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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Jonathan Coe's latest book is slim, but crams in much of what it is to be human. The story cleverly engages all the senses - a dying woman leaves an audio description of 12 photographs she wants a relative to imagine, so she can feel her own sense of history and place. As a result - the books engages the reader on many levels as the story unfolds and is brought vividly...
Published on 17 Jun 2008 by Jl Adcock

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grasp hold of happiness
This was my first Jonathan Coe novel. Let me say straight away that his structure and style are very engaging and that this is a beautifully readable and enjoyable novel. I'll certainly be looking out for more of his books.
The blurb on the back intrigued me but turned out to be rather misleading. Coe's concept - a family story revealed through photographs and the...
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by Allie


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 17 Jun 2008
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Jonathan Coe's latest book is slim, but crams in much of what it is to be human. The story cleverly engages all the senses - a dying woman leaves an audio description of 12 photographs she wants a relative to imagine, so she can feel her own sense of history and place. As a result - the books engages the reader on many levels as the story unfolds and is brought vividly to life by Coe's wonderful, evocative prose.

Although I'd agree with other reviewers that is quite different from Coe's other books, one things remains true: he writes about the sense of time and place better than almost any other writer I can think of. With this one, he's been compared in some reviews to Ian McEwan - unfair in my opinion - as Coe is a much better writer.
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story and beautiful writing, 4 Sep 2007
I was interested to read the review already given here , as my experience of reading this book was totally different.

It's odd to hear someone complain about the print size - true, it is a little bigger than that used in most books I have read, but it's not that big. And the truth is, I got so absorbed in the story that after a few pages I really didn't notice it.

Virtually the whole narrative is made up of a series of photographs, each one described in detail by the narrator, Rosamond. Her death at the beginning of the novel instigates several questions - her niece is instructed to contact Imogen, a little girl who Rosamond lost touch with years before. Over the course of the book, Rosamond's story starts to emerge from the series of photographs, and you start to learn more about the things that happened to her and who Imogen is. This sounds like a tricksy device but in fact it works really well - you are only given pieces at a time, which makes the whole thing even more compelling.

I absolutely loved this book - it's so beautifully written, with characters that you really care about. It's a bit shorter than some of Jonathan Coe's other books, but the brevity goes really well with how elegant and sophisticated it is. It's definitely worth reading - I'd recommend it to anybody thinking about buying it .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grasp hold of happiness, 25 Feb 2011
By 
Allie (Poynton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rain Before it Falls (Paperback)
This was my first Jonathan Coe novel. Let me say straight away that his structure and style are very engaging and that this is a beautifully readable and enjoyable novel. I'll certainly be looking out for more of his books.
The blurb on the back intrigued me but turned out to be rather misleading. Coe's concept - a family story revealed through photographs and the taped narration of a dying woman - only promised to be half the story and I expected the remaining family members, briefly sketched, at the outset, to then become embroiled in the search for their missing relative. In fact this didn't happen, the taped narrative tells the whole story, which, although it wasn't what I expected, did give the book a nice unity and compactness.
One of the things which had really interested me was the fact that Coe decided to tell the story through a female voice, the deceased aunt. I am never really sure that male writers CAN convincingly create credible female consciousnesses but Coe pulled it off for me in this character. She notices, in the photographs, the things that women would notice, she digresses, she reflects, she revisits, yes, she rambles a bit at times, but I really felt that I was inside the thoughts of an authentic elderly woman.
The title of the novel is intriguing and is only barely justified by a rather tortuous and self-conscious explantion in the book. I got the impression that this had been 'worked up' in order to validate its place on the front cover. The significance of the rain BEFORE it falls is that while diaster and disappointment may hover and threaten (like rain) to deluge us, the period in the interim is an opportunity to enjoy its absence. Put more simply, grasp hold of happiness while you can; we all know that the window of opportunity is small.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All families have skeletons in the closet, but some have more than others ..., 10 April 2008
By 
Annabel Gaskell "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Gill and her family settle down to listen to her recently deceased aunt's memories, taped for the blind grand-daughter of her cousin whom they've been unable to locate. Rosamund has chosen a series of photos from her childhood onwards to tell the story of Imogen's family, in particular her moody and excitable grandmother Beatrix who was Rosamund's childhood companion, and Imogen's mother Thea who turned out to have problems of her own.
Throughout, there is a sense of the need to escape, to prevent history repeating, however fate takes control and then what happens is unavoidable.
The main characters are all women, and Coe has successfully pulled off writing a novel about women with wide appeal. In this respect (and given the initial wartime setting), it reminded me of Sarah Waters' 'The night watch'. The cover photo is an intriguing find and compliments the narrative perfectly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and well crafted..., 26 Aug 2008
By 
Ben (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rain Before it Falls (Paperback)
Having previously read "What A Carve Up!" and "The House Of Sleep", I expected Jonathan Coe's latest to be more quality fiction laced with his slightly mischievous, surreal edge.

So, that "Before The Rain Falls" is a more traditional, straightforward (although no less memorable) book came initially as a bit of a shock. Still, I found it a moving and enjoyable novel. The switch from first to third person narratively is handled deftly throughout and, without wishing to give anything away, using a series of old photographs to unfold the narrative was a slightly teasing, but very clever, plot device. For anyone who has looked through an old photograph album that has laid dormant for several years, you know how the feeling of nostalgia and memory over takes you - and he replicates that feeling well here.

I've always found Coe an unusual, but always interesting and entertaining writer and "Before The Rain Falls" is well worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and insightful, but flawed, 15 July 2008
By 
This review is from: The Rain Before it Falls (Paperback)
A lovely book, cleverly structured and lyrical. Coe has created well-rounded characters with warmth and insight, however I felt the end of the book was rushed and rather too neat, which was a shame, because he has a feeling for complexity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I've read so far this year, 10 July 2008
By 
Y. Johnston - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rain Before it Falls (Paperback)
The best novel I've read so far this year - and this year I've also read 'On Chesil Beach'.
I've loved Coe's recent novels -'The Rotters Club' and 'Closed Circle' and was apprehensive about reading his first 'non-funny' novel. But boy does he pull this one off!
Brilliant!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars development of an accomplished novelist, 23 Sep 2007
By 
DT (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
This is a beautifully crafted work, a pleasurable journey through the generations put together by a seriously gifted writer. JC's characters (as always) conjure empathy and pathos. I enjoyed this as much as any of JC's novels, though for different reasons. There is so much to make the reader smile, and it is (on this occasion) no loss to forgo the "laugh out loud" moments which punctuate earlier works. Clever and original, without a hint of intellectual ruthlessness or arrogance, this novel will take its place in the author's growing portfolio as a significant accomplishment leaving readers (like myself) ready for the next offering but without any pre-ordained ideas as to what might come in the future. Other than the certainty it will be pure quality.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 9 Dec 2007
By 
John Gass (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a stunning book, in every sense of the word. Others have described the storyline in enough detail but, for me, the book is simply an emotional journey of discovery; not a roller-coaster but a gradual uncovering of a family's history with all its pain, tragedy and search for understanding, forgiveness and release.

It makes me think of 'Brideshead Revisited' and 'The Remains Of The Day', partly because all three use the device of starting in the present and looking back, but also because each of them has affected me deeply with their quietly understated emotional intensity.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Highly disappointing, 25 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Rain Before it Falls (Paperback)
More than two thirds into the story,Rosamond the woman who tells the story in the book begins a chapter with the following words:
"Thank goodness! I am growing tired of this story, and you must be exhausted,listening to me chatter on for hours on end. (....) It will be over now,all over , very soon.A relief all round ,I am sure."
There is not much to add really , this is exactly how I felt after 200 pages - rarely have I witnesed a more contrived story and as little character development as in this book .
As a great admirer of Coe's previous work I can only advise readers to stay away from this one and read any other of his books which are all great (especially House of sleep,The rotter's club and What a carve up).
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The Rain Before it Falls
The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe (Paperback - 5 Jun 2008)
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