Before The Fall
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
9 Jun. 2016
Poetic, totally engrossing, thought provoking on so many levels and as accurate an indictment of our perceptions as to what is and what isn’t truth, Noah Hawley’s 4th novel, Before the Fall, is unquestionably one of the most perceptive and beautifully crafted novels you will read this year.
When talented but struggling artist Scott Burroughs is offered a lift back to New York from Martha’s Vineyard, little does he realise the implications. For this lift is aboard a private jet and Fate has a bumpy ride in store for Scott. The plane is owned by multi-millionaire David Bateman, CEO of the ‘news-making rather than news-reporting’ ALC News. In addition to David, his wife Maggie and their two children, nine-year-old Rachel and four-year-old son JJ, are ‘friends’ Ben and Sarah Kipling.
When the aircraft crashes into the sea some few minutes into the flight, the only survivors are Scott and JJ, whom Scott helps to survive the many hours they have to spend in the water before making it to land. The question is why did the plane crash and how do those looking in from the outside view the survivors and their motives.
This is a work of such multi-layered brilliance, it is difficult to know where to begin in singing its praises. Perhaps by mentioning that Hawley is not only the creator of the outstanding TV series Fargo, but also who’s debut novel, The Good Father, hit the shelves to world wide acclaim.
None of this, however, is preparation for what transpires throughout the 400 + pages that comprises Before the Fall. Indeed, so rare is that a book of such magnitude – due largely to the picturesque way in which all of the characters have not only been created on the page, but whisper and linger in the mind long after the story is finished – has such a profound and deeply moving effect.
Why? Possibly because Scott, JJ, Eleanor, Doug, Layla, Bill Milligan et al are so phenomenally well drawn, we can do nothing but feel we have met them all be it in different guises. Then there is the perception that, yes, we too have all acted as those within the telling of the tale have acted – for good and bad – and so find that this work of fiction becomes deeply personal the more pages that are completed.
More than just a psychological thriller, Before the Fall is an epic account of how the media and viewers are as responsible as each other for judging and pre-judging particular world events, without any real consideration for those whose lives are so deeply affected by them … the “victims”. As such, this a not simply a book to enjoy but also one that serves as a mantra for the everyday whose message should be taken and grasped and pulled to the heart like the precious, rare crafted thing of beauty that it is.