunningham's unsentimental but intensely moving style of writing. She has no need to tell you when she's touching your heart. You simply feel it.
Posted March 6, 2012
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