Cloudstreet by Tim Winton (Picador £8.99)

So many good friends have told me to read this book over the years but it has sat on my shelf unopened. This New Year I made a resolution to try to tackle my ‘to read’ pile, and chose this one from somewhere near the bottom.

I am so pleased that I did. Winton’s novel is a big family saga. Well, actually, it is a big two family saga. The hapless Sam Pickle inherits a house on Cloudstreet but, cleverly, it states in his brother’s will that it must not be sold for twenty years, thus securing childhood stability for his niece and nephew. To make ends meet, the house is split down the middle, with one half rented out to the industrious Lamb family.

This sprawling novel dips in and out of the interior lives of the many members of both families. Rose suffers the burden of an alcoholic mother and battles her own anorexic demons, Quick Lamb is weighed down by survivors’ guilt and, as we see into the mind of Fish Lamb, the book moves through dreamlike shifts in the narrative.

The co-existence of the families through the twenty years between 1944 and 1964 is delightful and endearing. Fundamentally, Winton’s wide-ranging novel celebrates the joys of family life and being together – so it is ideal for the New Year.

Reviewed by Philippa Morris, Little Apple bookshop