where the writers are
The Fall

I’d never heard of Simon Mawer, but last year he published a novel called The Glass Room and a review of it mentioned and praised an earlier novel, The Fall, which prompted my husband Richard, who is also a writer, to check The Fall out of the library. After reading it, he recommended it to me, pretty insistently, to the point of telling me I was wasting my time by reading anything else first. Stubborn woman that I am, I finished a long memoir before turning to The Fall, as much to restore marital harmony as to enjoy the book.

The protagonists are mountaineers. Although I love hiking, I’ve never climbed a mountain, nor have I had any inclination to do so, yet I was fully drawn into this world, physically and emotionally. I could feel the wind and danger and the rope around my waist in a way that had never happened when I’d seen photos of climbers. This did not make me want to climb a mountain. In fact, it terrified me.

But vicariously scaling a cliff face was not what I liked best about the book: it was the characters and their stories. These people became as real for me as the folks next door. I wanted to invite them to dinner, hear their mountain stories, be their friend, and counsel them in their lives. There were characters I loved and admired, and others I disliked. All of their lives were bound together in a network of love, death, truth, lies, and mountain climbing. I worried about them, but the book came to a satisfying conclusion, so satisfying that I reread the ending several times.

Enough, I’m going out to get more of Simon Mawer’s books.