5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
When hubby and I were renovating the money pit we now call home we got to know a fair few local tradesmen. A year later we bought an investment flat and mostly asked the same tradesmen back again. In the meantime one of their wives had self-immolated. Even typing it gives me goose bumps. There I am, standing in a soon-to-be-kitchen, while a man I barely know tells me...
Published 22 days ago by What Cathy Read
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heading back.
At first, I couldn't get on with this - too sad, too quirkily presented for me - but I returned to it in the light of the Costa book award win and persevered, ultimately finding it to be a touching and empathetic read.
Some of Matt's thoughts seemed a little too conveniently contrived - one could almost feel the author 'sitting on his narrator's shoulder' - and...
Published 10 months ago by Sue Kichenside
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking-a real page turner!,
I could not put this book down! I was hooked from the start, and felt enormous sympathy for the main characters. The way the plot was gradually revealed was extremely clever, and his deep background knowledge of the subject was both obvious and key to the novel's success.
4.0 out of 5 stars Review or political rant?,
You can tell that The Shock of The Fall is written by someone with experience of mental health, the voice of Matt sounds very authentic. His mental health condition seems realistic too, it is not unknown for a serious emotional event (such as the death of a brother) to trigger (schizophrenia), and it is often part of what will make up the (schizophrenic) episodes too. What makes it even more authentic is that it is narrated by Matt himself. It’s not like seeing a (schizophrenic) episode, where it can be quite obvious that the person is unwell. You can rarely be 100% sure if what Matt is experiencing is ‘real’ or part of his illness.
Matt’s family are obviously important to him. They are like his rock. The way he talks about his Nan, and , most notably, Simon shows how much he loves them. They are both easily the most likeable characters. Matt himself? Maybe not likeable, but that works. If he was more likeable it would make the story less realistic, because of the ways he sees himself.
I do wonder a bit if Filer is having a bit of a bash at the government for it’s cuts to the NHS. An important thing which happens in the book is caused by budget cuts, and is one of the things which gets cut in reality too. On the day I originally wrote this review there had been a piece on radio 4 about how the waiting times for talking therapies are effecting patients. According to a study by We Need to Talk 1 in 6 patients awaiting treatment attempt suicide. To have to wait at all is pretty bad, but it really shouldn’t get to this state. For someone with mental health difficulties to ask for help is often the first step towards getting better. It’s like taking one step on a stair and finding a wall in the way, isn’t the easiest option to step back?
Sorry this has turned into somewhat of a political rant.
The Shock of the Fall was the winner of the Costa Prize. It’s what prompted me to look at it, but it still is the sort of thing that I would have wanted to read. Was it worth the prize? Maybe. I’m not sure I would say it has literary greatness (whatever that is…). It’s too…conversational, but actually in terms of readability and reader connection that makes a good book, for me at least.
In the US The Shock of the Fall is renamed to Where the Moon isn’t. Why? I don’t know (maybe I could find out). I’m not sure I like it though. The Shock of the Fall seems like a strange name to start off with. However when you finish it seems like a pretty perfect name. I won’t say why, spoilers. Where the Moon Isn’t sort of fits though. You know what they say about the moon and mental illness.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shock of the Fall,
The Shock of the Fall has a non-chronological narrative pieced together by protagonist Matthew and describes the gradual process - beginning with the early death of his brother Simon, who has Down's Syndrome, during a childhood holiday - that leads up to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
You could be forgiven for thinking this sounds depressing, but in fact it rarely is - it's certainly desperately sad at times, and you'll often find yourself frustrated with Matt and some of the choices he makes, but there's plenty of wry, observant humour and a great deal of warmth, particularly in some of Matt's family relationships (Nanny Noo, his ever-patient grandmother, is a delight).
According to his author bio, Nathan Filer still works as a mental health nurse on an in-patient ward, and The Shock of the Fall is certainly a brilliantly vivid and realistic journey into the UK's mental health care system and the slow development of Matt's condition. Lots of reviewers have talked about Matt's schizophrenia being 'caused' by Simon's death, but in fact The Shock of the Fall makes it very clear that things just aren't as simple as this: there are no clear answers. The story refers in passing to many other possible contributing factors, from a family history of mental illness to heavy cannabis use in Matt's early teens. Filer also takes care to drop various early clues to Matt's condition into the story, but impressively manages to do so without ever drawing obvious attention to what must have been his extremely thorough research.
However, Simon's premature death is still central to the novel, and only as the story begins to draw to a close do we find out exactly what happened to him. Simon, even in his absence, becomes a major character in his own right, and when Matt's hallucinations begin to take Simon's form, it's almost as if Simon was too big an influence on Matt's family to stay dead. The challenge they face is finding the best way to remember him.
I've seen several critics liken this book to Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and I can certainly see why they'd make that comparison. Like Haddon's novel (which I also enjoyed), The Shock of the Fall is remarkably insightful in its depiction of the thought processes of someone whose mind works in a way that's strongly atypical, and it's also similarly revealing in terms of the pressures placed on the protagonist's family and friends, all of whom are flawed in their own right and often realistically out of their depth.
I found The Shock of the Fall gripping, heartbreaking and touching, and I'm struggling to find any real fault with it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful,
This book gave a really interesting perspective on mental health issues within a heartbreaking story of grief and growing up. It raises questions about the need for support, the impact on the family and relationships.
3.0 out of 5 stars I tried real hard to like it better than I did,
I tried real hard to like it better than I did. The narrative was somewhat confusing and I 'lost the plot' half way through, not sure which events preceded which (except for the obvious). This however, was not the book's greatest weakness; the main character, Matthew, is unconvincing and so is his illness. We actually get to know him very little and I feel there was a big blank gap between his brother dying and him ending up in the mental care. The years of withdrawal from school and the school years, which one would have thought should be crucial to portrait the birth of his schizophrenia, lack in depth and intensity of emotions. The figure of Matthew's mother, truly disturbed character, is regretfully only sketched with a very thick pencil while it seems she, and her overwhelming distress, had a significant influence on Matthew. Not to mention that she and her mental condition could have been a story in its own right! There were nice passages here and there (and descriptions from the author's own experience), touching the very nerve of the illness as seen through Matthew's eyes but overall not enough to truly feel and live the story, which I guess was the author's intention. I wanted to engage but the connection just did not happen. Oliver Sack's 'The man who mistook his wife for a hat' was way more insightful!
(And what's Annabelle's role in the book?)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am grateful for books like these,
Since the sudden, completely unexpected loss of my mother last year I find I grave to read about the loss other people experience. I know this book is fictional. But there is something extremely authentic about the thoughts and actions of the main character or at least in how they are being described. That and a very beautiful way with words made me love this book while I read it and I have collected quite a few of its paragraphs for my clippings collection. Thank you Mr. Nathan Filer for creating this book.
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut, powerful and thought provoking.,
One of my more unique reads this one, I was wary of the hype around it, but really enjoyed reading it. I love the way the book is written, for a debut novel it's quite exceptional, it's an emotion stirring book and thought provoking too.
It's essentially the story of a young man's descent into mental illness, from childhood events to trying to live as an independent adult and on to life in a mental health care facility.
What is spectacular about this book is how immersed in our main character you get, he is telling the story of his life, his feelings, thoughts, his mental illness, it's a bit like sitting in the room with someone, listening avidly to their life story. And feeling things along the way.
The book cleverly gives you snippets of a story, then later on you get more of that story to give you the fuller picture, so there is a lot of a-ha moments, at least there was for me. I found it sad in parts, I really felt for his struggle against the illness that has hold of him, his moving between lucidity and delusion. Epically done.
Is it worth all the hype and a must read book? I think so. It's just different from almost all the books I have read this year. I found it easy to read, interesting, thought provoking and powerful with it's message sent. 4 stars from me. I really liked this one.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing new talent,
What a wonderful novel. It is a rare thing to find a book that you quite literally can't bear to put down, and even rarer to emerge from a book feeling kinder than you were before you started it. Filer does that amazing thing that some writers do, where they transfer an entire person right into your head; and afterwards you miss them like a friend. The voicing is perfect, the language beautiful, the rhythms unbearable. Can't wait for his next one. What a talent.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional,
This is the first time in my life that a book has made me cry!
I work as support staff with adults who have mental health conditions and I found this book very accurate in a lot of ways. I see people suffering from their conditions in a very similar way and have done for the majority of their lives.
I also found the link between grief and mental health very interesting.
I recommend tissues for the last four chapters! I will be recommending this book to my colleagues.
5.0 out of 5 stars A True to Life Account of Mental Illness,
Nathan Filer has written a blinding account of the experiences of mental health, most significantly schizophrenia.
Anyone involved with schiziphrenia will experience the different aspects of the illness. The indignity of hospitalisation. The mind controlling drugs such as thr depot which if initially refused is forcibly administered. Basically the feeling of being fenced in into an oppressive place under a government sanction i.e the dreaded sectioning.
Filer paints a true account of life of the schizophrenic not just the bad parts but also of the other patients who have their special qualities.
Mathew himself is a mild mannered young man who is haunted by the death of his down-syndrome brother in a fall at a holiday park.Continually relaying the death in his mind he feels responsible until finally Mathew cracks and begins having auditory hallucinations leading onto hospitalisation. The story of his life is narrated in the first person and gives an accurate insight into Mathew's life. His job at a care home,his dalliance with drugs and of course his brothers death prior to hospital.
This is a great read and will create more empathy and understanding for people both employed or a part of the mental health system.
Quite rightly recommended 9\10
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The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (Paperback - 7 Jan 2014)