Ron Fritsch's Reviews > Rain

Rain by Leigh K. Cunningham
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it was amazing

Rain, Leigh K. Cunningham's first novel for adult readers, is a page-turning story of three generations in a small-town Australian family during forty turbulent years from 1965 to 2005.

The tale mostly, but not exclusively, revolves around a second-generation mother, Helena, and her third-generation daughter, Carla. Even as they deny they need to, they give their lives to the men and boys who are their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers—and receive in return enormous grief.

And yet this is no mindless indictment of the male characters. For instance, at the beginning Helena and her sister Grace, heiresses to their father's sawmill business, both favor the physically desirable Michael Baden. He readily returns the interest of the more attractive sister, Grace, to the point of consummating a youthful affair with her.

Grace, however, has her eye on a more glamorous life than Michael can be a part of. A worker in the mill, he's a bastard grandson of the impoverished and physically abused woman who claims to be his mother. He's also a victim of severe playground abuse for nothing more than being who he is.

When Grace leaves for a more worldly existence in Sydney, Michael turns his attention to the "sensible and comfortable" Helena. This reader finds it difficult to blame either of them for what follows.
Abuse—psychological, physical, and sexual—dominates Cunningham's story. And yet all of her characters—no matter how possible it is to say they invite their own grief—are sympathetic. This reader wanted each of them to succeed, even as he grew in his knowledge that most of them wouldn't.

The playground bullies and the gang-rapists of a fourteen-year-old girl in a nighttime cemetery are faceless, as they should be in this kind of story. Nobody has to be convinced those hobgoblins exist, even in fiction that blissfully—in this reader's humble opinion—eschews paranormality.

But what this reader most admires in Rain is Cunningham's unsentimental but intensely moving style of writing. She has no need to tell you when she's touching your heart. You simply feel it.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 15, 2011 – Finished Reading
April 16, 2011 – Shelved

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