- Hardcover: 370 pages
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company; 1 edition (Jan. 7 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316097802
- ISBN-13: 978-0316097802
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 635 g
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #548,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Fall Hardcover – Jan 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Uncommonly wise and painstakingly crafted, this tale of struggles on personal and physical slopes ranges from present-day Wales to blitz-era London, tracking two generations of tangled love affairs. It begins with the death of acclaimed mountain climber Jamie Matthewson near his home in craggy North Wales. When Jamie's childhood friend Rob Dewar goes to visit Matthewson's widow, Ruth, the novel steps backwards in time to recount the story of Jamie's relationship with Rob and Ruth. From their childhood onwards, Jamie and Rob share a love of mountain climbing, of the sheer danger involved in it. The two men are rivals as athletes but also as lovers, as they compete for the love of many women-from Ruth, a drifting free-spirited artist who eventually marries Jamie, to Jamie's mother herself. As Ruth's relationship with Jamie evolves, it does not necessarily cool with Rob, straining the friendship between the two. Mawer gradually reveals that the complications began before either Jamie or the narrator were born, describing the kindling of romance between Jamie's father, himself a mountain climber, Rob's mother and Jamie's mother in England during the heady years of World War II. Although the mountain-climbing descriptions sometimes threaten to overpower the novel with their intensity, their metaphorical significance always wins out. Mawer has created characters and situations that overflow with truly believable pain and exhilaration, and he endows the narrative with a surging energy that pushes the book forward, all the way to an end which, like the final line of a haiku, casts a startling light on everything that came before it.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Like his father before him, Jamie Matthewson is a world-class mountain climber and, like his father before him, meets his death while pursuing his passion with a recklessness that fails to exorcise his relentless demons. When Jamie falls during a routine climb in his native Wales, and not on the slopes of Everest as his father had, his death seems more intentional than accidental. For Rob Dewar, Jamie's childhood friend and onetime climbing partner, Jamie's death occasions a fall of his own, a tumble back in time in which he unleashes an avalanche of family secrets that will dangerously bind the two men together in ways neither could ever have imagined. Sons and mothers, husbands and wives, friends and lovers: in Mawer's masterful hands, none of these relationships are what they seem. Intricately weaving time and place, from the bombed-out ruins of World War II London to isolated Alpine mountain peaks, Mawer crafts a sinuously devastating tale of forbidden love and faithless betrayal. A haunting and mesmerizing novel from an expert storyteller. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Rob Dewer hears on the car radio that his old friend and mountain climbing partner, Jamie Matthewson, has fallen to his death while making an almost suicidal solo climb. Although the two men have not been in touch for years, the news hits Dewer hard, stirring up a series of memories and strong, unresolved feelings from long ago. He immediately turns his car towards Wales and begins a journey, not only to bring comfort to Matthewson's widow, his old friend and former lover, Ruth, but into the past where decades old secrets and betrayals are disclosed.
Author Simon Mawer writes, "At some time or other you must confront your past. We are our past...There is nothing else, and none of it can be undone." Mawer visits the past of a group of people who are intimately connected through friendship, love, lust, jealousy, competition, hatred and blood ties. The enormous power of some of Mawer's characters is almost overwhelming at times, as is their extreme fragility and vulnerability. His prose is masterful and poignant. The plot is riveting, compelling, almost brutal, in its honesty. I have never been very interested in the sport of climbing, but Mawer's narrative transported me, time and time again, on exhilarating treks up mountainsides; the action so vividly described that I felt that I was one of the climbers. His descriptions of landscapes, both fierce and bucolic, are as visual as paintings. Mawer is indeed a master craftsman.
This is a novel of love, of moral choices and decisions that life forces us to make. Sometimes the repercussions of these decisions echo into the future, for generations to come. This is truly one of the most amazingly original novels I have read in years and it has effected me deeply. I cannot praise "The Fall" highly enough!
As exciting as the mountaineering passages are, this is not primarily an adventure story. With its title connoting the fall of Adam and Eve, the novel deals with huge, complex questions of love and loss, life and death, and truth and responsibility. The story of whether Jamie's death was accidental or suicide, which seems so straightforward and plot-driven on the surface, becomes far more intricate, as the reader is guided back and forth in time, sharing the lives of Rob and Jamie as young teenagers, the lives and interrelationships of their mothers during World War II, the life and loves of famed mountaineer Guy Matthewson (Jamie's father), and the lives of Rob and Jamie and their lovers when they are in their twenties.
Because of the many interrelationships among the characters--love affairs, seductions, pregnancies both planned and unplanned, and even sexual abuse--some of the most sensational events in the novel take place not on the mountainside but in the bedroom. These scenes often combine the imagery of sex with that of falling, and contrast the subjective reality of love and life with the objective reality posed by danger in the mountains, especially with its death and loss.
Heaven and hell, sin and redemption, love and loss, honesty and betrayal, and ultimately life and death are all combined here in a vibrant novel which provides fast action and crises both on the mountain and in the personal lives of the characters over two generations. Though there are some clichés, along with some awkwardness in the plotting (especially in the predictable ending), this is a strong, dramatic novel which may become a popular breakthrough for Mawer. Mary Whipple
Years later, his comfort zone is shaken when he learns that his oldest friend and former partner, Jamie Matthewson, has fallen to his death after a dangerous solo climb. Robert veers back toward his past despite his wife's objections and heads to Wales to comfort Jamie's attractive grieving widow, Ruth. Eve Dewar awaits her husband's return and wonders how delving into the past might change him.
This detour places Robert in the company of Caroline, Jamie's eccentric mother, a woman for whom Robert's mother once harbored an unexplained level of disdain. Time has softened Caroline's rough edges, yet her mind is sharp.
Conversely, Robert's mother, Diana, sits in a retirement home with her mind slowly fading. Guy Matthewson, once married to Caroline and a pivotal part of the story, remains frozen on a mountainside so high up that he will probably never be recovered.
All events collide.
Despite the unnecessary use of the same four-letter word in varying forms by different characters, Simon Mawer has written a lovely book. The characters magically spring forth from the page and dance before the reader. His natural narrative style and use of tension blend together wonderfully to create a powerful story of love and deception.
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