Review Blog

Apr 03 2017

Melling sisters triology by Robin Klein

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Text Classics. Text, 2017. 
All in the Blue Unclouded Weather. ISBN 9781925498325
Dresses of Red and Gold. ISBN 9781925498332
The Sky in Silver Lace. ISBN 9781925498349
(Age: 11+) Recommended. It is time for a new generation to fall in love with the four Melling sisters as they grow up in post-war Australia. Robin Klein's heart-warming trilogy follows their trials and tribulations as they embrace the realities of small country town and city life. Each novel focuses on different events in Grace, Heather, Cathy and Vivienne's lives, as they develop their own identities, explore friendships, build relationships and creatively address their family's financial worries.
All in the Blue Unclouded Weather introduces life in rural Wilgawa, with their father away prospecting and a rather forgetful mother, the sisters creatively learn to live within their means. The youngest sister Vivienne has a vivid imagination; she escapes into the creative worlds of poetry and literary figures. She hates hand-me-down clothes and shoes and longs to visit wealthier Majorie Powell's beautiful house. The sisters argue, bicker and constantly long to be in a better social class. Klein's attention to detail - Grace's debutante dresses, cooking disasters, coping with the O'Keefe family, cousin Isobel's flights of fancy and her depth of insight into small town ways make the stories come to life.
The second novel, Dresses of Red and Gold, oldest sister Grace leaves to work in the city and study dressmaking, while the other sisters continue to cope with their dire financial constraints. Vignettes of family life include scary stories of the bogeyman, Heather's visits to cheer up the elderly, Aunt Ivy's meddlesome visit and Cath's aversion to being a bridesmaid. Dad's reappearance also is a cause for concern.
The Sky in Silver Lace concludes the trilogy, with the Mellings forced to move to the city, moving from place to place whilst waiting for the Housing Commission apartment. Heather and Cathy win places at a special girl's only secondary school; however, they are mortified at wearing second-hand uniforms. Viv's scared of city life; she is lonely and wants to make new friends. There is a sense of sadness that pervades this story, each sister has grown, changed and proved their reliance in coping with all the stresses of their family misfortunes.
Robin Klein's novels are insightful, displaying another time when children and teenagers used their creativity, imagination and resourcefulness to cope without the material pleasures and today's technology.
Rhyllis Bignell

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