Book Review: Dirt Music by Tim Winton

“So what did you play?”


“I mean, what kind of music.”

“Oh, I dunno. All kinds, I spose. Anythin you could play on a verandah. You know, without electricity. Dirt music.”

“As in…soil?”

“Yeah. Land. Home. Country.”

Tim Winton, Dirt Music

Title: Dirt Music
Author: Tim Winton
Genres: Literary, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 417 (Paperback)
Published: 2001

My Rating: ★★★★½
Read: 3/23/2023- 5/23/2023


Continuing with my new hobby of reading the books behind the movies Kelly Macdonald has starred in, I finally arrived at Dirt Music and savored every. single. page. Tell me a book has emotionally damaged characters and there’s no need to say more. I’m in.

Though the synopsis centers on the tragic life of Lu Fox, the book is predominantly focused on Georgie Jutland, a woman stuck in an affectionless relationship bound by secrets, hidden pasts, and in general things left unsaid. She’s drawn to Lu from the start, watching him from afar as he poaches in her fisherman boyfriend Jim’s waters. When they finally meet, she throws herself into an impulsive affair.

Alas, in a small town, there are some secrets that can’t be kept for long. When Jim gets an inkling of Georgie and Lu’s relationship, Lu takes off knowing better than to tangle with Buckridge. Georgie, too, feels like she needs to run but continues to feel stuck.

This is a slow, long-winded, description-heavy book. The first chapter alone takes up about a fourth of the book. There’s a lot of nothing going on (most of the time) in terms of action on the page. I don’t normally enjoy this pace, but there was something about the characters that drew me in. I didn’t care much for Georgie at first and she ended up being the one I cared most about. As for her romance with Lu, I didn’t care what happened with it despite it being a key element of the book.

While the book spent a long time on the mundane moments, there was also an abundance of information and characters coming and going. I couldn’t follow or retain a lot of the names and connections despite having taken my time to read and process small sections at a time. My lasting impression is a strange one. Some moments in the book left me perplexed not only wondering if particular moments were necessary to the story. Some of the characters’ actions were also unusual. So while I enjoyed the reading experience immensely, I feel as though I’ve only retained the essence rather than the plot itself.

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The themes of PTSD and trauma.
  • Relatable family dysfunction.
  • The mysterious of Jim’s character.
  • Atmospheric writing.
  • Bird!!!

What I didn’t like:

  • No quotation marks.
  • Georgie and Lu’s relationship was weird to me.
  • Way too many random characters and scenes that had nothing to do with anything else, especially later on in the book through Lu’s POV.


As far as storytelling goes, I feel as though the movie flows better because it omits so many of the extra and seemingly unrelated bits. However, the characters are more fleshed out here which I find more enjoyable. The movie definitely tames Georgie, too, and I have to admit to liking the grittier version of her more.

Where to buy the book:

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