The year the Hydro Majestic Hotel failed as a hydropathic institute Harry Kitchings fell in love with the air and stayed. Les Curtain began to feel the dusk in his lungs. It was a romantic year. Men carried thermometers and dreamed of women struck by lightning. Postmen hauled packets filled with love and human hair. Women carried notebooks and pressed storms in them like flowers. You could feel our love rising from the mountaintops. At least that is how Harry Kitchings might tell it.What were we in love with?It is 1907 and the Blue Mountains are filled with the grand dreams of elsewhere. Eureka Jones, a young pharmacist's assistant with historical eyes, falls in love with Harry Kitchings, a man who takes pictures of clouds and succumbs to the "madness of photography". Their love turns the mountains sapphire blue.Set in a vast landscape haunted by sadness and the stories of romance which drift across it, The Service of Clouds combines the lushness of Marquez and the tenderness of Ondaatje to explore passion, illness, and the secret desires men and women bring to mountains.What the critics said:'The introduction of photography into the Australian Blue Mountains is an unlikely subject for a debut novel. Reading it is like watching a picture slowly emerge in a developing tank. But what a picture, and what a writer.'-Economist Review'...an exuberant meditation on the "history of the air," the art of seeing and the end of romance as the pre-moderns knew it'-New York Times Book Review'...a delight to read, but I feel that it will become an even richer work as I sit with it, and absorb its layers, and its grace'-Australian Book Review'...theme and metaphor dovetail seamlessly, shaped as they are by Falconer's poetic vision. It is such a joy to read a novelist who writes with all the precision and exuberance of a poet'-Sydney Morning Herald
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Delia Falconer lives in Sydney. Her short stories and essays are widely anthologised, including in 'Best Australian Stories', 'Best Australian Essays' and the 'Penguin Century of Australian Short Stories'. 'The Service of Clouds' was shortlisted for five national awards, including the Miles Franklin, and published in the US and Europe.
The Service of Clouds by Delia Falconer
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