All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Rain Music by Di Morrissey

on November 13, 2015

Rain MusicRain Music
Di Morrissey
Pan Macmillan AUS
2015, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}:

Di writes about the Australia she knows, she loves, she’s explored.

Rain Music is inspired by her adventures in far north Queensland – its characters, its forgotten history, its modern dilemmas.

A brother and sister, Ned and Bella Chisholm, are struggling with a family tragedy that has set them on opposite paths. After Ned takes off to pursue his musical dreams in far north Queensland, he disappears. When Bella goes in search of her brother, she ends up in remote Cooktown and both their lives are dramatically changed in the isolated, little-known far north of Australia.

One story through two sets of eyes.

Although I read a lot of Australian authors (and specifically, a lot of Australian female authors) I’ve had a bit of a goal to attempt to broaden the locations of books I’m reading. There are always plenty of books set in Melbourne or Sydney but I’m always looking for ones set in places I’ve never been. Di Morrissey’s books are pretty much always good for that. She chooses many and varied local settings and her latest book, Rain Music is no exception, set in the lush tropical north part of Queensland around Cooktown. For the uninitiated, Cooktown is about 2000kms north of Brisbane.

Bella Chisholm lives in Melbourne and her deceased father is about to receive a great honour. She desperately wants her brother Ned, a drifter musician to return to Melbourne for the event but Ned is proving extremely elusive to track down via phone. Bella decides to take some annual leave and travel north to find Ned, unaware that the journey she takes will also help her find herself.

Bella and Ned provide alternating points of view in this story, each with their own very distinctive voice and personality. They were once close siblings but time and distance has stretched their relationship. Both of them are quite different – Bella has always done what was expected of her, she has a steady job and lives not too far from their widowed mother in Victoria. Ned on the other hand shrugged off their surgeon father’s expectations and threw his life into music. Although he’s produced one CD, he now spends most of his time travelling around playing gigs in pubs and the like, although recently he’s been motivated to really write something with meaning. He plans to use his time spent in the remote north to accomplish this and has little interest in returning to Victoria for the ceremony honouring his father.

The furthest north I’ve ever been is the Sunshine Coast, which although feels quite far given I now live in Victoria all the way at the bottom of the country, still leaves a lot of unexplored country. I really enjoyed reading about Cooktown and some of the surrounding areas as well as some of the places Bella visits as she makes her way north in her attempt to find Ned. There’s quite a lot about the history of the area dating right back to the days it was mostly plantations and a way for the masses rushing in for the goldfields. Woven into the modern day story is a historical one which unfolds through a series of letters that Ned encounters at a local museum as well as a story told to Bella by a local. When Ned and Bella eventually meet up they begin to put the pieces they have together to come as close as they can to the whole.

Having a brother myself and living some distance away from him (about 1200kms) I found myself relating quite well to the sibling relationship between Ned and Bella. I at times, understood Bella’s frustration at Ned’s disappearing and his lack of keeping in touch but at the same time, I also understood Ned’s need for freedom and the strong conviction he had to follow his own path and do what he wanted to do. It becomes quite obvious quite soon on that Ned has a specific reason for not wanting to attend the ceremony and it’s something he wishes to shield Bella from, should she allow him. Bella however is quite the terrier, demanding and picking and needling Ned until he confesses to her, knowing that what he tells her will change her perceptions and feelings on many things. From that however, the two of them do reach a new place, no secrets and a better understanding of the choices they have each made. I also really liked Bella’s journey of her own self-discovery, allowing her to finally make decisions about her own future.

Rain Music was a very engaging story that did a wonderful job of showcasing its setting. I enjoyed it a lot.


Book #167 of 2015


Rain Music is book #66 of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015


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