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Cloud Nine


Cloud Nine

CLOUD NINE opens with Sarah Talbot drinking tea, enjoying the
autumn sun in upstate New York, and dreaming of her home on Elk
Island, Maine. This innocuous beginning doesn't give any hint of
the tragedies Sarah has endured or will endure. You might not
suspect that she has survived a cancerous brain tumor, dropped out
of college to save the family farm, or has a teenage son who ran
away from home when she became ill.

The opening scene does tell us, however, that Luanne Rice is a
skilled storyteller whose narrative is warm, comforting, stormy,
and filled with pure emotion. All of the elements you might expect
from the New England coast, sunshine, and apples.

CLOUD NINE follows Sarah's relationship with Will Burke, a charter
pilot with an ex-wife and a troubled teenage daughter. Of course,
Will and Sarah fall in love (they are, predictably, the last ones
to discover the depth of their feelings for each other). His
presence helps her relax with her estranged family and she accepts
his daughter, Susan. Susan, by the way, only wears her deceased
brother's socks --- an example of her personality quirks. These odd
little facts lend authenticity to a familiar tale, making Sarah
Talbot's world more believable.

Her story is filled with cataclysmic events --- much like a daytime
drama. In the course of one weekend, Will saves Sarah's son,
Michael, from drowning (something he couldn't do for his own son);
thereby easing his guilt. Sarah persuades Michael to return with
her to New York. Her father explains his silence around her as a
symptom of his anguish over her mother's death. Finally, Sarah
suffers a relapse and survives a plane crash.

Don't worry, though, everyone discovers love just in time to tell
Sarah. Due to Rice's ability to describe the significant moments in
life, this story is heart-wrenching and spirit-warming. She has an
eye for humorous and revealing details. She conveys the
all-consuming concern Will feels for his daughter in the
disinterest he shows for a hot dog piled temptingly "high with
relish, chili, and onions." It is a small, almost insignificant
moment, but Rice uses it well. She allows Sarah to notice,
describing Will through Sarah's eyes as "a man with something
weighing heavy on his mind."  We might expect Rice to
follow up this observation with a touching moment of revelation
between Sarah and Will. Instead, Sarah admits she didn't know him
well enough to ask. The combination of sentiment and honesty allows
us to sympathize with their false assumption that they are

A seasoned storyteller, Rice uses emotion, depicted thoughtfully,
to make CLOUD NINE more than just another made-for-television
movie. Rice lays bare the uncertainty of life and promotes the
certainty of family. She makes it clear that Sarah would not have
had the strength to face death again without rediscovering her
son's love and finding Will.

After reading CLOUD NINE, your thoughts will be of family --- your
mother, father, son, daughter, or lover. This novel will make you
cry, chuckle, and, most of all, remember to love.

Reviewed by Amee Vyas on January 21, 2011

Cloud Nine
by Luanne Rice

  • Publication Date: January 4, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 055358099X
  • ISBN-13: 9780553580990