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Susan's Review

What a brave and beautiful story this is: poetic, vertiginous, tender, confronting. Miranda Darling’s brilliant novella Thunderhead evokes the psychologically precarious life of Winona Dalloway, a woman who has given up an exciting, fulfilling life to become a conventional suburban wife and mother. As the character’s surname suggests, Thunderhead draws subtly on Virginia Woolf’s classic novel Mrs Dalloway. Both novels take place over the course of a single day; and both use the women’s preparations for an evening party to question their marriage and indeed the meaning of life itself.

Thunderhead begins on a note of wry self-reflection and occasional farce, as Winona, the main character and narrator, attempts to navigate a typical, middle-class day: taking her two young boys to school, shopping for the dinner party, rushing to remember appointments with tradespeople. It soon becomes apparent, however, that something is seriously amiss: through a depiction of Winona’s inner life, we gradually discover that her charming, successful husband (Winona is wife number three) is intent on controlling her and their two vulnerable children. But Thunderhead isn’t a glossy domestic thriller; it’s a thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of mental illness — who creates the labels, and on what authority; the struggle to conform to a set of values one rejects; and the need to assert one’s autonomous selfhood, and the value of motherhood.

Winona’s attempts to control her life and thoughts is revealed through the constant making of lists as a counterpoint to the chaos of her inner life. Thunderhead is written in captivating fragments that reveal her feelings of incompetence, her performance of happiness and her constant state of fear. What eventually happens to Winona and her children will stay with you for some time.

Thunderhead is now available in hardback. I’m already looking forward to re-reading it.

Publishers Reviews

A black comedy, set in suburbia, about one woman's struggle to be free.

When Winona Dalloway begins her day - in the peaceful early hours before her children, that 'tiny tornado of little hands and feet', wake up - she doesn't know that by the end of it, everything in her world will have changed.

On the outside, Winona is a seemingly unremarkable young mother- unobtrusive, quietly going about her tasks. But within is a vivid, chaotic self, teeming with voices - a mind both wild and precise.

And meanwhile, a storm is brewing ...

'Darkly funny, astute, timely - Thunderhead's protagonist insists on being heard, and we as readers feel compelled to listen. To care. Such a fresh and lovely voice, full of humour, insight, and energy. I loved Winona - and her story.'
-Sofie Laguna

Thunderhead takes the brewing storm of domesticity and cracks it open with incredible vulnerability, generosity, and humour. At once Rachel Cusk, at once Jenny Offill, and altogether entirely Miranda Darling, this powerful, restless, irresistible novel is essential reading.'
-Laura Jean Mckay

'Set over one fever-pitched day ... It's a daring book, adopting the aesthetics of Deborah Levy with the velocity of a crime thriller and an off- kilter voice, deeply internal, darkly comic, clipped and Woolf-ish ... Thunderhead brims with magazine- style musings - all those dizzying top notes, that intertextuality, the style. It's a strong, complex and self-aware voice, and it is the primary vehicle through which we gauge Winona's resilience and determination. If The Catcher in the Rye were instead penned by a domestic violence survivor, it might read a little like Thunderhead. For fans of Melissa Broder, Elizabeth Hardwick and Edwina Preston.'
-Mel Fulton, Books+Publishing