REVIEW: All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

by |February 14, 2020
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What would you do after having written the fastest-selling Australian debut novel of the past decade? When Brisbane journalist-turned-bestselling author Trent Dalton finished hugging and thanking every bookseller, reader and bystander in the country, he talked to his daughters and he went wandering in the bush.

Trent Dalton

Trent Dalton

Two years after the release of the international blockbuster and Booktopia staff favourite Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton’s second novel is well on its way to your shelf. It’s been worth the wait – All Our Shimmering Skies is a transcendent beam of sunlight breaking through a violent tropical storm system. Set against a nostalgic yet cruel vision of Darwin and the wild, magic of Australia’s far north bushland, this is the story of a grave digger’s daughter, a California-bound actress, a Japanese fighter pilot, an Aboriginal elder in a French army coat, a family curse, treasure that falls from the sky and the extraordinary things a child will do to unburden herself of a heart of stone. Put simply, it’s a touching exploration of grief rolled into one crazed adventure.

At a bookseller event at HarperCollins’ Sydney office, Dalton listed the key influences in the genesis of his second novel. High on his list was the desire to write a story of incredible young women to follow up his own story of boyhood trauma and wonder in Boy Swallows Universe, a decision inspired by his own daughters. Dalton also spoke of his deep yearning to reconnect with his late father after the emotional outpouring of his debut. This new novel again speaks to the horrors experienced by innocents in broken homes and the ways in which they cope, as well as the unlikely places in which they find love.

Dalton also spoke at length about a long tour he took through the Northern Territory, from camping at the foot of Uluru, looking up at the infinite night sky and feeling the weight of Australia’s past, to long walks in Litchfield National Park with Aboriginal guide Tess Atie, learning about the sheer magic of the natural world and the remarkable people who are its custodians. The major impact of Atie’s contribution on his writing, along with that of her partner Greg Balding, has been profusely acknowledged by Dalton, and it shines through in this book.

All Our Shimmering Skies is the follow-up to Boy Swallows Universe we could have never imagined, but the one Dalton was destined to gift us. It’s a new tale of the Australian Gothic crossed with a psychotropic cowboy movie. It’s a story of heroes and villains, foxes and water buffalo, fighter planes and birds of prey, real magic and real love, epitaphs and aphorisms, lost treasure and lost life. It’s a love letter to the nation. It’s your favourite childhood adventure story dictated by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and William Shakespeare, with a score by Franz Liszt. It’s dead serious. It’s completely ridiculous. It’s all of these things and more.

All Our Shimmering Skies will be available from September 29th. Pre-order now to receive a signed copy.

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All Our Shimmering Skiesby Trent Dalton

All Our Shimmering Skies

Signed Copies Available

by Trent Dalton

Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger's daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance.

She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: a razor-tongued actress named Greta and a fallen Japanese fighter pilot named Yukio...

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About the Contributor

Ben is Booktopia's dedicated fiction and children's book specialist. He spends his days painstakingly piecing together beautiful catalogue pages and gift guides for the website. At any opportunity, he loves to write warmly of the books that inspire him. If you want to talk books, find him tweeting at @itsbenhunter


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