My final blog tour of 2022, where did that year go? And what a wonderful book to be rounding off the year, it’s Fall by West Camel. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for offering me a spot and to Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.
But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that changed their lives forever.
Evocative, thought-provoking and exquisitely written, Fall is an unforgettable story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave…
I’ve had an absolutely horrible couple of weeks for various reasons and, as a result, have been subsisting on a literary diet of only Christmas books in an effort to cheer myself up and force a festive mood. Stepping outside of this groove and into the world of Fall was a jolt to the system, one which has left me profoundly moved, unsettled and with a lingering questioning about the story I have just read. I’ve left part of my soul in the world of Fall, and replaced it with a piece of the book.
There are so many ideas and issues explored in this book, that it’s hard to take in all in in the first reading, I know it is a book that needs to be returned to to squeeze all of the nuance out of it. However, the overriding theme that drew my focus and attention on the first reading was family. Familial relationships, how those bonds are forged, what makes them strong and what can break them. How much can you ever really know and understand another person, even one with whom you shared a womb, and how much do you trust them, when the bonds of trust are stretched to their limits?
The main characters in this book, twins Aaron and Clive, and their forceful mother, Zoe, are some of the most perfectly drawn characters I have read in a very long time, and it is the beauty and strength and believability of these characters that carried this book and makes it so compelling. The relationships just feel so truthful and honest. As the step-mother of a pair of twins who are currently of the age that Aaron and Clive are in 1976, when the catalytic event of the book takes place, I can see how honest the portrayal of the relationship between them is. Two people, whose lives have been completely entwined since birth, beginning to pull away and forge different paths, and then a dramatic turn of events forces a fracture. I totally bought in to the story and it slightly cracked my heart, because I can see how harmful the situation is. The actions of their mother were astounding to me, it was so obvious how damaging they could prove, and she immediately became a different, and more complex and interesting character in my eyes. The whole story left me with an aching heart and, what more can you ask from a novel, than it really makes you feel something?
West’s writing is beautiful and lyrical and illuminating. He brought not only the people but also the setting to vivid life. I have such a clear picture of the housing estate, the people that live there and the dynamic between all of the characters. This is a book that is living and breathing and vital, and reading it is an immersive and active activity, not a passive experience. I practically inhaled the novel in one sitting, not wanting to break the spell that the author wove around me, not wanting to extricate myself from the world into which he had drawn me so completely.
This is a dark, gritty and painful story of mistrust and abandonment, of broken relationships and painful experiences but, at the same time, I completely loved it. Because it was such an emotive reading experience, because it has left me with a lingering disquiet but a perverse desire to go back and draw more from the story. Because it profoundly affected me in so many different ways. A masterclass in how to write a novel. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Fall is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Do make sure you check out some of the other fabulous blogs that have taken part in the epic tour for this book, as detailed below:
About the Author
Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editorial director at Orenda with editing The Riveter magazine and #RivetingReviews for the European Literature Network.
He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. His debut novel, Attend was published in 2018, and was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. His second novel, Fall will be published in December 2021.
Connect with West: