14 March 2011

the body in the clouds

by Ashley Hay

Allen and Unwin. Australian, Fiction, History. Paperback RRP $29.99

Three men, three different times, one thing in common – Dawes Point in Sydney and what they all see from that one special spot.

Second Lieutenant William Dawes arrives in New South Wales in the late 1700s ready to explore the sky from a world away from the cultured life in England. Here in Sydney Cove there are tales of savages and animals that are larger than alligators. But Dawes sits on an outcrop and dreams of his observatory where he can lie and watch the magnificent and beautiful bright blue and white sky so different from the dreary grey colours on the other side of the globe.

Ted Parker, a young man looking for work in the 1930s, dreaming of becoming a part of the construction of the magnificent structure that will soon become the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ted sits near Dawes Point and watches with envy as the workers climbing all over the metal curves. Ted soon finds a job on the barge underneath the workers – he is happy, he is part of the ‘team’. But he still dreams of sitting on top of the world.

Dan Kopek is an expat from Australia working as a banker in London. He hasn’t been home for over ten years. It is the 21st century and the other side of the world isn’t that far anymore but Dan finds it hard to get home – to see his mother, his neighbour, best friend Charlie and Charlie’s grandfather who was Charlie’s only living relative and who also took Dan in as well. Charlie is a famous photographer and she has a special spot for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, because that’s where her grandfather flew, the only man to survive falling from the bridge whilst it was being constructed. Dan sees Charlie’s photograph advertising Sydney in the London Tube and feels it may be time to go home.

All three men are attached to Dawes Point. And what they all see - is something or someone falling from the sky. Is it part of their belief in what is real and what isn’t or is it that all three men have a bond with each other through time.

The body in the clouds is a wonderful story, a little bit of history, a little bit of a love story - with a surprising twist at the end.


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