Read Rain Birds by Harriet McKnight Online


Alan and Pina have lived contentedly in isolated – and insular – Boney Point for thirty years. Now they are dealing with Alan’s devastating early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As he is cast adrift in the depths of his own mind, Pina is left to face the consequences alone, until the arrival of a flock of black cockatoos seems to tie him, somehow, to the present.Nearby, conseAlan and Pina have lived contentedly in isolated – and insular – Boney Point for thirty years. Now they are dealing with Alan’s devastating early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. As he is cast adrift in the depths of his own mind, Pina is left to face the consequences alone, until the arrival of a flock of black cockatoos seems to tie him, somehow, to the present.Nearby, conservation biologist Arianna Brandt is involved in a project trying reintroduce the threatened glossy black cockatoos into the wilds of Murrungowar National Park. Alone in the haunted bush, and with her birds failing to thrive, Arianna’s personal demons start to overwhelm her and risk undoing everything.At first, when the two women’s paths cross, they appear at loggerheads but – in many ways – they are invested in the same outcome but for different reasons.Ultimately, unexpected events will force them both to let go of their pasts and focus on the future.Rain Birds is a powerful and lyrical novel about love, grief and loss, one that examines personal tragedy as set against global and environmental responsibilities, and how we negotiate our often-conflicting ideals....

Title : Rain Birds
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781863959827
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Rain Birds Reviews

  • Rikki Jade
    2019-03-02 01:34

    I quite liked this book, but I reckon it's more of a 3.5 star for me. Look, I read books with nature themes and references a lot because I read a lot of contemporary Australian fiction and it is a common occurrence, but that aspect is not my favourite part. I liked so many aspects of the story - the characters' pasts in particular, as well as the incorporation of indigenous land rights issues and domestic violence, but many of these threads didn't feel fulfilled or reconciled - which I get can be symbolic of the dementia theme but it left me feeling a bit flat at the end. Still totally worth a read but in between 3 and 4 stars for me!

  • Susie Amiatu
    2019-03-13 08:29

    Rain Birds tells two parallel stories that eventually intersect. The first story is of a married couple, Pina and Alan, as they live through the progression of the Alan's early onset Alzheimer's. The second story is one of animal conservation. A young woman heads a project to reintroduce Glossy Black Cockatoos in to the wild that have been reared in captivity in the hope of increasing their population. She has a dark past that is revealed as the book progresses, and the story ultimately intersects with Alan and Pina's story, as Pina clutches on to the idea that the Cockatoos somehow have meaning to Alan.I found the depiction of Alzheimer's to be incredibly accurate, the story was well written, and the backdrop of rural Australia was richly atmospheric and a joy to read.

  • Odette
    2019-03-02 05:32

    Rain Birds is set in a rural community in Gippsland, adjacent to a national park. There are initially two story lines: Pina and Alan struggling with Alan's alzheimers condition; and Arianna and Tim, two researchers from the Australian National University who are monitoring the release of glossy black cockatoos into a natural environment.I liked the descriptive and suspenseful style of writing and the memorable though somewhat damaged characters. The feeling of trepidation seems to build up as the story progresses like a storm. I thought the ending was very satisfying and as in life nothing is perfect.I highly recommend this book and thank the author and Black Ink for this book which I won as a giveaway.

  • Tricia Riley
    2019-02-22 08:29

    I received this book as a goodreads giveaway. Pina lives with her husband Alan out in the bush. Alan has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is gradually getting worse. Pina is constantly being told that it might be better to put Alan in care but she is battling on, trying to keep him at home as long as possible. The only thing that gets him under control are the black cockatoos.Near to Pina's property biologist Arianna is heading a program to release a threatened species of black cockatoos into the wild. This is part of a grant being funded by a local (and unpopular) mining company. Arianna is a control freak with some serious unresolved issues from her childhood. When the cockatoos fly out of the release zone and on to Pina's property, Arianna begins to unravel.I liked this book but the ending was a bit odd. The story was good and it was an easy read. I also liked how fast paced this book was. It is an author I will definitely keep an eye on for the future.

  • Andrew Hall
    2019-03-09 02:45

    I won this delightful book in a goodreads giveaway. The manner in which multiple subjects are addressed in this book is so well done. The two main characters and their struggles are perfectly drawn, with the events in their lives and the impact these have on them well presented to make the reader sympathetic to what they are going through. Thou rough enjoyed this book.

  • Library_geek
    2019-02-26 01:47

    I felt like I was looking back at three years ago as I began reading this book, instead or Pina and Alan it was my mum and dad and I felt like author Harriet McKnight was telling their story. McKnight has put into words what I have been trying to, capturing those moments, days and hours that someone you love and have loved for so long becomes almost a stranger. ‘It’s me, Your wife.’There were many heartbreaking moments in the book as Pina & Alan’s story was being told, both their journey the same but oddly different. One with memory and the ability to function as an adult, the other no longer himself – childlike, angry, aggressive, yet fragile.Nearby, there is Arianna who is introducing the beautiful black cockatoos into the Murrungowar National Park. Being taken on a journey herself as she spirals into what can only be called chaos, as her obsession with the cockatoos masking, and eventually giving into things that have haunted her mind and being from time past.Both journeys different but intertwining in an unexpected but somewhat fitting way, and while Pina and Arianna are not kindred spirits, the black cockatoos and Alan’s responsiveness see them invested in the same outcome. McKnight has so beautifully capture the Victorian wilderness, you get a sense of being there – the smells, the open spaces, the trees dark at night. Being Australian, I understand very well the dry grass, the hot winds and the fierce summer sun that turns this story on its ends. As I turned each page I could smell that hazy smoke and my eyes almost watered thinking about it, knowing that what McKnight wrote was very real.The character development was well done, Pina intrigued me somewhat but Alan remained a mystery to me which is what Alzheimer’s does to a person. I would love to have known him before Rain Birds because he seemed like a loveable and interesting person, with a little quirkiness on the side.I did not see Arianna’s spiral downwards coming until the very last frantic moments, I kept thinking she would pick herself up, that she would understand that the cockatoos had chosen their new home because they were happy there. While we discover throughout that her insecurities come from elsewhere I felt early in the novel that she would be a stronger character and not one hiding hurt. You can tell the author had a clear vision from the outset and always knew Arianna.The author has very realistically captured the subject of Alzheimer’s and dementia, the actions of Alan portrayed so accurately, his mannerisms, change in demeanor, a person lost. While the dementia part of the story did feature heavily I feel it was balanced well with Arianna, the cockatoos and some other sideline stories about a couple of the other townsfolk.This is an outstanding piece of writing and I have been recommending it to people since I finished the last page. I appreciate so much our Australian authors bringing to us readers such good quality fiction, where our country is celebrated and stories resonate with us.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-18 07:41

    I had no idea of what this story would be like when I started to read it, so I came to it with out any expectations, other than that the blurb on the back cover really intrigued me. And I was not disappointed. It was sad and touching reading about Pina and Alan's relationship before his diagnosis of Alzheimers, and then its unravelling after. Arianna's family history of domestic violence and its ongoing effect on her was another sad backdrop to the story. It appears that both Pina and Arianna either were experiencing, or had experienced an unravelling of their most significant domestic relationships and they were searching for a way to make sense of it and weave it back into something coherent for themselves. In many ways, probably the most significant theme of this book is change and the limits of our agency in change. We don't always get to dictate which change occurs, nor its trajectory. The birds and the fire represent this, they had their own imperatives to follow. Wild things and wild events, as well as other people, don't always conform to our will. So the more we try to regain control, the more out of control things get, until we accept the path that we are on. This was emblematic in not only Arianna's bird release program, but also Pina's determination that the birds must mean something. Both women appeared to be trying to sort the events into a form that made sense for them. Even the title 'Rain Birds', and the belief that black cockatoos bring rain (something I had heard spoken of before) is really us imposing our wishes on them.Both women ultimately came to a better understanding of the path they were on. They both clearly had grieving to do, and I wouldn't say they got their happy endings. However, the resolution of their stories was realistic and poignant.McKnight's writing about those witnessing loved ones with Alzheimers was spot on. And her depiction of the bush in the summer heat and just before a fire was very evocative. She captured the helplessness and the heroism of those in this sort of situation exceptionally well. Her writing was very well paced. While I wouldn't put it in the thriller genre, it still had quite a page-turning quality. I would say that it was one of those books where I start reading it and think, this is quite good, and then before I know it I realise that I am reading a very good book.This is a wonderful story about change, how we deal with it and how we manage the consequences of trying to resist it.

  • Clare Rhoden
    2019-02-23 06:26

    The dementia sequence of this novel is absolutely brilliant, evocative and moving. I highly recommend it to anyone (and BTW that's most of us) who might come into contact with people suffering from this dreadful disease.The second theme - of the university staff monitoring the release of cockatoos back into the wild - I found less successful. I don't know of any uni which would spare two full time staff to camp in the bush (wihtout so much as a composting toilet!) for four months (24 hours a day!) straight on such a project. No meetings to attend, no students to teach, no reports to write, no supervisors to pacify, no papers being written, no grad students to do the grunt work of data collection, no honours or masters or PhD or even undergrad papers to read and mark. I found that rather weird. Perhaps it happens - I know of uni staff visiting antarctica for weeks at a time - but I kept being interrupted by sneaking thoughts of 'how do they get to do this?', which rather interrupted the story's flow. On top of that, the poor woman was suffering horribly from a mental health disorder which was apparently undiagnosed, unrecognised, untreated in both work and social environments. Very sad.That said, the confluence of birds, bushfire, and life-changing decisions was neatly rendered. I'll be looking for more of this author because I very much like the way she writes. If I'd never worked at a uni, I probably would have had no qualms at all.

  • Kolumbina
    2019-03-06 04:43

    An interesting book, debut by a new Australian writer.H. McKnight masterfully interweaved 2 stories in an isolated country town, Boney Point. A couple without children married for 30 years, Alan 64 year old man suffering from Alzheimer and his wife Pina trying to look after him.At the same time, a parallel story about scientists from Uni of Canberra involved in reintroducing black cockatoos into the national park, not too successfully. Really well written. I suffered with Pina, life was really hard on her. And Alan changed so much in his illnes, he was mean, unrecognisable, completely a different person. And problems with black cockatoos brought me the memories of my previous job at University. Indeed convincing. Couldn't put the book down, very involving. Loved it.Looking forward to future books by H. McKnight.

  • Meg
    2019-03-13 08:20

    When do you let go and move on? Pina and Arianna are two different women, but both are experiencing loss. Alan, Pina's husband, dementia is progressingly getting worse, and Pina is still saying "It's me, I'm your wife". Arianna is damaged by her upbringing and isolates herself from others while trying to reintroduce black cockatoos into the the Murrungower National Park in Victoria. Both can't leave their loves. McKnight sets the story in Boney Point, East Gippsland Victoria, and her themes are thoroughly researched. Her descsriptions of the landscape, and personal decisions that torment Pina and Arianna are well presented. You will empathise with these characters.

  • Helen
    2019-03-09 02:38

    I really enjoyed this book that touched on many issues, all wrapped up into one story: relationships; mental illness; the environment/conservation; team dynamics; the nature of small towns; Alzheimers/dementia; and carers. Enjoyable, easy read. I'm looking forward to reading more from Harriet McKnight.

  • Anna
    2019-03-06 07:40

    This is of a genre I normally would not read. I found the Australian setting for the story interesting and the subject good. I would have preferred more depth particularly in the dementia aspect.

  • Carol Mason
    2019-03-07 06:25

    A very heartwarming but gutwrenching story with a fascinating storyline that I really enjoyed and look forward to more from this author

  • Kirsten
    2019-03-18 03:25

    A disappointing narrative but one of the most accurate depictions of dementia that I've read in fiction.

  • Jane
    2019-03-08 07:37

    An absorbing book about two women wrestling with personal demons who are brought together by a flock of threatened black cockatoos. Sounds like an odd premise but it was a good read.

  • Maria
    2019-03-09 04:24

    A wonderfully written book about personal tragedy, love and loss. An easy read which keeps you interested all the way through.

  • Danielle
    2019-03-10 07:37

    Raw and powerful. Review coming soon.