All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Edge Of The Fall by Kate Williams

on January 27, 2016

Edge Of The FallThe Edge Of The Fall
Kate Williams
Hachette AUS
2016, 432p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

The Edge of the Fall is the sequel to Kate Williams’s hit novel The Storms of War and the second book in a groundbreaking, epic trilogy that tells the story of the de Witt family between 1914 and 1939: ideal for fans of Downton Abbey, The Rules of Civility, Somewhere in France, Atonement and The Paris Wife

An utterly spellbinding novel of the 1920s in London and Paris,The Edge of the Fall is bestselling author Kate Williams’s follow-up to her beloved and universally praised novel The Storms of War: the second volume in an epic, cinematic historical saga that follows the de Witt family through the drama and tumult of the post–World War I world.

In the aftermath of the Great War, the de Witt family are struggling to piece together the shattered fragments of their lives. Rudolf and his wife, Verena, still reeling from the loss of their second son, don’t know how to function in the post-war world. Stoneythorpe Hall has become an empty shell with no servants to ensure its upkeep. The de Witt children have changed too: Eldest son Arthur has returned, but a shroud of mystery surrounds his wartime business dealings in Europe. Socialite-turned-socialist Emmeline is passionate about carving out a new niche for herself in life, one that comes with its own dangers. And idealistic, adventurous Celia, the heart of the family and the de Witt’s youngest daughter, is still desperate to spread her wings and see more of the world. To escape Stoneythorpe and the painful secrets that lie there, she moves to London and embraces life and love in the Roaring Twenties.

At once romantic and real, sweeping and sensitive, The Edge of the Fall is brimming with intrigue and emotion, balancing the glamour of the era with the gritty reality of life in a world changed forever by war. It is a glorious feat of storytelling and a must-read for those who loved The Storms of War and fans of historical fiction everywhere, from the brilliant young story teller recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as among the “queens of contemporary fiction.”

It seems I’m forever requesting or picking up books without realising that they’re the sequel to a previous one because I read this one without knowing until today when I went to c&p the description, that it’s a sequel. That explains quite a few things I think. If I’d read The Storms of War before this one I would’ve grasped the family’s situations much better and things that felt a bit vague, such as the marriage of the sister of the main character, would’ve made more sense.

The story begins at the end of WWI and the de Witt’s are struggling to reestablish their places in the world. Their stately pile was used as a hospital during the war and because of family patriarch Rudolf’s German extraction, their lives are definitely not what they once were. Oldest son Arthur has returned from abroad but seems sly and secretive. Elder daughter Emmeline has married and moved to London now and Celia, youngest of all has returned from doing her part for the war effort. The family are preparing to welcome Rudolf and Verena’s niece Louisa to the household and Celia is excited, hoping to befriend her. She is to be disappointed though as Louisa it seems, bonds far more quickly with Arthur despite their significant age gap. When Arthur takes Louisa to London, ostensibly to give her a season it instead sets forth a storm of tragic events that will test the family’s strength and faith in each other and shine more of a negative light upon their heritage.

The biggest problem for me in this book was that it felt so very obvious. The prologue means that there is basically no doubt in the reader’s mind what occurs and so Celia and everyone running around trying to get to the truth of it, trying to unravel a mystery made for pages and pages of somewhat tedious reading. I know the characters aren’t aware of the same things that the reader is but it felt like there should’ve been more of an attempt to blur the lines a little, make a bit “did it or didn’t it?” when really it seems as though there’s no doubt from the very get-go. Everyone seems to place mostly unwavering faith in a lazy, greedy wastrel who doesn’t really deserve their loyalty and I felt quite dissatisfied with how the bulk of that story played out.

The story shifts between Celia and Louisa and I have to say, I did find Louisa’s portion much more interesting than Celia’s and perhaps that was because I didn’t know about the previous book when I read this one. Celia’s story revolves too much around some “fauxmance” with Tom, the son of the help at her parent’s home and it never seemed to be going anywhere to me, always floundering and the whole thing just felt very awkward to read, especially after Tom’s confession. Louisa’s story was much more interesting but I had to wait so long to really get to it and it felt like a lot of the really meaty part was missed out as we skipped away again. Louisa’s narrative should’ve been a bigger presence in this story, considering all that happened. Instead I felt it got too bogged down with Celia, always back to Celia and for a lot of the time, she really didn’t have much going on until well after the time of Louisa’s stay at Celia’s family home and her time in London. Celia’s trip to Germany was quite interesting, a glimpse into the lifestyles of those who had made money from the war in Baden-Baden. Most of Celia’s story seemed to come much late in the book (and apparently this is the second novel in a trilogy, so I think I can see where the third book is going) but by the time it all began to unfold, I think I’d kind of lost interest. Everything felt too contrived, no one really talked to each other, just about everyone could’ve done with a few home truths.

It seemed promising at first but didn’t live up to my expectations. The story jumped around too much for me and elaborated too much on stuff that didn’t interest me and skimmed over what did as well as signposted the major “dilemma” or climax of the novel far too obviously. Even now that I know it’s a trilogy and a lot is explained probably in book 1, quite a bit of my dissatisfaction with this book doesn’t have much to do with that.


Book #8 of 2016



One response to “Review: The Edge Of The Fall by Kate Williams

  1. […] The Edge Of The Fall by Kate Williams. A book I read without realising that it was part of a series, or linked books. I didn’t mind it but the fact that I felt a bit left out of the family dynamics meant it was only a so-so read for me. I might’ve liked it more if I’d read the previous book. […]

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