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Didn't fall quite so much in love with this as I'd hoped
on 27 October 2014
I really enjoyed 'The Outcasts', and the subject matter and setting of 'Fallout' really appealed to me, so I was set to like it. And I did - but not nearly as much as I'd hoped.
'Fallout' is a story of Seventies theatre and a time when 'the arts' in England, and in London in particular, took one of those 'Brits leading the world' sort of turns. Theatre became more leading edge and political. Of course there were still revues and musicals, but there were exciting new theatres, new producers, new writers coming to the fore, on the back of the 'new wave' of the Sixties kitchen sink films and film-makers. 'Fallout' is not wholly about theatre, but there is a LOT of theatre in it. Sadie Jones has obviously done a huge amount of research and has a love of her subject. The problem is, that the research, the theatres and the politics and the insider jokes get far too much prominence in this novel, and that's what spoiled it for me.
Luke and Paul were great characters. They were great foils for each other, and their friendship was deep and utterly believable - so that when it went wrong, as it inevitably did, then you really felt for them. Nina, the cataclysmic catalyst, was a horror, but she was also a believable horror, and her marriage, which I'm pretty certain was a pastiche of a famous and real one, was wittily and bitterly drawn. She was meant to be hateful, and she was, though she was also pathetic. My problem was that I didn't hate her so much as didn't care what happened to her, and that meant I didn't much care for what happened with her relationship with Luke. I have this problem quite a lot with novels these days, so much that I wonder if it's just me - I don't dislike dislikeable characters, I feel indifferent to them, and it stops me wanting to find out what happened.
However, Sadie Jones writes a good story, and she writes really beautiful prose in places, so I did carry on, and ultimately I'm glad I did. The ending is satisfying. When the curtain comes down, I was glad I didn't leave in the interval. I just wish the third act had been cut a bit. But I will be reading her next one.