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The Ground Will Catch You Kindle Edition
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Happily, I was immediately absorbed by the Judo story line in this book, as you may be if you have a little knowledge of Judo yourself. I was already there with narrator Steve when he talked about his passion for it; his being bored and becoming careless with his day job in sales; Steve thought more about being at the dojo despite having abandoned it for a time after misusing his talent. The club he visits is run by Jack, a dour, thoughtful, older chap who sees much more than Steve realises. The two of them are excited by a new arrival to the classes, Cyan, who appears promising but has a mixed up personal life and a frightening involvement with local gang members. Steve later gets rather over involved with trying to fathom out what is going on there.
Somewhat surprisingly, to himself and the reader, Steve is strongly courted by Emily, a lovely ballet student with wealthy parents who support and press her on to become a professional dancer. This bright girl seems to home in on him. Emily is a bit crazy, perhaps prone to wild actions, emotionally controlling, and a strong character; she takes over his life, pushing everything else aside. Then something completely unexpected happens and straightaway, the newly minted couple have to alter their expectations drastically. Emily is determinedly hurrying their relationship on, but a strange, creepy connection emerges, in her close relationship with a male physiotherapist Alex, a specialist working with dancers, who reckons he knows more about her body than anyone else. Alex's ownership of her physical difficulties is unnatural and exclusive.
The issue of spinal injury is very well handled. The author knows what he’s talking about here. A prolapsed/herniated disc that has stubbornly refused to stop hurting despite surgery, Physio, acupuncture and drugs. The journey through the NHS is a familiar one, Emily initially refuses to accept her parents’ offer of funds to pay for private treatment. But all may not be as it seems and that’s where, for me the book takes off.
I really understand the accident section, I could see it happening, the apparently impulsive behaviour, and Steve’s acceptance, bravery afterwards is admirable. However something truly doesn’t seem quite right about Emily and Alex, her parents, and the house...
I do like the many clever phrases, similes, conversations, closely observed descriptions of people (her mother comes across hilariously). Some may find the denouement a little silly, no way realistic, although you may guess it, still, this is a story well told and full of otherwise believable detail. This writing is top drawer.
Steve discovers life. He regains his dojo mojo, getting involved with Jack’s judo club and feeling the lure of the Orient. Irresistible Emily brings a missing, different spice to Steve’s existence with the promise of a privileged Occidental life, mixing in cultural circles, and escaping to pastoral marital bliss. The perfect private life balance, a confluence of relationship and sport, providing an ideal environment for work and family. Is life going to give Steve a break? Does an anti-hero deserve a break?
Steve, Jack and Emily are real people with typical human failings. Anyone who has ever dedicated themselves to sport will know the challenges of maintaining an equilibrium across the demands of modern life. But more sinister forces are at play here. The threat of a disastrous outcome for Steve hovers above the pages of this book from the start. The surprise is the direction it comes from and the motivation of the protagonists. The Ground Will Catch You is not all happiness and light, but then neither is life. Strangely gripping, at times frustrating when the characters exhibited their all too realistic flaws, I was left thinking yes, Steve Hollis has benefited from this tough experience. He has grown stronger and his life will be long and full.
You’ll enjoy this if you: like and appreciate metaphor, if you can sympathise with the underdog and if you want some quiet reassurance that the lives of others can be so much worse than yours. There’s a strong message in The Ground Will Catch You and, if you’re the right type of reader for this book, that message will stay with you for a long time.
Emily puts a spoke in the wheel. She's training and performing in modern dance. Not quite the Giselle her pushy mother hoped for, but it's still the arts. And her overworked, overthin body seems about perfect to Steve, who can't believe she likes him back, despite his pernickety Felix Unger habits. In no time Emily is talking about, not just moving in together, but buying a house. Somewhere nice outside London, darling. An unbelievably stupid car crash just might put paid to Emily's career, and what with Jack's annoyance that Steve isn't training any more and is letting down a young kid who has already been let down by his own father, life is bent out of shape.
Sprinkled through the layered tale are the seeds of betrayals and crimes, love undeserved and the desire for redemption. The location is a flavoursome mix of normality, the cheap side of living and the rubbing elbows with the posh, Steve unsure where he fits and ultimately travelling a long way to find the place. The personal narration by Steve reminds me of Tony Parsons' protagonist in 'Man And Wife' but with far more interesting conflicts and suspense. 'The Ground Will Catch You' would reward reading a second time to observe the skilful telling by David Powning.
You don't have to be a judoka to appreciate this odyssey, but it would help.
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I could see a great movie. I highly recommended!Read more