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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Dr Raymond Filigree, running away from a disastrous medical career, mistakes an unknown name on a map for the perfect refuge. He travels to the isolated town of Wittenoom and takes charge of its small hospital, a place where no previous doctor has managed to stay longer than an eye blink. Instead of settling into a quiet, solitary life, he discovers an asbestos mining corp ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2018 by UWA Publishing (first published 2018)
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Michelle Johnston :-) I do believe so. Half of my beta readers were male. UWAP have put together some bookclub questions, if that might help ...
:-) I do believe so. Half of my beta readers were male. UWAP have put together some bookclub questions, if that might help ...
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Robert Lukins
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Endlessly gorgeous prose; characters that feel real; a completely compelling story; I don't know what else to ask for.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dr Lou Fitzgerald is a young doctor fleeing the tragic consequences of a medical error. She leaves Perth and arrives in Wittenoom, a town in the north of Western Australia, which is now abandoned but was once the heart of asbestos mining in this country.

Lou meets Dave, one of only a handful of people still living in Wittenoom, who asks her to write the story of what happened in the asbestos mines for his dying father. Lou begins to write, and pens the story of Dr Raymond Filigree, a doctor who
Michael Livingston
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A gripping story with powerful political reverbrations told in a neatly structured, well-written novel - wonderful.
Cate Pattison
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Dustfall addresses an important chapter in Western Australia's history and tells a story of an industrial health disaster that demands to be told. It brings the events of Wittenoom in the 1960s beautifully to life through the tandem experiences of a doctor at the time and one revisiting many years later. It also explores the issue of medical error and the gut-wrenching experience lived by doctors when things don't go right. However... I found the writing style overworked, irritating and unnecess ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A stunning debut novel examining the disastrous health and social impacts of the Wittenoom asbestos mine by West Australian author, Michelle Johnston. The book examines the immediate impact on families rather than the long compensation battles we have all read about.

The first few pages of this novel were a bit rocky for me. Overly descriptive. But by the end of the first chapter the writing had settled into lovely prose capturing the Pilbara landscape in a story which is given even more authenti
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read a very early draft of this book several years ago, and am so pleased to say how much I enjoyed the final version!

The author uses beautiful, evocative language to describe the WA settings in which this book is placed. I loved the character of Lou, and Miss Rosa has a few surprises! As well as the writing, I loved the story set around the asbestos mining town, the consequences of which are now well known to us.

A wonderful read.
Maureen Helen
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Michelle Johnston's Dustfall and highly recommend it for a thoroughly good read, as well as an account of a tiny slice of the social and medical history of Western Australia. For an extended review, please go to my website at

Angela Pickett
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book weaving together the two stories of Dr Raymond Filagree in the 1960s and Dr Lou Fitzgerald 30 years later.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolute 5 Star beauty. Great book.

Alternating chapters (always interesting). One time line (1966) is set during the Wittenoom asbestos mines operating period. The other time line (1996) is set long after the closure of the mine and the town...but a few residents choose to exist in the now derelict ghost town.

Interesting main characters .....parallel story lines......a really devastating period of history ....things that never should have been...... a really good read.....a cracking good fir
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
In short, this book was disappointing. I had such high hopes for this novel. Set in Wittenoom, WA, a town formally booming as a result of the asbestos mines, and written by an author who is actually a doctor, this book had such potential. Instead, I found the main characters to be poorly developed and two dementional, as were the supporting characters (what the hell was going on with Matron and Miss Rosa??!) and the plot weak and somewhat unrealistic. There was the occasional lovely phrase but o ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book, full of well rounded characters and a slice of shameful history. The chapters alternating between the 60s and the 90s work well. The story of Wittenoom, interwoven with the stories of the two doctors, all show how difficult it is to fight bureaucracy.

An excellent first novel.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. I liked the way the story swapped between present day and past. I couldn’t put it down.
Joanna Nell
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, thought provoking and wise. Michelle’s prose is beautiful and evocative. Highly recommend this debut novel.
Every now and again I come across a book so deeply satisfying that I think to myself, Australian publishing is in good hands. So it is with Dustfall, the debut novel of WA doctor Michelle Johnston, and published by UWAP who consistently publish worthwhile novels. On a day that follows an historic decision by the ACCC to lay charges against senior executives of the ANZ bank, I finished this story of Wittenoom and wondered why corporate crime is so rarely held to account. The next day the ANZ stor ...more
Kelly Van Nelson
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Turning the last page of Dustfall, the debut novel from Perth local author, Michelle Johnston, was like taking in a huge gulp of air after holding one’s breath for hours on end. Fear that poisonous Asbestos spores being written about on the page might jump from the book and down into one’s insides, causing respiratory system havoc, is not something most people ever really think about. Certainly, Asbestos Mining, and associated Asbestos hazards are not topics I had ever read about in any detail. ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Gave up on this book. Too cliched bush romance and not enough to keep me interested.
Elizabeth Hogan
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This is not something I would regularly read, but the concept drew me in, and a recommendation from a friend had me sold.
All in all, it was a decent read, couple of dramatic moments, bit of romance (perhaps a bit too fast and forward on the romance), and a good insight to Australian history that I personally had not known much about.

Although I found it to be an ok read, I'm not sure why it left me feeling annoyed by the end. Everything wraps up quite rapidly and it still leaves a few questions
Monique Mulligan
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing underscores a sobering story examining the aftereffects of Wittenoom, a real-life asbestos mining town in Western Australia. Johnston’s poetic prose is a delight to read; the dual timeline story is expertly woven and evocative. It’s one of those books that leaves you mulling over the choices and wrongs of the past, and empathising with the lives damaged by careless and greedy corporate decision-making. Highly recommended if you like your fiction literary with a side of deep thi ...more
Susan Dunn
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'Dustfall' is an assertive expose of the ghastly truths hidden in the hearts and flesh of Wittenoom's victims. Johnston's articulate, descriptive prose drew me into the parallel world's of Lou and Raymond like a clever Quick Step between eras. As the stories unfolded it was a relief to read of individual's struggles in the context of family and personal relationships rather than the more publicised details of the legal battles.
Melding the two eras through planted and discovered objects as well
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This just did not work for me at all. The premise sounds interesting, a woman drives into the pilbara & finds an abandoned hospital, each chapter alternates to when the hospital was brand new. But then I started thinking Raymond was the story the woman was writing. Dave was just a big fat cliche & then came the Italian characters named Mr & Mrs Italiano. I was expecting Mrs Koala & Mr Kangaroo to pop out at any moment. I skipped forward a bit & the main characters single erro ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘when humans die they crumble into dust with barely a whisper, and are poured into urns for display on mute mantelpieces, or shelved away underground, leaving nothing but official paperwork and vast, endless wreckage.’
Michelle Johnston delivers such wonderful prose in her beautiful, delicate first novel from the very first to the last page. This is a writer to read, over and over again. A rich and compelling tale that takes you into the heart of how being human means encountering tragedy, then l
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and its historical aspect, I never new about the mines or asbestos in Wittenoom, or what asbestosis does to the body. This book was also about the stress and pressures that comes with being a medical doctor and the confidence it takes to remain in the field, and what one little mistake can do to your mental health even if the mistake was not your fault.
This book was written well and I was very impressed. Looking forward to more by this author!
Robin Bower
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This a is a brilliant read from a new Perth writer. It follows a parallel structure of two doctors in different eras both running from spectacular failure. The environment they share, albeit a generation apart, is the spectacular failure of Wittenoom, once thriving from the mining of asbestos, now no more. It’s an important true story told via fiction in a clever juxtaposition of timelines and characters. I loved it.
Sheridan Hopkins
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting history of corruption in the mining sector in Australia seen through the story of two doctors lives in seperate times. The restrained love stories overpowered by the sadness of their times and perceived failures was threaded through the history of asbestos mining. Some would find the past present back and forth annoying but I found it metronomically soothing.
Penny Wilson
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am totally biased, because I absolutely adore Michelle Johnston's writing in all its forms and inhale anything she writes. I am pleased to say that her debut novel did not disappoint. The stunning imagery and the warmth of the characters as well as the engaging story line made this book a delight to read.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Set in Wittenoom, this novel is describes in detail a chapter from Australia's mining history that continues to inform horrifying newspaper headlines with its aftermath. More comments after bookclub.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Awesome debut novel from an Australian medical doctor-turned-writer. Interesting characters, fascinating history of a slice of WA, beautifully written. A total pleasure, and I look forward to reading more from Michelle Johnston.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
First novel by an West Australia emergency physician. Great grasp of Wittenoom, Dr McNulty is even mentioned in this work of fiction.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
A deserving story in a book that could have done with a good edit to declutter the overuse of enthusiastic literary prose.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating account of a terrible period in history. This is very relevant given the ongoing battle between big corporations and the victims of asbestos related illnesses. The situation for young doctors in hospitals is also very well outlined.
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