Review: The Turning, Tim Winton

January 16, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: The Turning, Tim WintonThe Turning by Tim Winton
Published by Penguin Australia on 21st September 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 270
Source: Netgalley
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

Here are turnings of all kinds – changes of heart, nasty surprises, slow awakenings, sudden detours – where people struggle against the terrible weight of the past and challenge the lives they've made for themselves.

Beautifully crafted, and as tender as they are confronting, these elegiac stories examine the darkness and frailty of ordinary people and celebrate the moments when the light shines through.

“Time doesn’t click on and on at the stroke. It comes and goes in waves and folds like water; it flutters and sifts like dust, rises, billows, falls back on itself.”


Tim Winton is a beloved Australian author. I have only read one other novel by him (Breath), and I can certainly see a pattern emerging.

He writes about life in Australia. It’s gritty. It’s real. You can actually feel yourself immersed in the culture and people of another time and another place (for those of us who did not grow up in Australia). There is no ‘rose-tinted’ filter to his stories, yet I did get a sense of some nostalgia and some regret.

The Turning is a collection of short stories all centring around a small fictional town in Western Australia. The stories are all mostly vaguely connected and work well as a novel, but could also be stand-alone as well. He tells the tale of the people of Angelus focusing on one character in particular – Victor Lang. I think Victor featured in nine of the seventeen stories. He is a damaged man trapped in his adolescent past – and Winton allows us to witness some very important moments in his life through the eyes of his mother, his father, his wife, even a girl who has a crush on him in school.

Along with Vic there are some other very memorable characters: An abused woman who develops and interest in the Christian couple who recently moved into the neighbourhood; a strange relationship between the school bad boy and the smart yet ostracised girl; and a girl with a strawberry scar.

It was a good read. Fans of Tim Winton will love it. The Turning was originally published in 2005 and has won numerous Australian Literary awards.  In 2013 it was made into a movie starring Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Hugo Weaving and a host of other acclaimed Auzzie actors.

So why only 3.5 stars? As well written and poignant as this book is, I don’t think it is one I will be tempted to read again. Having said that, I think I will undoubtedly read more of Winton’s work.


Natasha lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son. She is a self confessed bibliophile who enjoys literature and adult fiction. She also loves travelling and aims to visit 40 countries by the time she is 40 (current count 36).

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