After the Fall is the great new novel by Charity Norman. On the cover, it claims that it will appeal to devotees of both Joanna Trollope and Jodi Picoult. Well, being a huge fan of both these authors, I felt in a good position to judge and I was not left disappointed. After the Fall definitely ranks along side my favourite Picoult and Trollope books.
After the Fall is set in New Zealand and follows the tremulous fortunes of the McNamara family. At the start of the book they are still living in England but struggling after Kit’s business has gone bust. The future looks bleak for Kit and his wife, Martha, especially after he starts hitting the bottle. So they decide to make a new start when Martha finds a new job in New Zealand, taking sixteen year old Sacha and five year old twins, Finn and Charlie with them. It feels like the move that they need and they are all very excited and optimistic about what the future will hold. All, apart from Sacha, who resents being uprooted from her home, her schools and her friends.
At first, it’s an idyllic existence living in their small piece of Paradise, but, not before long, things start going wrong. Things go missing, Sacha is unsettled at school, there is a burglary and worst of all, five year old Finn falls off the balcony whilst sleepwalking and ends up in Intensive Care fighting for his life. It seems that their dream is turning into a nightmare.
I won’t say any more about what happens in the story so as not to spoil what happens. I will say though that ‘After the Fall’ is a perfectly absorbing read from start to finish and it is a book that I could scarcely bring myself to put down. There’s a sense of foreboding that increases with every page that you turn and this is immensely thrilling and satisfying. It’s a well crafted novel that moves seamlessly between the past, allowing the reader to learn about all that has happened to bring the family to the point where they find themselves, and the present with the deep despair that is thrust upon them. In fact, although the book is called ‘After the Fall’, most of the story actually builds up to the point of Finn falling.
After the Fall is written in the first person and this enables the reader to get to know Martha, who is the central character, extremely well. It is very easy to empathise with her particularly at her lowest moments such as when Finn is at his most critical and also when she discovers a startling truth about another member of the family. All of the other characters are very likeable too.
I loved the fact that After the Fall is set in New Zealand and there are some wonderful descriptions of the area in which the family settles. The whole idea of making a new start over in the other half of the world is very appealing even though the McNamara’s experience wouldn’t necessarily sell it to the reader. The theme of starting over is developed really well.
I would definitely recommend After the Fall and I agree that Charity Norman definitely ranks as highly as Jodi Picoult and Joanna Trollope.
After the Fall by Charity Norman
Published by Allen and Unwin, 2012
I am most grateful to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.
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