Estranged brothers are reunited over plans to develop the tower block where they grew up, but the desolate estate becomes a stage for reliving the events of one life-changing summer, forty years earlier.
Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.
But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that shattered their lives, and changed everything forever…
Grim, evocative and exquisitely rendered, Fall is a story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave – a triumph of a novel that will affect you long after the final page has been turned.
Hi and welcome to my review of Fall!
Well, what can I tell you about this book other than I’ve fallen hard for it. There is just something about West Camel’s writing that is so very hard to identify, to quantify, but it mesmerises me, there is something inherently magical about it, and although there is nothing even remotely fantastical about the story, it does in fact have a kind of magic to it.
Essentially, Fall is a family drama. I’m loath to describe it that way: I don’t read family dramas, I don’t like family dramas, they’re just not my bag. However, after Attend, there was never any question I’d read whatever West Camel chose to write next and I picked up Fall with every confidence I’d enjoy it. Dear reader, I, the gal who doesn’t do family drama, bloody loved it.
Fall is the story of twin brothers, Aaron and Clive. The story goes back and forth between the seventies, when they were nigh on inseparable as teenage boys, and the present, with them in their sixties, not having had contact in forty years. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical thread, I think it captures the Zeitgeist admirably and I loved the interaction of the brothers, their symbiosis almost, but also their clashes, their relationship with their mum and their absent father. In the present day, that bond is clearly still there, although neither of them is willing to admit it. It’s a truly fascinating character study, which I enjoyed all the more because my dad is part of twins as well.
I was eager to find out what caused the rift between the twins, and whether they would be able to surmount it. And what about those other twins, the more elusive duo Annette and Christine, who caused such consternation back in the day, basically because they were black girls living in a white estate. Fall is not exactly a thriller but it does have all the elements I adore in thrillers: all the mystery, all the suspense, a possible murder, and excellent characterisation to boot.
Fall drew me in from the very first sentence and held me captive until the very last. And both start and finish had me in goosebumps, such is the beauty of West Camel’s writing. Fall is an absolutely beautiful story, quite hard in places because it doesn’t shy away from some tough themes, racism being the one that stood out most for me, but it also touches on issues like motherhood vs professional success and the sacrifices one is willing to make.
Fall is not set in winter, on the contrary, a large chunk of it is set in summer, still it feels like the perfect story to curl up with on the sofa on a gloomy winter’s day and have its sentences whisk you away. Recommended.
Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the gorgeous proof. All opinions are my own.