Cloud Street by Tim Winton

Cloud Street - A story of two very different families brought together with quirky language and an abundance of beautifully Australian descriptive passages

If you are interested in the way families relate to each other, especially over a long period of time, then this is the book for you. There is no great mystery, no family murder, few of the modern day ailments of family life such as divorce, drugs, abortions etc.

BUT it is an excellent book as the reader becomes more & more involved in the lives of these characters. To add to this, the language is both quirky & well written with an abundance of beautifully descriptive passages.

The Plot

Through a number of incidents recorded at the start of the novel,   two working class families, the Pickles & the Lambs, finish up living in the same house on Cloud Street in Perth, Australia, before, during & after the Second World War.

Although they live in the same house, they couldn't have been more different. One family believes in being lucky or unlucky; the other believes in hard work. The story is about these differences, often told with great humour & giving us a glimpse of rough, hard lives albeit at a much slower pace.


To say too much about the characters in Cloud Street would give much of the story away. Suffice it to say that they are varied; sad, loyal, determined, foolish, self-deluded. strong, weak etc. 


The major theme in Cloud Street is about families, how they get on as two separate families & then together. There is much for us to learn from their personal journeys up to their growing closer relationship towards the end of the story.

Closely connected to the theme of family is that of community, showing how these two families give us an insight into the lives of people living in the fast developing City of Perth at that particular time.

The roles of men & women are explored too with some surprises about the strengths & determination of some of them.

And as so often happens in literature, the story illustrates a need for more communication between people & especially within a family

Book Club Questions

1. What do you consider to be the major differences between the Pickles & the Lambs?

2.  Did you automatically favour one of the families? Why or why not?

3. Who are the strong characters in this story? Are they the most interesting?

4.  After the incident with the new boat & the worry  that Quick & Fish might have been lost, why is it said of Oriel, when she sees them & Lester together, "They were foreigners, they were her blood but they were lost to her." (P116)

5.  At any time , did you feel disappointed with the story or any of its characters after such a good opening? Or do you think it gets better?

6. Would you say that this book is timeless & universal or do you imagine it to be just about Perth, Australia, at that moment in time. Why?

7. Is there any significance in including numerous references to the Second World War in the story?

8.  Were there any weaknesses in the novel?


Overall our book club gave Cloud Street 8/10 - praise indeed.

The story is interesting and the descriptive paragraphs are beautifully written.

For anyone not Australian trying to read this novel, you may struggle a little with some of the colloquial phrases but it shouldn't take away from your overall enjoyment.

Top of Cloud Street by Time Winton

Best Fiction Books

Fab Book Club Recommendations

This Month's Book - Join Us!

Book of Month Club

Love reading about outrageous injustice and unfairness. Try this one.

Empty Cradles

Learn about new countries cultures. Try

Letters From Burma

Looking for books with a bit more depth for your Book Club? Try

John Steinbeck East of Eden

Establish some fun ground rules for your Book Club:

Rules For Meetings

Make things interesting - Have an annual Award Ceremony

Best Books Awards

Visit a Prison with a difference in South America. You will be amazed what goes on behind closed doors:

Marching Powder

Read a Classic and find out what makes Flaubert's story and writing so legendary:

Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

Looking for something quirky and funny?

Try The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared