Stone's Fall by Iain Pears
|Stone's Fall by Iain Pears|
|Genre: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This big, sweeping novel ticks a lot of boxes. Written in the style of many of the classics, it's a bitter-sweet love story, crossing both timelines and countries with a smattering of good, old-fashioned espionage and murder thrown in the mix ... and the ending is superlative.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 608||Date: June 2010|
I read Iain Pears' The Portrait a year or so ago and loved it so I was really looking forward to reading this novel. The front cover is strikingly handsome and hints of good things to come between its covers. The novel is divided up into sizeable chunks of three. Three different decades and three different locations. Pears then dips in and out of the main characters' lives, telling the reader basically what makes them tick.
The principal characters are very different from each other which adds to the overall sense of a very good read. There's a haughty, European aristocrat who is currently the talk of London town. There's a gruff British industrialist. And there's a dogged and determined journalist. Obviously there's a juicy story to get to the bottom of. Is this journalist up to the task?
I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say that Mr Stone (the industrialist) has died. Is it an accident? Or is some sort of foul play suspected? His grieving widow plays her part beautifully. It's a fact that Mr Stone had been so influential in his business life that people in high places could have been called upon to hush up the whole sorry business. So why didn't they? But there's a rather specific request in his will and so the past lives of this seemingly happily married couple unfold.
The journalist is snared by money. He has serious misgivings about his own abilities but ploughs on regardless. Pears throws up many, many delicious questions for the reader right from the word go and I for one, was keen to find out more. In fact, I found myself immersed in the story almost straight away. It's the kind of book that seems to get its claws into you early on. It's not easy to put down. And on top of all that, it's a big, thumping novel with each and every page absolutely crammed with Pears' stylish and slick prose.
Stone's immense wealth is mentioned time and time again. Here's one of the many examples, When he travelled on the Orient Express he had his own private coach that no one but he used. John Stone had his finger in a lot of pies.
The reader also catches numerous glimpses of the vast gulf between the haves and the have-nots, particularly when Pears is writing about London. And there's also some interesting paragraphs all about journalism and its style and production of that time. There's also quite a few, shall we say, shady characters going about their shady business in this novel. They are so good at what they do that they are almost like shadows. And yes, just like shadows, some do actually disappear. Great stuff. But it's not overplayed as in some novels nor is it over-the-top. This is elegant writing and I loved it all.
All of the main characters' lives are fascinating. We are spared no details and I thoroughly appreciated these intricate life histories. For me, the life of John Stone's widow was utterly fascinating. She seems to fascinate all those around her simply by her sheer presence. But by the time you have trawled through her life, you are fascinated ten times over. I certainly was. Pears has created truly breath-taking original characters throughout. When all of the pieces are carefully put together towards the end, the final revelation is wonderful. This is one of the best fiction novels I've read this year. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals the you mightenjoy The Worms of Euston Square by William Sutton
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