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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Debut
Fired through this in a single sitting, genuinely enjoyable stuff from an emerging talent, one I hope I'll be seeing a lot more of. Goldschmidt's tentative, almost reluctant exploration of a troubled mind produces some tender, engaging passages that revel in the often bleak, uncertain nature of the past. The author has forged an intriguing character in Jeanette, one who...
Published on 9 April 2013 by Jean Xavier Boucherat

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why did I even bother... ?
I've got to admit, I didn't really like this book, as is probably obvious from the amount of stars I gave it. I thought Goldshmidt wrote fluently but often her descriptions were very clichéd for instance, 'The wind was a slap in the face'. I always remember that particular phrase being used as an example in English lessons for metaphors. The paragraphs of thought...
Published 23 months ago by Ilona Bell


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Debut, 9 April 2013
This review is from: The Falling Sky (Paperback)
Fired through this in a single sitting, genuinely enjoyable stuff from an emerging talent, one I hope I'll be seeing a lot more of. Goldschmidt's tentative, almost reluctant exploration of a troubled mind produces some tender, engaging passages that revel in the often bleak, uncertain nature of the past. The author has forged an intriguing character in Jeanette, one who doesn't shy away from a preference for the relative certainties and absolutes that characterise her field of astronomy, as opposed to the messy, indefinite field of human relationships. Watching these two worlds collide is as entertaining as it is illuminating. A great read, with a particularly cathartic ending, highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very unique voice - beautifully written, 26 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Falling Sky (Paperback)
Jeanette's is the voice of a scientist, who grapples not so much with the mysteries of the distant universe but with the intricacies of human life. Her relationships are troubled, her job is at times a form of escape but at others an almost unbearable burden, and the memory of her dead sister a haunting presence. Yet the happiness that Jeanette finds in small, everyday events defeats the pull of depression and is treated with such wonder by the protagonist herself that the reader wishes nothing but for her to preserve this fragile, beautiful feeling. The Falling Sky is a wonderful novel with a very unique voice that oscillates between allowing for glimpses into Jeannette's inner life and then pulling away, always a little afraid of revealing too much. It is fascinating how the author manages to implement almost scientific principles into Jeannette's way of thinking about her own life while at the same time hinting at the shortcomings of this approach, letting deep emotion leak through her carefully considered sentences. Great writing style and a haunting story!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first novel, 20 April 2013
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This review is from: The Falling Sky (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written book, which explores how one woman's personal and professional lives are influenced by each other, and by the tragedy that defined her childhood. Goldschmidt has a delicate touch with language that evokes the way a family's unspoken secrets can distort the lives of its members. However, what makes this book unusual, and sets it apart from many other novels that explore someone coming to terms with their past, is the fact that the protagonist is an astronomer. There have been precious few mainstream novels that take research scientists as their lead characters (as opposed to comic, and often stereotypical, relief) and it is great to see a realistic portrayal of what it is like to work in this world that also manages to be a story with great literary merit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Falling Sky, 29 July 2013
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Moonlit (scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Falling Sky (Kindle Edition)
I hesitated before buying this book. A novel with astronomy at its core, could this be worth reading? Could it engage me? My last tussle with astronomy had been futile: A Brief History of Time lay on my bookshelves for many years until I realised that I was never going to get past the first few pages and I donated it to Oxfam so that it at least had the chance to sit on someone else's bookcase. Yet something about the synopsis of The Falling Sky was pulling me in; a campus novel, about Edinburgh, a city I know well and there was more - hints of a troubled young woman grieving for her dead sister. I gave in to its gravitational pull and paid my 99p. I've said this before in reviews - think what you like about Kindle but the daily deal does give readers the opportunity to take a chance on authors they don't know and the daily deal has thrown up many gems for me, this being the latest.

Jeanette's childhood was bewildering to her. The loss of her sister in a drowning accident seemed to pull her family apart and her own intelligence set her apart from other young people at school. Now a post doc in the astronomy department at Edinburgh University her research is not particularly exciting but then on a trip to an observatory to Chile she spots something that could threaten the theory of the Big Bang. She publishes the research, careful not to make any grandiose claims for it, but upsets many people in so doing. The paper gets her a long wished for lectureship though and with a new woman, Paula, in her life, things seem to be looking up. Not for long though.

The characterisation of Jeanette is very well done. She is a fragile soul, used to being overlooked, feeling as though she doesn't exist. It is a sympathetic portrait. But the other characters are good too. It would be too easy to stereotype the other members of the department but the observations of the rivalry between the PhD students is beautifully done and very funny at times. And as for the Death Star, well we all know someone like him!

I raced through this book, keen to know what happened next. I'll reread it to better savour the lovely prose. I'm so glad I bought it and I may even visit my local Oxfam shop to see if there's an old copy of A Brief History of Time lurking around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange and beautiful debut, 19 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Falling Sky (Paperback)
This first novel by Pippa Goldschmidt is not only a great read, it is beautifully written. It tells the story of a young astronomer,Jeanette, and does so with great sensitivity - Stephen Fry has also pointed to the novel's 'delicate' nature. At the same time, the plot brings into sharp focus the science of star-gazing which is one focus of Jeanette's story and which the author, herself an astronomer, clearly wants to convey. This is a difficult task for anyone to pull off but the author manages it, partly because of the use of the present tense throughout, which lends a real sense of uneasy immediacy to the different time-frames of the novel; this in turn perfectly reflects Jeanette's strange in-between-ness and gives plenty of space for Goldschmidt's lovely turn of phrase. Recommended.

PS. The novel could be read as a companion-piece to Alan Garner's Boneland (2012). Both books are intelligent reads about the undiscovered past, both feature a lost (unfindable) sister, and (most strikingly!) both lead characters are young astronomers trying to come to terms with - and to unblock/unlock - childhood trauma. The Falling Sky is an easier read than the richly allusive Boneland, and it's no less rewarding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visions of the Universe, 1 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Falling Sky (Kindle Edition)
Straight off I absolutely loved this book. True I was in the right frame of mind having visited Visions of the Universe at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, a magical show of photographs - spiralling galaxies, exploding stars and supernovae. Jaw dropping and heavenly beautiful. Then I was recommended this first novel.
The author is an astronomer, as is her narrator and main character, Jeanette. Different narratives are interwoven. Jeanette's sister died when she was young; the family has never come to terms with the loss. She is at a cross roads in her professional life, a future threatened by her controversial findings. She struggles to find true love - she is gay and true romance proves more elusive than erotic encounters. Crisis or big bang, if you prefer.
The dramas of her life on earth seem to parallel celestial coordinates and correspondences. When we look to the ends of space and time, do we see only ourselves? The astronomy is not too taxing. You would want to know a little, but the author makes it easy and you end up wanting to know a lot more.
At first I thought this would be a "scientist's" novel, good on the science but awkward on the rest, especially sex! In fact the real strengths of the book are precisely the subjective and emotional as much as the cognitive. One image persisted - in her back garden the teenager, now the only child, resolutely focuses her telescope away from the house to the night sky, behind her a glowing TV sucks the sadness from her mother. I read the last chapters with a lump in my throat in the small hours, as the stars looked down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and compelling debut, 27 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Falling Sky (Paperback)
The Falling Sky is a beautifully written book which portrays the emotional turmoil of a woman trying to come to terms with the past as she also struggles with her present situation. The book balances present and past events brilliantly, and the more you learn about Jeanette's past the more her actions in the present become understandable. Jeanette is a compelling and sympathetic character, even if I didn't agree with all of her choices throughout the novel. At first I found the scientific and astronomic terminology a bit daunting, but Goldschmidt explains everything well and soon I realised just how crucial Jeanette's work as an astronomer is to explaining how her past has affected her. You can tell Goldschmidt is a former astronomer but she has also made a great author - I found The Falling Sky to be a really honest portrayal of loss and grief, and at times I found the book to be a very emotional read. I see this is Goldschmidt's first novel and based on this book I think she could be an author to look out for in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and honest novel of corrosive loss, 2 Jun. 2013
By 
Phillip Stuart Viner (Brighton UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Falling Sky (Kindle Edition)
This is not always an easy read, as it deals with loss and love, and the inability of a family to deal with overwhelming grief. Yet it is a fascinating and ultimately enriching experience. The novel is beautifully written and says so much about the minutiae of living day-to-day, while also examining the universe itself and the links between us frail humans, and the answers to why we are here. A superb debut and I look forward to more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Skyfall, 27 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Falling Sky (Kindle Edition)
Telling the story of a life scared and shaped by childhood tragedy.

Fascinating parallels drawn between astronomy and time travel; points made about the importance of the absence as much as the presence of things; the (un)certainty of science ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promising and brilliant debut, 5 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Falling Sky (Kindle Edition)
Compelling and emotional, Pippa Goldsmith weaves the personal explorations of her character's story with scientific explorations to create an intelligent and gripping read. The flawed character of Jeanette is likeable and easy to empathise with, as she struggles to balance the importance of research and her conflicts with her colleagues with her own messy and distressing personal life. Like the classic cliche, I laughed and cried as I followed Jeanette through the macrocosms and microcosms of the book. I can't wait to read more by the author, as this excellent debut promises a starry future.
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The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt
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