|Love Falls by Esther Freud|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: At the time of the 1980 Royal wedding Lara goes with her father to Tuscany and falls in love. A wonderful evocation of the pains of first love and adolesence set against the Tuscan countryside and the excitement of the Palio it comes highly recommended by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: June 2008|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
Just a week before Charles' and Diana's royal wedding and three months after her seventeenth birthday Lara goes on holiday to Tuscany with her father. The invitation was surprising as Lara and Lambert barely know one another - it's many years since he lived with her mother and in the intervening years Lara and Cathy have led a nomadic life. Father and daughter are going to stay with Lambert's old friend, Caroline, who has taken a house for the summer. Caroline is ill, but determined to make the most of what time she has left and it's at dinner one evening with the Willoughbys, their nearest neighbours, that Lara meets Kip.
Kip has five older sisters and he's carelessly, self-indulgently indolent in the way of the rich and titled, but he seems as drawn to Lara as she is to him. Lara had been shocked when Caroline and her father talked about how Charles' (unsuitable) girlfriend had arranged his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer so it's little wonder that she's out of her depth with the Willoughbys and their illicit liaisons and long-running feuds.
Esther Freud has perfectly captured the awkwardness and uncertainties of adolescence, the joy and pain of first love. Lara's never quite certain how Kip feels about her, or she about him. Does she love him, or does she just not want to be without him? She sees his faults, his cavalier approach to the effect his actions have on others, and consciously decides to overlook them. The more deeply she becomes embroiled with Kip and his family the more she is consumed with dread and unanswered questions.
Kip is spoilt, careless of others, but then he's not had that many good examples to learn from. His father (if indeed he is) is in Italy (for tax reasons, we gather) but it's not his wife he's with, but his girlfriend. Kip and his sisters know that all will be well so long as they don't mention Pamela to their mother. It's not just a book about adolescence though. It's also about the idiocy of being an adult and the need to take risks to impress, about how the children are sometimes more mature than their elders. The adults are as careless of the welfare of the young adults as they are of each other - as Lara finds to her cost.
All this is set against the backdrop of the stunning Tuscan countryside, sun-scorched by day and rustling with crickets at night. The Willoughbys live in a hill-top hamlet - Andrew Willoughby bought out the locals one by one and made it all his own. The nearest town is Sienna, famous for the Palio, the horse race run in the centre of the town and the excitement and spectacle of the event runs through the book.
I loved this story. Initially I thought that I would find the absence of chapters off-putting but it worked perfectly. Freud's writing is superb and perfectly paced, honest and unflinching in the way that it tells its story. I felt absurdly cheated when I turned the last page and there was no more.
I'd like to thank the wonderful people at Bloomsbury for sending me this book.
If this book appeals to you then you might also like to read The Eyrie by Stevie Davies.
You can read more book reviews or buy Love Falls by Esther Freud at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Love Falls by Esther Freud at Amazon.com.
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