Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review: The Edge of the Fall

Title: The Edge of the Fall
Author: Kate Williams
Publisher: 12 January 2016 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 432 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 2 cups

For fans of DOWNTON ABBEY, ATONEMENT and Kate Morton - a compelling historical saga from the bestselling author of THE STORMS OF WAR.
In the aftermath of the Great War, the de Witt family are struggling to piece together the shattered fragments of their lives.

Rudolf and his wife Verena, still reeling from the loss of their second son, don't know how to function in the post-war world. Stoneythorpe Hall has become an empty shell with no servants to ensure its upkeep.

Celia, the de Witt's youngest daughter, is still desperate to spread her wings and see more of the world. To escape Stoneythorpe and the painful secrets that lie there, she moves to London and embraces life and love in the Roaring Twenties.

My Thoughts

I'll make this short. Reading the synopsis: Downton Abby! Kate Morton! Sounds perfect, however, in retrospect I guess too perfect. Sadly, it was neither. 

"It was as if the war had aged everything, dirtied it all, however much you hid things away."

Where did it go wrong for me? (and I'll say 'me' because this might just be right for others). Firstly, The Edge of the Fall is the second in a planned trilogy from historian Kate Williams. That I only learned upon closer inspection (not highlighted obviously anywhere), so I was behind from the get-go. Having picked this book up and not realising this fact, I was a little lost, and most likely, did not appreciate certain character developments. As an addendum, this book gets you ready for book three, so some answers you will not receive.

Given this, I don't believe it can really be viewed as a standalone due to the plot of the book. Maybe this book was suffering from middle trilogy syndrome? To my mind, the plot jumped around, everything from the narrative (two characters, first person), to the timeline itself. At times, the alternating viewpoints of Celia and Louisa are difficult to reconcile. In fact I found them in the extreme and bordering on major exaggeration. How could two people see the one event SO differently. 

At the heart of the book is Celia and, sad to say, I just did not like her. She is a sulky character and you never really feel like being on her side. She just whines way too much: 

"She's no fun. Always feeling sorry for herself, wandering around under a cloud."

Then there is her brother Arthur, and he is even worse. What a cad! Meant to be of course, however, I was most unhappy with the predictable outcome. In my humble opinion there was some much needed editing required as topics of conversation were repeated over and over, even events restated time and time again. We get it! Move on!

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Better editing would have cut much of the repetition and had an increased impact. For example, the inclusion of Jonathan visiting Emmeline's children: why include this? In fact I struggled with much of the plot structure/timeline: Celia's personal drama, suddenly switched to brother's drama (her's totally forgotten), switched to this Jonathan (old beau) on the scene - one hot potato dropped for another with no depth or relevance. 

I was bordering on a two and a half star rating, however, by the end, I had 'fallen off the edge' (pun intended) and she didn't care and neither did I!

"She didn't care. She hoped it poured down on her and everyone else for the rest of their lives."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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