Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive novel, 9 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Stone's Fall (Kindle Edition)
I read An Instance Of The Fingerpost a few years back and thought that book so excellent that I could not see how Iain Pears could ever better it. In an intricate plot, four narratives essentially told the same story, but with hardly any overlap, and in one, the "fingerpost", we found out what really happened, and from someone who barely appeared in the other accounts.

The current novel uses three layers of narrative to explain the life and death of John Stone, a capitalist who runs an impressive empire of companies with one aim: the manufacture of battleships. After a brief introduction, the story opens in 1909 just after Stone's death, when a journalist, Broddick, is asked by Stone's widow to investigate a clause in his will which is holding up its execution.

The journalist digs deep and uncovers what appears to be an enormous fraud in the affairs of Stone's empire. There is also a mysterious secret agent, Cort, involved in some way but Broddick never gets to the bottom of what really happened until, on Stone's widow's death, he comes into possession of Cort's memoirs. These form the basis of the second narrative. This completely turns upside down the impression Broddick had formed of Stone's widow in part one: she was not quite what she had seemed to be. The second account covers a period before and around the marriage of Stone and encompasses the first fall of Barings Bank.

In the final part, we read Stone's own account of his affairs. I will not give anything away when I say that we are going to have our conceptions widened once again by this account.

Iain is a master of this many-layered type of narrative and in a long but leisurely book we see many ways in which how we view someone is affected profoundly by how much we know about them. Each successive layer makes us re-examine what prejudices we formed about the characters in the novel and re-interpret their later actions.

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (81 customer reviews)
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