Falling Short by Lex Coulton

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Falling Short by Lex Coulton

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kate Jones
Reviewed by Kate Jones
Summary: A humorous first novel with a good story, and a lot of heart.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: June 2018
Publisher: John Murray
ISBN: 978-1473669581

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Lex Coulton's debut novel is a story about mistakes, failures, and relationships. The main protagonist, Frances Pilgrim, is a sixth form English teacher who has recently fallen out with her best friend Jackson, a work colleague, and is grappling with the increasingly eccentric behaviour of her mother. This relationship is complicated by the fact that Frances's father disappeared at sea when she was five years old.

Part of the story is also seen through the lens of Jackson, who recounts a time in his life when he made a huge relationship faux pas in his country of birth, South Africa. It is clear from the start that the two are perfectly imperfect adults who are not very good at relationships.

The drama comes when the mystery of Frances's missing father raises its head, and it was this thread that I felt gave the story heart and provided a need to keep turning the pages. Before around half way through the novel, I had found it tricky to gel with any of the characters fully, and it is obvious that Coulton is herself a former English teacher. There are a lot of in-jokes I think teachers or former teachers would latch on to, and I felt the behaviour of Jackson toward younger female students made him difficult to like.

As the pace picked up toward the middle of the book, however, Jackson did redeem himself somewhat, and I began to feel more empathy for the character of Frances.

The book has, to my mind, a few too many unusually named characters, especially the students, and it felt that this could have been streamlined. There is also a theme of The Tempest running through the story, and other poetry quotes, which again, point toward the writer being an English scholar. These didn't put me off, having studied English myself, but may have seemed more difficult to overcome for anyone not familiar with the play. It felt a little bit like the novel wanted to be a modern, bestseller type romp on the one hand, and a more literary text on the other.

For me, it met somewhere in the middle, and was an enjoyable read overall.

If you enjoyed this, you might like How to be Happy by Eva Woods

Buy Falling Short by Lex Coulton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Falling Short by Lex Coulton at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Falling Short by Lex Coulton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Falling Short by Lex Coulton at Amazon.com.


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