I finished reading The Fall by Simon Mawer yesterday. It is the story of Rob Dewar and Jamie Matthewson from their childhood up to Jamie’s death 40 years later. But it’s also the story of their parents and how their lives are interlinked. I found it enthralling, one of those books that make me want to look at the ending to see how it all turns out. I managed to stop myself, however, and read impatiently to the end anxious to know what actually happened between them all.
It moves between the two generations beginning in the present day, when Rob hears on the news that Jamie, a renowned mountaineer has fallen to his death in Snowdonia. No one is sure whether it was an accident or suicide. Then it moves back 40 years to the time when the two boys met, both fatherless – Jamie’s dad, Guy went missing when climbing Kangchenjunga and Rob’s parents are divorced, and back yet further again to 1940 when Guy Matthewson met the boys’ mothers – Meg (later calling herself Caroline) and Diana. And so the drama unfolds in the mountains of Wales and the Alps, culminating on the North Face of the Eiger.
The Fall is not just a gripping account of the dangers of rock climbing and mountaineering, but it’s also a love story, with the intricacies of relationships, and love, loss and betrayal at its core. The love stories and the climbing scenes are both shown through the imagery of falling with all its ambiguities – actual falls, falling in love, falling pregnant and falling from grace. It’s beautifully written, capturing not only the mountain landscape but also London during the Blitz. This is the second excellent book by Mawer that I’ve read, even though it has a rather predictable ending.
I’m still reading Agatha Christie’s An Autobiography and will be for some time as it is long and detailed – 550 pages printed in a very small font, which makes it impossible for me to read it in bed. But it is fascinating. It’s not just an account of her life but is full of her thoughts and questions about the nature of life and memory:
I am today the same person as that solemn little girl with pale flaxen sausage-curls. the house in which the spirit dwells, grows, develops instincts and tastes and emotions and intellectual capacities, but I myself, the true Agatha, am the same. I do not know the whole Agatha. The whole Agatha, so I believe, is known only to God.
So there we are, all of us, little Agatha Miller, and big Agatha Miller, and Agatha Christie and Agatha Mallowan proceeding on our way – where? That one doesn’t know – which of course makes life exciting. I have always thought life exciting and I still do. (page 11)
I’ll be writing more about Agatha Christie on Wednesday for my contribution to the Agatha Christie Blog Tour.