Charity Norman is a new author to me, having heard on a number of occasions that her work is along the lines of Jodi Picoult I was intrigued to see if her writing can live upto such a great writer.
Martha is a heart-warming character. She always wants to try and do what she thinks is best for her family and when she see's that the best thing for her marriage would be to move to New Zealand there is one person who isn't happy with the new plans and that is her daughter Sacha. Sacha is a typical teen and doesn't like the idea of change and it is as though the whole world is going to come crashing down on her because of the move. I can't say I loved her character but I do think she was a fantastic character and she is a crucial part to this book and plays the perfect character.
What won me over with this book is how unpredictable it was. At the beginning when we find out that a little boy has fallen from a balcony something didn't feel right and as we got a few chapters in I had my own little theory as to what really happened but I have to admit I was way off track! There was so many dark twists in this book that I didn't see coming and this held my attention all the way through.
The story follows the lead up to the accident and every so often there is a chapter back in the present day in the hospital with Finn and Martha. This was not a book that you could easily pick up and put down, you needed your full attention and I found it impossible to put down. I was tense when reading this book I was on the edge of my seat it was so detailed that I actually felt as though I was sitting and watching a film!
This was a very intense and addictive read, I did love the little twins parts in this book they brought a little light to a dark storyline with their little mischief making!
I would recommend this book and I will also be looking forward to reading more books by this author.
AFTER THE FALL HAS BEEN CHOSEN FOR THE 2013 RICHARD AND JUDY SPRING BOOK CLUB!
on 11 February 2013
I bought this book on the back of all the reviews on Amazon. The storyline was hard hitting but the language style was that of a flimsy chick lit book. I found the language used quite cloying "ebony hair" "caramel locks" "spread eagled like intergalactic starfish". It seemed like the author had to describe every situation by trying to compare it with another experience that was completely irrelevant and I found it really annoying by the end. I also found the character of Bianka a bit unbelievable. I did persevere with the book as on the whole it was a good story.
Five-year-old Finn is taken by rescue helicopter to hospital one night after a fall from the upstairs balcony of his family home deep in rural New Zealand. He has been known to sleepwalk, so the fall was surely just a terrible accident. However, Finn's mum Martha knows more about what happened that night than she is prepared to reveal to those questioning it.
The McNamara family has moved to New Zealand to make a new start. There newfound paradise is idyllic but it won't be without problems or challenges for them all. The move was prompted by a need to escape and try to find a new life for them, especially for Martha and husband Kit, an artist whose business in the UK has failed as so many others have, and whose thoughts were descending into despair at where his life was heading. Martha thinks the move will offer a chance to save him and revitalise his painting with the beautiful landscapes they discover all around them. Martha and Kit's twin sons, Finn and Charlie see it all as an adventure; they'll miss their Grandfather and friends but will soon adapt to the new place and see all the possibilities for play and exploration. Martha's daughter from a previous relationship, Sacha, is sixteen-years-old and for her it is a difficult time to be separated from everything she has even known.
The narrative shifts in time, and the author builds up the background to the move, introducing us to Martha's sister and father, to Sacha's life at school, and to Kit's troubles. We are aware of the history that has prompted the family to move.
This is a lovely novel, so well written, with a central character in Martha that has so much to deal with, and tries to do the best she can for her family. She carries secrets from the past, and she has her love tested to the absolute limits. Martha is a compelling narrator and one whose voice I was gripped by throughout. We learn of her relationship with her mother, we see her grow and change in New Zealand, taking on a new job, having to be so strong to deal with things affecting her family, and yet finding moments to become Martha, not mother or wife but just herself, and to experience growth in her own life:
`I felt a sense of something deep within myself, something I didn't quite recognize. After thinking for some minutes I realized that I was actually proud of myself. I'd done something I'd been afraid to do. For once I hadn't sat on the fence and watched my children; I hadn't been the photographer, the waver-off, the cheerer on the sidelines. It had been a long time since I'd had an achievement that wasn't vicarious.'
Martha spends a lot of the novel in difficult situations, with scenarios to deal with and decisions to make that no-one would envy. She is human, she is flawed, and I warmed to her and willed things to go right. Her character prompted me to think about her motivations and about how I would react to the events that befall her; would I react in the same way? Sacha is also a well-drawn and complex character.
More than one character needs the opportunity for a second chance and for forgiveness, both of which are dominant themes in the novel. Despite there being a lot to express about the issues that are dealt with in the story, I feel that to say anymore about them here would spoil it for those yet to read the book - you must discover the twists and turns as you read.
This well-written novel made me think about family and love, the bonds that are so tight between a mother and her children, between a husband and wife, and how that love and trust that we develop and depend on can be severely stretched and tested, how deeply those we love the most can hurt us, and the power of forgiveness.
I was very impressed by this novel throughout; the storytelling, the characters and the development of both were strong and well handled. I felt like every encounter and conversation drove the narrative on and had a purpose towards the story as a whole, there was nothing surplus as can sometimes be the case.
Charity Norman deals sensitively and yet thoroughly with modern day issues that can be frightening for all involved, and will test this family to the limits of love.
It's a book that I wanted both to read quickly and discover how the plot unfolded and yet wanted to savour and not to come to an end because I was really enjoying reading it.
New Zealand is a country I've spent time traveling in myself and which I love, and it was wonderful to read a novel set there, indeed to read about a family's dream to start again there. The author incorporates aspects of Maori mythology into the conversations with some of the friends the family makes, which I enjoyed reading.
The storyline totally captivated me and I found it very moving; at the end I shed a few tears at the outcome. I wish my review could do it even a bit of justice. This is a talented author at work. More please.
on 9 November 2013
I have been struggling a little with reading the past month or so. Not that I haven't enjoyed the books I've read but my concentration and time levels have been constrained. I decided to see if Charity Norman's novel After The Fall could snap me out of my reading funk.
And boy did it do just that! This is the first book I've read by Charity Norman and so I just hoped for the best and went based upon the dust jacket blurb.
This is the story of Martha & Kit who emigrate to New Zeland with their twin boys and teenage daughter. Another book about emigration but oh so different in tone to my last book by Nick Spalding. The book opens as Martha deals with the immediate aftermath of her young son Finn falling from a balcony in their New Zeland home and the questions asked about the circumstances surrounding the fall.
From the springboard the story jumps back to 18 months earlier and the chain of events leading to the fall right back to the family's decision to leave the UK. We are clearly told something is amiss but the book beautifully leads us through the story.
It was such a gripping book, the first in a long time I've been desperate to get back to. Choosing it over the latest episode of Greys Anatomy and Dr McDreamy is high praise indeed. The characters are well written and the book beautifully atmospheric.
It doesn't over dramatise the events in the book, it isn't so extreme as to be unbelievable and it is sensitively handled. It evoked real tears from me in the closing chapters as it reached it's conclusion. It didn't lead us into an easy tale of heroes and villains but one of shades of light an dark.
A truly wonderful read, I would very thoroughly recommend this as a 5 out of 5 stars
on 12 May 2013
I am truly amazed that a few people were critical of this author's writing. Not only did I think it well-written but the plot is so full of drama that even if I had thought it completely appalling I would have still been transfixed. Charity Norman can certainly tell a story.
When Kit's business fails he persuades his wife Martha, who tells the story, to move with her teenage daughter Sacha and their twin boys Finn and Charlie to New Zealand to start a new life. Once they have bought their house and settle in it seems that they have truly found a slice of paradise. Even Sacha, who was desperately unhappy about the move, quickly settles into her new school, gaining a circle of new friends. Their surroundings are beautiful; the beach is nearby and bird-song awakens them each morning. The neighbours are friendly and welcoming. Martha has a job and Kit is finally fulfilling his artistic dreams inspired by their wonderful surroundings. The twins have started school and it seems that the family have truly arrived in their own Eden.
But just as in the biblical Eden trouble is waiting to strike. The serpent is raising its head and inexorably slithering towards them. Indeed, from the title onwards biblical themes from the Eden of Genesis to the Gospel narrative of love, suffering, forgiveness and redemption abound. I only hope that in this biblically illiterate age that there are many others who will appreciate the way Charity has woven these threads into a thought-provoking tapestry filled with dramatic tension and beauty.
on 12 June 2014
This book sucks you in. It is real. The characters are real. I have asked myself, as a wife and mother, how would I cope with what Martha has had to deal with. I don't know. What would I have done, I don't know. And unless you find yourself in these situations I don't think you can ever know. Hopefully I never have to find the answer to these questions. It is a wonderful piece of work if a book can make you question yourself like this. I want to tell my friends about this book and ask them what they would have done. Don't miss out, buy it, read it.
on 21 September 2013
I picked this up to read as I enjoy the mystery/thriller genre and thought this book belonged there, rather erroneously as it turned out.
After the Fall is in fact a modern day family novel written in a very authentic and heart warming style from the perspective of Martha, the Mum and unlike other reviewers, I didn't think the style was 'chick lit' at all. Chick lit implies fluffy rubbish to me, and this story with all the sobering events it contains,certainly could not be described as such.
There are elements of mystery to the plot and I wouldn't want to give anything away, but all is eventually revealed and I will just say that I warmed to all the characters from sweet, flawed Sacha to the delightfully 'different' New Agey Grandpa.
I have never been to New Zealand but I daresay the sense of place was perfect as I felt transported there whenever I picked up the book to continue to read.
I heartily recommend this book, perhaps especially for the author's portrayal of motherhood in the modern age, and the bittersweet relationships, hard choices and rollercoaster of emotion it brings.
I was very intrigued by this book. The cover appears innocent, with two little boys running along a beach, enjoying the world around them. But the blurb tells a different story altogether, hinting at secrets, drama, accidents and a rocky road for the family involved, and so I was desperate to start reading.
The book opens with an accident: Martha McNamara sees her five-year old son Finn fall from their balcony. He is rushed to the hospital in a critical condition and the whole thing is a blur. No-one seems to know how it happened, apart from Martha, but she isn't telling, not just yet.
Martha then takes the reader back to when the family were in England, thinking about moving to New Zealand. Martha's husband Kit longed to start painting as a career if they emigrated, twins Charlie and Finn wanted an adventure, and sixteen year old Sacha saw it as a nightmare. Through Martha's memories we travel with her as she recounts their time in England, the move to New Zealand and the highs and the lows that they encountered.
I must say I quite enjoyed this book. I absolutely loved the opening chapter! Finn's accident captured my attention immediately, and I was keen to find out more: Was he going to be okay? How did it happen? Dis the other family members know yet? Immediately after we were taken back by Martha to when the family were in England. This did take a chapter or so to become engrossed in as my mind was still back in the present with Finn. However, as the story progressed, I did enjoy reading about the background of Martha's family and the events that ultimately lead up to the present day.
The second half of the book was particularly gripping, as a lot begins to happen and the pace quickens. I found myself staying up late at night to finish chapters and I was glued to the pages wanting to know what was going to happen next. Sometimes I can guess which way a book is going to go, but with After The Fall, I was completely clueless! There was a lot of tension in the book, and many twists and turns where I least expected them, so I was constantly on the edge of my seat. I had no idea which way the story would take me, and that did make the book a more exciting adventure as I never knew what the characters would do next!
Charity Norman has written the characters fantastically. With each character we learn a background story, and it is fascinating to see how their past experiences and backgrounds have affected how they are in the present day. The characters are complex, believable and surprised me throughout. I especially enjoyed reading about Tama and Ira, and their storytelling.
I loved that the book had the setting of New Zealand, the descriptions of the land, the horses and the beaches were wonderful and Charity Norman definitely made me want to visit there someday if only to see the beautiful landscapes.
If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult then this book is for you! Charity Norman has created a story full of surprises, drama, with some good twists thrown into the mix. A compelling read.
on 11 September 2013
I read the reviews of this book and saw phrases like 'the characters stayed with me long after I'd finished reading' and I wondered why. Having been captivated by this tale for the past couple of days I can now fully understand the sentiments.
Initially I felt a resonance with Martha because she witnessed her young son fall, and I have two young daughters so it was easy to feel her terror and fears. But as the events unfolded and her teenage daughter faced a different, yet equal danger I found myself fearful for the teenage girls my own children will become, and the potentially helpless situation mothers find themselves in as their children become young adults.
Incredibly well written and one of the best family dramas I have ever read..and I've read a lot! Cannot recommend highly enough...easily steals Jodi picoult's crown for me.
on 10 March 2016
I read an awful lot of books yet this is one of my favourite novels of all time. The author transported me to backwater New Zealand with her beautifully descriptive style of writing. The characters were multi-dimentional and likeable and I found myself empathising with the main character Martha. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book without a doubt.