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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
The Long Fall
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on 23 June 2017
An earlier event when aged 18 comes back years later to haunt Emma. Plenty of twists, blackmail and a mother with a lot to loose. Not one of Julia Crouch's best. But an interesting read with most of the story set in 1980's Greece.
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on 20 June 2017
I cannot recommend this highly enough. I read it in two days as I couldn't put it down. Julia Crouch is a superb writer
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on 31 July 2017
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VINE VOICEon 16 November 2015
I've read and enjoyed Tarnished by this author, and know that she is well thought of as a psychological thriller writer, but I'm afraid The Long Fall failed to hit the mark for me. Basically a story of an 18 year old girl called Emma travelling abroad on her own in 1980 and how what happens to her shapes her whole life until one day, it all comes back to haunt her. Straightaway I was irritated by the writing style and the journal that Emma writes, but it did seem as though it was working up to something possibly thrilling. However, I found myself even more irritated by the second half of the book which was a bit farcical and I can't say there was one single character in the whole book that I liked or felt anything for. I hate to give a poor review but this book really was a disappointment.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2015
I've enjoyed reading two previous Julia Crouch novels but I'm sorry to say that this one didn't really work for me. The first half of the story is the slowest and told by way of journal entries kept by Emma. The main story is set in Greece, back in 1980 when 18 year old Emma is free from the stifling care of her parents and backpacking her way around Europe. After a traumatic event in France, she comes to Greece and is seduced by the hot summer heat and the booze and the drugs. She pals up with a couple of fellow backpackers, Jake and Beattie, and this is where her troubles really begin.

The biggest problem I had with this first half was the inability to feel much empathy with Emma. For an 18 year old, she seemed far too gullible and even though I could accept that she was lonely and out of her depth, I found some of her decisions highly questionable. However, the positive for me was the excellent description of the Greek countryside. There was a great sense of place and I could almost feel the searing summer heat and the atmospheric towns and bars.

The second half of the story centres around Kate and this is where the story really nosedives. Kate is in her fifties, married to a very wealthy businessman and has a daughter, Tilly - who is determined to save up and go backpacking...in Greece. Having lost a young child, Kate and her husband have set up a children's charity called Martha's Wish. It is Kate's charity that will be the catalyst for what is to follow.

I don't often guess the outcome of a thriller correctly but in this case as soon as we got to Kate's story it was obvious where the story was heading and I was proved correct; it was a pity because this took away the element of surprise and suspense and I spent the rest of the book waiting for the characters to catch up. As a mature character, Kate had even less backbone and was more annoying than the much younger Emma; some of her decisions were beyond stupid and I couldn't believe that somebody of her age, and with her supposed intelligence could behave in such a way.

The story isn't really bad by any means and there are some good twists and turns but in my view for this to work as a thriller, it requires the suspension of too much belief but, if you can get past the bizarre and unlikely turn of events, then you may well enjoy this.
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on 20 June 2014
I received a copy of The Long Fall from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is another book that is hard to review without spoilers sneaking in, I seem to be choosing a lot of those lately.

The Long Fall is the first book by Julia Crouch that I have read, I felt it slow to start with but I stuck with it and I ended up enjoying it once the story picked up.

The main character Emma was really well written, with lots of depth and emotion and was very likable. I found myself becoming immersed in the ups and downs of her journey as the story progressed. I did however start to get irritated with her further on in the book, wanting to just give her a good shake and tell her to get a grip lol.

There are a couple of big twists in the story, which I had worked out before they happened. However it didn't ruin the book at all, although it would have been nice to have experienced them without knowing what was coming.

If you're thinking of picking this one up as a holiday read, I wouldn't advise doing so if you are a female travelling alone. I would imagine it would have you a second guessing every decision you make.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 July 2014
The Long Fall, by Julia Crouch, is described as a revenge thriller about a mother trying to protect her family. I found this aspect of the plot weak. The protagonist irritated me as so many of her actions reeked of stupidity. Her background may have been sheltered, but a working class girl clever enough to have been offered a place at Cambridge would be capable of critical thinking. The way she acted suggested a distinct lack of cognitive awareness.

Having said that, the first half of the book succeeded in drawing me in. The use of journal entries worked well and the characters were believable enough at this stage. Given their ages and the loneliness of the protagonist whilst travelling, it was possible to accept that she would act as described. Each reader comes to a book with their own personal life experiences colouring how they will respond to the unfolding tale, and I have yet to meet a young person as foolish as Emma, but I could swallow that such a girl may exist.

Having created the background and teased with sparse plot details, the build up to the key act was well written. Even though I knew what was coming I was eager to find out the hows and whys. This middle section was tense and enjoyable. Its conclusion left me satisfied and ready to continue with what was to happen next, the revenge. It was this which disappointed.

As soon as Beattie reappeared I guessed what was coming; not all of the finer details, but the gist of what was happening. A supposedly intelligent woman, even one with the many issues described, would not have walked so blindly into every trap set, would not have complied so meekly. I found too many contradictions in Emma. Whereas I could accept some stupidity in a nineteen year old, alone and afraid in a foreign land, it was harder to believe that a woman with the life experiences described could be so blindly foolish.

My antipathy towards the second half of the book grew as it progressed. I could not believe that, given how these people had acted in the past alongside how they acted now, Emma would not have at least suspected that all was not as it seemed. Her unquestioning acceptance grated to such an extent that I struggled to continue with the story.

The concluding chapters went some way towards redeeming a book that I was no longer enjoying. There were a few pleasing plot twists, although some loose ends were perhaps tied up a little too neatly. It was not enough though. The book was about an act of revenge, and this was the aspect that I found weak. A person with the background and intelligence that the protagonist was given would have shown more sense.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 June 2014
There’s a line towards the end of this book, “True, with the benefit of hindsight, it sounded incredibly far-fetched” which completely summed up my reaction to this book – and it seems to indicate that Crouch herself may have anticipated this response from her readers. This is a story which requires a massive suspension of disbelief.

The story is a sort of domestic gothic, where secrets from the past erupt into our heroine’s present and put pressure on everything that she cares about. I don’t want to give away spoilers but the plot veers from the improbable to the increasingly bizarre and had me giggling in disbelief more than once.

Despite the secrets and twists being uniformly predictable, I did want to continue reading this to the end: so this would be good as a beach or commute read where you want something light, easy and undemanding.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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on 25 September 2014
Very disappointed with this book. I am an avid reader and particularly like the 'psychological thriller' genre. This came highly recommended but I really can't understand some of the rave reviews. It is written in a very simple style (like teenage fiction) and I felt no affinity with the characters. Large chunks of it are just a list of how many drinks and drugs they take and want they don't eat/vomit up. The story is completely unbelievable and I'd figured out where it was going from half way in - not something I usually bother to do. I kept reading expecting a great twist but there isn't one. Don't waste your time
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on 20 June 2016
The Long Fall sets out with an irresistible premise, posing the question of just how far each of us would go to protect our secrets and those we hold nearest and dearest. Julia Crouch explores this through the eyes of fifty-year old Kate Barratt, wife of wealthy hedge fund manager, Mark, mother to eighteen year old daughter, Tilly and prominent charity campaigner at the helm of Martha's Wish. When her younger daughter, Martha, died from an inoperable brain tumour at the age of eight, Kate established the charity to promote education in some of the most impoverished countries in Africa. As an image of Kate wings its way around the world via social media dubbed as the "Face of Kindness", does anyone really know the woman hidden behind the opulence and beautiful facade? More importantly, how will Kate respond when a mistake she made over three decades ago threatens her picture perfect existence and everything she treasures?

As an eighteen year old Kate made an admittedly very big mistake when she spent a month InterRailing through Europe, but she considers that she has more than paid her penance with the loss of Martha, a situation she holds herself partially responsible for. Yet when Tilly announces her own plans to travel to the Greek islands and the very scene of Kate's nightmare, the memories of those events collides with the comfort and security of the present day. As Tilly plans her journey, Kate battles with her neuroses and self-critical behaviour, but the appearance of an 'old friend' from her time travelling threatening to expose a truth that she knows could ruin everything is looming ominously. Kate is prickly before Tilly's news and there is something anxious about her days, filled with superstitions and routines surrounding food and cleaning and her refusal to 'repurpose' Martha's former bedroom. As her fears grow these are exacerbated as she seeks to regain control and there is a palpable sense of both Tilly and Mark bearing with her idiosyncrasies.

It is thinly veiled throughout the early part of the novel that the travelogue of naive northern teenager Emma James, is an earlier day incarnation of Kate. The first part of the novel interweaved snapshots of Kate's current life with extracts from the 1980 diary of Emma and this had the effect of seeing the story unravel from the point of view of the same person but at drastically different points in their life which worked very well. The second portion focuses on the travelling experience of Emma and the two American travelling companions that she meets along the way, Beattie and Jake. Both are older with strong personalities and a rather more louche attitude to experiencing the joy of travelling in Europe. I would have appreciated the opportunity to see how the trio interacted but the focus was firmly on the alcohol, slimming pills and Valium consumption and did became slightly repetitive as days passed in a haze. The final third brings events full circle as Kate is forced to confront a past she has desperately tried to forget for the last thirty years with the arrival of one of her former travelling companions.

I know that other reviews had difficulty forging any kind of attachment to the principal character, with many finding the teenage Emma overly naive and her older incarnation of Kate as lacking backbone. In mitigation, that Emma went InterRailing in 1980 must surely allow for some of the decisions she made as the teenagers of the eighties were a markedly different quantity than the street smart and cynical teens of today. Emma is well drawn in terms of being achingly self-conscious and desperate to impress her companions. Kate is highly sensitive and not easy to be around, and by virtue of her very issues she becomes someone your sympathies do not naturally lie with, yet I could glimpse the truth behind the portrayal.

I do think some colour on the transition that Emma underwent to re-emerge as Kate Barratt would have added something and on finishing the book I couldn't help wondering if perhaps looking more closely at how Emma coped in the aftermath of her InterRailing experience would have added another dimension to The Long Fall. I was far from convinced that the easily led Emma would have pulled herself up by the bootstraps to re-emerge as the adult Kate, especially when she still seemed so fragile herself.

Whilst I have gained a fair idea into where the novel was headed a dramatic denouement was resolved well and delivered a few pleasant surprises, including Kate's first display of fighting spirit. Whilst I didn't think the characters were the most realistic, The Long Fall was still an interesting read which highlights three very different responses to one life changing experience on the idyllic Greek island of Ikaria. Julia Crouch also dealt thoughtfully with the various coping strategies which a growing propensity of the population, including Kate, find comfort in at times of crisis.

I felt this novel lacked guile and made its points in a slightly heavy handed manner. Whereas I would have preferred to observe and make my own inferences and judgements I felt that Crouch had a tendency to signpost how she wanted her readers to interpret situations. At just over four hundred pages The Long Fall felt a little like it ran out of steam, and the growing number of implausibilities towards the end certainly diluted the impact of the novel. In conclusion, The Long Fall suffers from making its ambitions too clear from the start and my inability to sustain interest in four of the five principal characters did nothing to help. An interesting novel which I felt lacked the strong characters needed to be at its most effective, but the narrative style worked well.

Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
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