Falling, by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Henry lives alone on a boat moored on the canal. When Daisy, who is a writer, buys a cottage nearby he plans to make her fall in love with him. But Henry isn't as nice as he would have Daisy believe.

The standard of writing here puts it in a different class from Fatal Voyage, and it was a treat to listen to. The story is told alternately from Henry's point of view (in the first person) and Daisy's (in the third person) which suggests more possibilities than seemed to be realised, although perhaps hearing it read out loud lessens the impact of the first/third person switch.

Henry's character and behaviour was very convincingly described, and despite being unusual didn't seem at all implausible. The switches of perspective between hearing Henry describe a strategem that he will use and then hearing what Daisy felt about it were very effective: I felt myself urging Daisy "don't fall for it".

There's a fair amount of background story to each of the characters, which, from a less capable writer could have got in the way of the story. But none of it felt superfluous, and I would happily have had much more.

What was interesting about Henry's story was that you learn it partly from Henry's private thoughts, and partly from Henry's conversations (imagined and actual) with Daisy. And since what Daisy hears is a distorted version, and the honesty of Henry's own recollections is in doubt, "what really happened" blurs in the mind of the reader too.

The only slight let-down in the book was the ending, which seemed a bit clumsily done after the gentle build up of tension throughout the rest of the story. Nevertheless, it was a really good listen; I'd listen to it/read it again, and will try to check out more books by this author.

Completed : 22-Mar-2003 (audiobook, read by Alan Bates and Diana Quick)

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