Susan Midalia's Review
Set in a fictitious rural location in late-nineteenth-century South Australia, The Sun Walks Down is a thoroughly engaging exploration of the hardships, hierarchies and moral flaws of a community struggling to eke out a living on the land. It self-consciously uses the familiar trope in Australian fiction of the lost white child, and in the process creates a memorable range of characters across racial and economic divides, among them farmers, police, black trackers, a prostitute, a hapless vicar, long-suffering mothers and vexatious sisters. The novel is informed by an ethically astute understanding of the colonial mentality that seeks to control and conquer, and it offers a brilliant evocation of a particular Australian landscape: variously hostile or indifferent to human activity, ruggedly beautiful, dangerous. The Sun Walks Down can also be unexpectedly humorous: McFarlane has a keen ear and eye for pomposity, hypocrisy and self-delusion. This work of historical fiction is a new and admirable venture for this relatively young writer, whose two previous works were contemporary in setting and sensibility. It’s an immersive, convincing account of the past which creates a strong sense of different voices, and which asks us to understand rather than merely judge the characters’ often limited understanding of the fears and desires that drive them towards unknown places and people.
'The Sun Walks Down is the book I'm always longing to find: brilliant, fresh and compulsively readable. It is marvellous. I loved it from start to finish.' Ann Patchett, author of These Precious Days
'Gorgeous storytelling and superb characters are among the glories of The Sun Walks Down. Fiona McFarlane is an extraordinary writer, one of the best working today. Her magnificent reworking of the lost child story showcases the profound understanding she brings to people, places and the past. I lived in this wise, majestic novel for days and never wanted it to end.' Michelle de Kretser, dual Miles Franklin-winning author of Scary Monsters
'Accomplished, assured, elegant and insightful - this beautifully told novel took me on the most unexpected and compelling of journeys. I adored it.' Sofie Laguna, Miles Franklin-winning author of Infinite Splendours
'The Sun Walks Down is an extraordinary work of fiction that I have no doubt will become a classic of Australian literature. McFarlane's writing is assured, masterful, nothing short of brilliant.' Emily Bitto, Stella Prize-winning author of The Strays and Wild Abandon