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Before the Fall by Juliet West
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Before the Fall (2016)

by Juliet West

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I enjoyed - whilst not being entirely blown away by - this novel of WWI in the East End. It taught me that bombing took place on the British mainland during that war - I had previously thought it all took place down a trench in Belgium, so I have learned something and that's always good. Interesting too was the incidental information about fashion and make-up during a time of "make do and mend". In the story, the central characters face a dilemma which develops gradually to a crescendo very close to the end. It was all resolved within a page or two - and given that this was where much of the real drama was to be found, it was perhaps a shame more time and space wasn't given to it. It left me with an interesting puzzle concerning the character Daniel: is the reader supposed to consider him culpable for the events? My instinct would be yes, but the book felt studiously neutral on this point. ( )
  jayne_charles | Mar 11, 2017 |
First let me start by saying I do not like what passes for modern romance. That is the uber handsome, chisel chinned, smooth chested stallion drivel. I’ve reviewed a few of those and do not wish to ever read another. Each to their own.
Before the Fall is none of that, not even close. Set in London’s docklands during the First World War it is the last place you’d want to find Mr Tall Dark and Handsome. What we do have is a real world populated by real people. The story is based on true events from the time. Our hero is not a hero he’s a welder. The heroine is mother of two whose husband is at war. Their romance should never have been, but it was and it tore families apart.
This a work of craftsmanship. A first novel to be proud of. Beautifully written and well told. So much so it was the only romance novel I have wanted to sit and read. It has been well researched not just fragments from postcards joined hastily together. There are copies of police statements, witness accounts and letters from the family all of which build upon the reality of a truly desperate love.
I will not speak of the plot as it is so tight any clues would just spoil it. Juliet West wastes no words, there are no needless side stories just the plain facts all woven together in a rich tapestry of old London. This is not a war story, it is about those left behind: the mothers, the children, the unfit and few white feathers. To read this novel is to see how romance should be coloured in anything else is just shades of grey.
A truly brilliant book and a well-deserved 5 stars.
( )
  MathewBridle | May 4, 2015 |
First let me start by saying I do not like what passes for modern romance. That is the uber handsome, chisel chinned, smooth chested stallion drivel. I’ve reviewed a few of those and do not wish to ever read another. Each to their own.
Before the Fall is none of that, not even close. Set in London’s docklands during the First World War it is the last place you’d want to find Mr Tall Dark and Handsome. What we do have is a real world populated by real people. The story is based on true events from the time. Our hero is not a hero he’s a welder. The heroine is mother of two whose husband is at war. Their romance should never have been, but it was and it tore families apart.
This a work of craftsmanship. A first novel to be proud of. Beautifully written and well told. So much so it was the only romance novel I have wanted to sit and read. It has been well researched not just fragments from postcards joined hastily together. There are copies of police statements, witness accounts and letters from the family all of which build upon the reality of a truly desperate love.
I will not speak of the plot as it is so tight any clues would just spoil it. Juliet West wastes no words, there are no needless side stories just the plain facts all woven together in a rich tapestry of old London. This is not a war story, it is about those left behind: the mothers, the children, the unfit and few white feathers. To read this novel is to see how romance should be coloured in anything else is just shades of grey.
A truly brilliant book and a well-deserved 5 stars.
( )
  MathewBridle | May 4, 2015 |
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Epigraph
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon...

'The Going',
THOMAS HARDY
Dedication
For Mum. Dad, Alison and Rob
with love
First words
Leman Street Police Station
18th day of July 1918

Statement of Herbert Tilling
Motorman

I am a motorman employed by the Metropolitan Railway Company.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London's East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everything together. But when Hannah takes a job in a cafe, she discovers a glimpse of freedom from her needy young children, her spiteful sister and her desperately ill father.

While the conflict drags on, Hannah battles with the overwhelming burden of 'duty'. She has sacrificed so much for a husband who left her behind, a husband who may never come home. Then, when she meets Daniel - thoughtful, intelligent, quietly captivating - Hannah finds herself faced with the most dangerous temptation.

As the war grips tighter and bombs fall down upon the streets, the stakes for the couple are raised ever higher. Soon Hannah and Daniel will realize just how precarious their happiness is, as their destiny rushes towards them...
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1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London's East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everything together. But when Hannah takes a job in a caf?, she discovers a glimpse of freedom away from her needy young children, her spiteful sister and desperately ill father.… (more)

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