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The Service of Clouds
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The Service of Clouds

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  24 reviews
It is 1907 in the Blue Mountains of Australia, one of the world's most dramatic landscapes. Eureka Jones, a young pharmacist's assistant, slowly begins to fall in love with Harry Kitchings, a distant stranger who has arrived to photograph clouds. This beautifully told historical love story, a bestseller in Australia, will appeal to readers of Oscar & Lucinda and The Sh ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Picador USA (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  178 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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There are not too many novels that I want to re-read and not too many novels that I have chanced upon about photographers. This one I have read time and again. I am besotted with Harry's photographic quest; the misty Blue Mountains; it's hidden history of being the place for the cure of TB, the madness of the air filled with eucalyptus fumes, and the sad faded romance. Harry climbs through the mountain trails with his tripod and camera ~ some I have climbed others now I will never get to, but I ...more
Kali Napier
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aww2018
Some books are difficult to describe, they have to be experienced. The Service of Clouds is one of these. Set in the Edwardian era in Katoomba, amid a time of developments in medicine and technology, and the burgeoning tourism industry, as well as war, this story is mostly told through the "historical eyes" of Eureka Jones, whose love of photographer Harry Kitchings is recalled and composed in arrangements of memories -- moments of the past caught on glass slides. Harry captures landscapes, stud ...more
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
I am not sure how to express how perfect my reading of this book was at this particular point in time. I was holidaying in the Blue Mountains three years ago when I saw The Service of Clouds on the bookshelf of the cottage I was staying in. It intrigued me but I was reading another book at the time which I couldn't put down (the Millenium trilogy actually!). Three years later, I'm staying at the same cottage again and decided I must read it this time.
The Service of Clouds is a love letter to th
Sep 05, 2009 marked it as abandoned
I might try to read this again but the first 50 pages were painful and I could not muster up the energy to turn another page. Maybe another day I will pick it up again but for now...i am calling it and putting it away.
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
The author writes like she's painting, and there are some really beautiful images throughout the book, but it almost seemed as though the characters and movement of the novel were just a prop for her to create these visuals. The story is set over years and years, but feels like it could have been weeks with how much actually happens and how much we learn about the characters (in fact I have read books set over the course of 24 hours in which I felt more of a connection to the people and events). ...more
Amy (Lost in a Good Book)
Sep 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned
From about one chapter in I knew I was not going to like this book. It was flowery, over the top and fluffy language that was too descriptive and was far too unnecessary. It had as much impact on me as the TV Guide because all I can remember is something about photography and the Blue Mountains. Yet another example of an award winning book praised by everyone that failed in my eyes. Apparently if you liked The Shipping News (which I did not) then you will love this book. Take from that what you ...more
Patrick Barry
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This novel didn't do it for me. It is a story of unrequited love. But I really failed to connect with the characters in the story. The resolution of the story also seemed a bit far fetched and not in keeping with the main character.
Megalong Books
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kathie
Beautifully written and evocative novel set in katoomba.
- Kathie
May 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I didn't finish this book. I just couldn't get into it.
Span Streatfeild
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poetic historical fiction filled to the brim with lament, overflowing with micro stories that tug at the heart strings. Beautiful.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-summer
a struggle to finish
Susan Austin
Feb 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I rarely give up on a book but I just got too annoyed with this one after about halfway. Some interesting characters and some lovely writing but I think she totally overdoes the magical realism thing to the point where every second sentence in unbelievable and annoying. I love Isabel Allende's magical realism but there must be a real knack to employing it and a fine line between being adding a charming element to a story and drowning it in unreality. It was also too slow to keep my attention. To ...more
Another re-read
I adore falling into this book, it's poetry, it's sad, it's painfully beautiful I adore it.
It's as close to floating in a cloud of words and emotion as a book can get

I loved this book and have been searching for it for years. I don't know if it was because I was in the blue mountains when I read it (that probably influenced my love) or if there was just something about it - but this book has stayed in the back of my mind for years. So happy to find it again.
Olwyn Conrau
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to read this book, not because it's bad, but it's so dense and beautiful that it deserved my full attention. Of interest, as soon as I opened it up again, I didn't need to revisit chapters I'd already read.
My own grandfather had been a photographer during the early part of the 20th century so I was intrigued by Harry Kitchings. The research is spot on. Overall, it's a meandering kind of reflective love story, superbly written and structured.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Beautifully written, some lovely descriptions and imagery but...I got a bit bored near the end. I was sad to see how Eureka's love life unfolded although maybe doing the photography was what she always needed to do anyway.
Claire Noonan
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Plenty of atmosphere that entices one to dream of traipsing around the Blue Mountains. I loved the contrast between the two major relationships depicted- the ethereal 'up in the clouds' nature of one contrasted with the earthy passion of the other.
Susie Anderson
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
this was really pretty writing but the language was sometimes so dense i couldn't work out what was really going on. and i mean that may have been the intention to place me in the heady blue mountains, but it made me aware of it.. felt too conscious.. unsure
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Flowery, descriptive and turgid as the prose is at times it is a book to be savoured and it's staying on my favourites shelf.
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This had so many beautiful descriptions and words. A neat story.
Cheyenne Blue
Mar 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, australian
The blurb was promising, but the writing was too turgid and ponderous to be pleasurable. Set aside and I doubt I'll be back.
Picador never lets me down
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I tried very hard to like this book. I wanted to like the story, the people. In the end, I loved words hanging in crystal moments -- but the characters drove me nuts. (Sorry)
rated it liked it
Jun 04, 2017
Alison Seccull
rated it it was ok
Apr 23, 2019
Lucy VanPelt
rated it really liked it
May 17, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Sep 14, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2014
Justin Bunt
rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2015
Shellie Fetcho
rated it it was ok
Aug 17, 2015
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Delia Falconer is the author of two novels, The Service of Clouds and The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers and Selected Stories and the memoir Sydney. Her fiction and non-fiction have been widely anthologised, including in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. She is a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney.