Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Book Review: The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane

 The Sun Walks Down


Fiona McFarlane

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 5th October 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
RRP: $32.99AU
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of The Sun Walks Down

The Sun Walks Down is an evocative story of unsettledness, dispossession and survival in a harsh, arid land, all centred around the search for a six-year-old boy lost in the desert.
McFarlane is a skilled writer who has penned a powerful period story set over one week during September 1883. The author keenly depicts the impact the ruthlessness the desert region of Australia has on individuals and families. 

A wide and varying cast of nuanced characters are introduced in this predominantly character driven novel. The reader is given a thorough insight into their feelings for the land and each other. I found it hard to develop a connection to any of the characters, even the lost boy, as the story flits back and forth with no real focus on any one family or character. I did however feel a connection to the land through McFarlane's descriptions of the remoteness and bleakness of the setting. I liked the inclusion of the strange blood red sunsets and how the characters frequently mentioned its ominous feel which is such a comparison to today where catastrophic events of nature are immediately communicated around the world through electronic means. We no longer have that awe or confusion over unusual solar activity.

The story was a touch slow for me but if you are a lover of beautiful writing and literary fiction I am sure The Sun Walks Down will be a book you will enjoy.

My rating 3 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Fiona McFarlane is the author of the novel The Night Guest, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and a collection of short stories, The High Places, which won the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Her short fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Best Australian Stories and Zoetrope: All-Story. Born in Sydney, Fiona teaches creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

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