on 24 January 2012
I read this first book, The Girl with glass feet and was smitten. He made me believe it all could be real. That in some parts of the world there was still magic that was not truly magic, it was just life. It's not like paranormal books where you just read it but do not believe. Here, here it is different. Perhaps men can rain, and perhaps rain can come to life.
His prose is lyrical and it sucks you in, it holds on to you and it also made me feel scared. This is a town filled with superstitious people who kill that of rain and thunder. While on the mountain there lives a strange man called Finn, who is our man who rained. I feared for him.
The story is about Elsa who comes to Thundertown to start a new life. She is nice and curious and meets Finn. Who is mysterious and sweet. He shows her a world that seems to exist only in these mountains. It's a book filled with magical realism and feelings of longing, love but also hate of the unknown. And here it truly shows. That which you do not know you fear and think is dangerous. Only some give it a chance and find that we are all alike in the end.
The book is great, the writing, the story, the people in it and the world he creates. It's a place were sunbeams come to life.
It's a book I recommend because it is so real and still so magical. I can't wait for his next book and see what he comes up with then. It was simply enchanting, heartbreaking and lovely.
on 14 February 2012
If you have read The Girl with Glass Feet this is in a similar vein, so if you enjoyed the first you will probably like this. This time he is playing with the idea of personification of the weather. I enjoyed reading it, but I did feel it was a little like watching a film or tv show in the sense of having stock characters - the town bully and his sidekick, the old helpful saintly nun, the man with a cross to bear x3 (Daniel, Kenneth and Finn), the girl from the broken home and so on.
The other surprising thing to me about Ali Shaw having got round to reading his potted bio, is that he is from England ( and a man - when I read his first book I assumed Ali was a woman). His writing in both books seemed to me to have an American feel.
Elsa is a slightly unsatisfactory heroine and probably his least sympathetic character other than Sidney Moses and Abe Cosser. I found Daniel to be the most interesting in the end, probably very clever of Ali to get me to that from D's initial unfavourable appearance.
The descriptive writing is strong and the sense of place with the mountains brooding over the town is well expressed. I wouldn't want to go there though!
on 13 January 2012
When I saw that this book was released on New Year's Day I had to treat myself. I bought and really enjoyed Ali Shaw's debut novel The Girl with Glass Feet and was hoping that this one would not disappoint. I'm glad to say in my opinion that it didn't disappoint at all.
Ali Shaw has a distinctive style of writing that draws you into the story. He has the ability to write fairy tales for Adults, that are full of magic and are a joy to read. At the heart of this book is a story about relationships and maybe a touch of romance.
Elsa has always had a keen interest in the weather from an early age. It's all down to her father's interest in storms and this is his downfall in the end. It's following her father's death that Elsa re-evaluates her own relationship and her life in New York. Elsa is drawn to Thunderstown which she'd seen some years ago from a plane window. All is not as it seems in Thunderstown and the reader is soon caught up in the happenings and how day to day life differs from the 'norm'. As we are introduced to some of the inhabitants we realise that like in all good fairy tales, we have some goodies and some baddies to tell you more about these inhabitants would spoil the story as I'd prefer you all to draw your own conclusions as to which side everyone is on.
Elsa happens upon Finn Munro one day and soon realises that he is not quite what one usually expects in a man but it's her love of clouds and all things weather related that attracts her to him. This attraction doesn't please everyone and as things spiral out of control, events happen and nothing will be as it was before!
What happens and whether the story has a happy ending you'll have to read for yourself. If like me you enjoy modern well written magical fairy tales aimed at Adults then this book is for you.
When Ali Shaw's first magical novel, The Girl with Glass Feet was published in 2009, I was drawn to this adult fairy-tale like a Greek sailor to the sirens, nothing could have stopped me reading it. Luckily for me, it was good - very good. Without doubt, it was the best debut I read in 2009, and when Ali did a local event to me, he turned out to be one of the most fascinating authors I'd heard speak, I championed this book everywhere. This meant, for me though, that his second novel had an awful lot to live up to...
Elsa Beletti needs to escape - from the claustrophobia of her city life and her boyfriend. She grew up in the open spaces of Ohio, where her father was a fearless stormchaser; always happier outside, he was ultimately killed in a tornado.
"She'd seen it as a kid, when an afternoon storm had lifted the gutter of the ranch's barn, twirled it in the air like a baton, then flicked it at him. It broke his leg. Being holed up in the house while it healed made him catatonic. `I'm weather-powered, see,' he mumbled once, and it was the best way to describe him."
Elsa is drawn to a small settlement nestled amongst the mountains that she'd spied from an aeroplane window once. Thunderstown is isolated, it's a trek to get there, but she's not alone in having found this backwater which is surrounded by weather. The residents of the town are a real mixture - good and bad, traditional and modernising, jobsworth and helpful. Almost all of them however, are superstitious about the town's legendary Old Man Thunder - except Daniel Fossiter, the town's `culler' (whose job is to keep the local wild goat population in check), he has reason to think differently. One day Elsa goes hiking in the mountains, and meets a young man with rain in his veins and a thunderstorm inside him. Finn Munro is an outcast who lives alone on the mountain, and it's love at first sight. However there are many obstacles and a world of weather in the way to make this relationship one that can run smoothly...
From the first page, I was taken once again, into Shaw's world-vision. In his hands magic is entirely natural, for those that embrace it, that is. For those who don't believe, it is unexplainable and to be feared, which sets up the central conflict which powers the plot. This organic and robust approach to magic is essential in this kind of adult fairy-tale, showing both cause and effect which adds authenticity, and Shaw gets that just right with his descriptive imagery. He handles the non-magical folk well too, they're all believable, from kindly Kenneth, Elsa's landlord - a cricket-loving West Indian, and Dot, a nun who looks after those touched by lightning to the rather scary council leader Abe Cosser, who always gives Daniel a hard time.
If I hadn't read The Girl with Glass Feet first, I would have been totally wowed by The Man Who Rained. Don't get me wrong, I did love this book too, but would have liked it to be slightly more different to his debut. Both featured magical people, small town locations, and both had heroines who were lured there to find themselves - I was just expecting something else perhaps. But difficult second novel? Definitely not! The Man Who Rained is assured and engaging, a beautiful and fabulous read. I can't wait for what he comes up with next.
on 12 March 2012
`The man who rained' like Ali Shaw's first novel is very complex and works on many levels: It is both a tender love story and a story about redemption.
Elsa who is mourning the death of her estranged father leaves behind her comfortable life in New York to settle in Thunderstown.
Thunderstown is a mountainous region in an unspecified country, where extreme weather and storms are commonplace occurrences. The local people are fearful and suspicious of the weather, this leads to harsh measures including culling wild dogs and tales about `old man thunder'.
Up in the wild untamed mountains Elsa has an encounter with an unworldly young man called Finn who has `weather inside him'. Their love affair is rendered in a subtle and sweet manner.
Ali Shaw's pure writing is very lyrical and almost poetic in places: The descriptions of the landscape are particularly beautiful.
There are many interesting characters I really liked Kenneth with his fondness for brightly coloured sweaters. I also liked the way Daniel's complex character evolved to become an essential ingredient to the plot.
I loved this book I really like the way that the story is weaved, the way that landscape is linked with mood and emotions. An unusual story that kept me enthralled right from the opening page
on 29 April 2012
As others, I, too, had read and loved "The Girl with Glass Feet", and was eager to read Ali Shaw's new offering. I wasn't disappointed.
As in his first book, I found the description so rich that I could immediately see all the places; I was there in Thunderstown. I admire the author's talent with metaphor - never does it seem forced or read as though he sat with a thesaurus at hand.
I loved the story and especially Dot, the ever-so-enlightened and mystical nun. I loved the idea that all the people who had been struck by lightening were cared for at the "nunnery" (a word I found oddly yet appropriately medieval), as though there were other tales to be told in Thunderstown.
I would have liked to see the lead baddie get his comeuppance, and maybe a wisp of enlightenment begin to creep into the town, but that's just the way I am.
I was disappointed to reach the end of the book, and its atmosphere is still clinging to me. The characters are still alive to me. I look forward to the next.
on 21 February 2012
Having fallen in love with The Girl With Glass Feet, and told everyone about it, I was thrilled to find The Man Who Rained. Perhaps having been so enamoured of the first book spoiled things though. I found the second book hard going for the first half. It felt to me as though Ali Shaw had not quite worked out where he was going with the book or the characters. I couldn't see any one, nor their surroundings, but by the time I got to the middle, it felt as though it had all changed and he really knew where the story was going. From then on I couldn't put the book down and enjoyed it.
I feel his male characters are much more real than Elsa and the magic that was so amazing in Glass Feet is not quite so impressive in this book, but I would still recommend it, though perhaps not quite as highly as Glass Feet.
on 23 August 2013
It must be difficult to follow the success of an amazing first book such as Ali Shaw's The Girl With The Glass Feet so I do feel for the author but The Man Who Rained crashed and burned. Unlike his last book which was rich with imagery steeped in magic and strong in character his latest book fell flat and dull, it was a challenge just to get through it. The story, although unique, was lifeless and boring... it could have been so much more but it wasn't developed in any way. I am a big fan of mystic realism, it is one of my favourite genres but I did not like this book at all. Perhaps his next book will get back on track.
on 30 July 2012
"The man who rained" tells the story of a young woman who decides to leave New York and move to Thunderstown, a remote town surrounded by mountains and legends. There, she meets someone who changes her life for ever. That is the short and narrow of it, a "girl meets boy" in earthy tones.
This is a simple, superficial and interesting book. There aren't any entwining plots, spilling with complications and mysteries, keeping the reader almost at arms-length with information. It's straight-forward, uncomplicated.
The story draws a line and follows it through and through, like an expert trapeze artist who has walked the rope many times, steady but with an increased heart beat, the book knows where it's headed but knows it's dangerous.
The pace is a brisk walk through the park on a winters evening, it's cold, but your enjoying the grey atmosphere.
The characters are few and far between, with hardly any "befores" but memories and no "afters" but dreams and hopes.
What captivates is the scenery, which is just the one: "Thunderstown". You find yourself throughout trying hard to pronounce the name as if it wants to be as incognito as the actual place. The colour that propels through the story like its "ifs" and "buts" is a murky grey or muddy brown. The first real life setting that springs to mind on reading the scenery descriptions are the vast earthy tones that inhabit the Gran Cañon. A world of it's own separate from anything human. Connected to us through weather.
It is enjoyable and a page-turner but seeing as the book is based on weather and wind, it lacks a certain movement of space. It's a light pleasant drizzle when the earth needs a roaring thunderstorm.
on 26 May 2013
This book would've been 3.5 stars for me, if I could award it a half star on Amazon.
I really loved Ali Shaw's first novel The Girl With Glass Feet. It was such a beautiful and unusual read. I was blown away by the writing and the imagination of the author. I didn't love The Man Who Rained as much, but it was still an incredibly creative and descriptive read. I like a bit of a magical element in a book, I often find myself glued to the pages to find out what'll happen next.
What stands out in Ali Shaw's books are the descriptions. They're so well written that you imagine yourself right there in the story observing it as a bystander not a reader completely outside the imagination of the author. Yet, the metaphors used don't feel forced at all. It flows completely naturally and adds to the beauty of the story. The only thing that didn't flow beautifully was the story as a whole. I enjoyed reading it but it felt like something was missing. I can't quite pinpoint what.
The Man Who Rained isn't as deep or poignant as The Girl With Glass Feet was, which is why I think I didn't enjoy it as much. However, I do think it's worth reading, even if you just read it to experience some beautiful writing and imagery.