Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey
|Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A great read: brilliant characters and a compelling story line. I couldn't put it down. Lizzy Mumfrey popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 364||Date: April 2017|
|Publisher: I_AM Self-Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
Charlton's the sort of village where people aspire to live, despite its apparent ordinariness. There's the usual mix of commuters (it's not too far from London) and those who make their lives in the village. Richard Hughes is a commuter, but his wife Jessica works at the local academy, where both their children - Alfie and Hannah - are pupils. Pete Cole is a newly-promoted police superintendent and clearly still fond of his voluptuous wife, Susie. Actually, some of that voluptuousness might be better described as fat - Pete suspects that he might need longer arms to hug her before long. Less popular is Gary Webber. He's the sort of man who causes people to heave a sigh of relief when he joins someone else for a drink at the golf club.
Pete and Richard can't understand why Susie has invited the Webbers to the dinner party she's throwing to celebrate Pete's promotion, but there are going to be enough people to dilute him. Susie and Jessica are part of the 'eternal triangle' of close women friends and Leah will be at the table, along with husband Farrukh Ahmed. Eight would really have been enough, but Susie can't not invite an old friend, Caroline and her husband Thomas. Caroline's definitely superior and very sniffy about the sort of food which Susie serves. There's a bit of angst - Gary can't understand why Leah, as a Muslim woman, doesn't like being touched, but as dinner parties go it's a success.
One of the subjects of conversation is the trip that the year 12 kids from the local academy are taking to see the state opening of parliament. As a parent Leah is keen to go so that she can chaperone her daughter Aisha: unless she's chaperoned, Aisha won't be going. Leah's not cleared to work with kids, but Susie is because she helps with Riding for the Disabled and the first crack in the women's friendship shows when Susie is asked to go on the trip, but Leah is refused. Coincidentally, Pete's going to be on duty in London that day. Gary Webber's daughter is going on the trip, only she has other plans for what's going to happen: tired of the abuse she's been suffering at home she's decided to make a break for freedom.
So, you've got the picture? You think we're in for a delightful story of village politics and intrigue, rather like Gill Hornby's The Hive? Well, you're wrong, because the day of the school trip coincides with an appalling terrorist attack on London. It's on a scale to eclipse 9/11 and everyone's cosy, settled life is shattered. Who lives and who dies is only the start of it. There are the religious implications: did Leah know what was going to happen? Did Pete have an inkling and is that why some of his family weren't there? The headmaster of the school is an easy scapegoat - he shouldn't have allowed the trip to go ahead. And all this is on top of the normal guilt which survivors feel.
I'd planned to read this book over four days. When I thought I was reading an excellent story of village life it looked liked I'd get through it rather more quickly, but then I got to the meat of the story and I simply couldn't put it down. I finished the book in one sitting. Normal life was simply abandoned. The writing is excellent: Lizzy Mumfrey has the ability to show complex and terrible situations in such a way that you feel them viscerally. I'd understood the effects of a nuclear attack before but I'd never felt them quite so painfully and almost personally. It's a big subject, sensitively handled, but ultimately uplifting.
Normally I'd be telling you about how well the characters come off the page, the wonderful sense of location and what a great plot it is, but I don't think I need to. It's a big read, not in the sense of being a literary giant, but of being a book you're really going to enjoy reading. I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
You can read more about Lizzy Mumfrey here.
Lizzy Mumfrey was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fall Out by Lizzy Mumfrey at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.
A well written and well researched book - difficult to believe that this is the author's first - a salutary tale for the dangerous times that we are currently living in. Enjoyed the interview too.