PositiveThe Guardian (UK)\"For the cynical reader, Dalton’s eternal optimism can be over the top and unbelievable. But many will enjoy his writing’s undeniably and unapologetically hopeful take on characters whose lives have very little hope at hand. The characters in All Our Shimmering Skies...are larger than life ...But while the characters in his debut are grounded by the gritty realities of class, the present-day setting of the novel and Dalton’s own experience, in All Our Shimmering Skies many are just out of reach ... Dalton’s insights are best when he writes about class and the damage done by toxic masculinity ... With surprising nuance, Dalton explores the reasons that men inherit patterns of abuse at the same time as he punishes abusers and rewards his male characters who disrupt these behaviours. Perhaps the great appeal of Dalton’s writing is his tendency...to write in flowers and flourishes and to bring characters whose lives might otherwise be small to life in vivid, extraordinary (sometimes unbelievable) detail.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)The book is carefully constructed and deliberately meta, with the threads of Beckett’s play woven through every element of the narrative ... Although [Thomas\'s] writing isn’t as sparse as Beckett’s script, she limits her plot by allowing it to unfold in the silence of a theatre where its characters are, for the most part, unable to move or speak as the action on stage takes place. But far from being stagnant or dull, the result is an intimately rendered dive into the internal lives of Margo, Ivy and Summer, and the common thread of desperation as they each try to find meaning in their situations, and in the bleak knowledge of the raging bushfires ... Like Winnie’s chatty dialogue onstage, the internal monologues that make up the bulk of the chapters are lively and engaging. It is easy for each of the women, with the reader following close behind, to succumb to each train of thought as it arises, and there are moments where they follow it so deeply that the return to the theatre is a shock – even more so when they discover that Winnie’s dialogue seems to echo their innermost anxieties, as if she has read their mind. Is this the function of art – to speak the essential truths of our existence when we are unable to? ... At times the book does threaten to become too clever, the mechanisms and techniques afforded by its experimental structure sitting a little too close to the surface. Ultimately though, the way Thomas plays with the reader is a sort of genius – as Winnie searches for meaning in Happy Days, Thomas uses her performance to allow Margo, Ivy and Summer to search for meaning (and, in doing so, forces the reader to search for meaning as they read). It is contrived, but thrillingly so .. .a love letter to a play whose absurd tragic reflections of reality continue to resonate with a dying planet full of people trying to figure out what they’re meant to mean.