Selected for Richard & Judy's Spring Reads 2013
What do you do when your family's dream becomes a nightmare?
In the quiet of a New Zealand winter's night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He's fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse. At first, Finn's fall looks like a horrible accident; but his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it really happened. And she isn't telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
©2012 Charity Norman (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd
"Skilfully written" (Richard's review, Richard and Judy's Spring Reads 2013)
"Original, wonderfully written and utterly gripping." (The Sun)
The story begins with five year old Finn's fall from a balcony at his home. There are hints from the beginning that this is not a simple accident but as we come to know more about each of the characters it is hard to believe that any of them would be responsible for Finn's injuries. The story is told from the viewpoint of Finn's mother, Martha, who reveals how she came to be at the hospital at this point in time, interspersed with chapters detailing her time in hospital - visits from police and social workers and Martha's anxiety on not being able to contact her husband. I found this occassionally irritating as I was so involved with the her telling of her family's history that I did not want to be brought back to the hospital scenes. I loved the New Zealand setting as the wild landscapes, beautiful beaches and local characters were vividly brought to life. The interweaving of the local legends with the modern story was especially skillful. The story was beautifully read and I found it hard to stop listening, especially in the second half of the book when the pace picked up. I found I was thinking about the story long after I had finished it. Charity Norman has been compared to Jodi Picoult and this is a fair comparison. An excellent drama which kept me guessing until the end.
From the beginning there is an inkling that there's much more to the story that the aftermath of an accident. Gradually the listener get to know and care about the main players and travels with them back as forth through time so that their back-story enriches our knowledge of their characters and motivations. I was drawn into the life and travails of the McNamara family as they make a new start in New Zealand. Tension mounts and the story becomes even more gripping. Although there are heart-rending scenes they are leavened by enchanting and funny insights into the minds and exploits of the 5 year old twins who are central to the story.
The narrator is superb. She is able to give different voices the characters such that I felt they were real people.
It's a marvelous, well-written book that I was sorry to finish.
Really enjoyed this book. Was an easy listen with likeable characters and interesting plot against the lovely back drop of new zealand. The narration was ok but her accents were terrible and she had some very weird pronunciations for certain words but not too distracting.
Slow, very, very slow. The Narrators voice was the most irritating I have ever encountered. When she was imitating the young boys in the story, I found myself getting more and more irritated.
I am sorry to say I had to abandon it just after the beginning of part 2. I rarely, if ever, leave a book once I start it. After the fall did not have enough to keep me interested. Despite the irritating narrator, I would like to think I would have persevered if the story was gripping enough.
Far too slow. I felt there was never any great momentum.
The Narrator detracted from the book from the start to where I eventually abandoned it, the beginning of part 2.
Her imitation of the young boys was painful. The baby voice and the 'ickle' type of language was too much for me to bear. I suppose other people might not find 'babyish voices doing baby talk ' as annoying as I did.
No particular characters grabbed me. The young Finn I would lose, if for no other reason than the narrator would not have tortured me with baby talk.
The reason I chose this book is, it had received good reviews on amazon. I would not rule out reading another of Charity Normans novels. I will definitely avoid that particular narrator though.
I am an avid multi tasker, I love to listen as I walk, ride, clean... Mostly love crime novels but have an occasional foray into other genre
I bought this book after reading other reviews. Found the narrator annoying, she sounded like a radio 4 announcer. Predictable, nothing really happens novel with characters making annoying decisions!
A delightful read translated perfectly into a great listen. The story is thought provoking, well written and gripping. It's characters' flaws and strengths are beautifully drawn and bring them to life easily and sympathetically.
The different threads in the story will resonate in many readers' lives and certainly gave me pause for thought. I liked all the characters, cared about what happened to them and missed the book when I had completed it.
The audio version is extremely well read with good voice characterisation and a calm and soothing tone overall. Highly recommended.
Say something about yourself!
This book again was a recommendation by Richard and Judy and hence I got it. It starts with a young boy having a fall and then goes backwards and forwards throughout the story.
I always believe in starting with the positive. The detail of New Zealand was lovely.
The narrator (Im sorry) sounds like she has just been diagnosed with severe depression and drags the reader down with her.
However I think she is suited to the main character Martha who (in my opinion) is as dreary as ditch water, miserable who would not recognise the word 'fun' if it slapped her on the face!
The whole thing is so boring and I kept going with it as I thought it would get better. Martha is supposedly a mature adult yet the things she says and her thought processes around her daughter and what she is doing shows immaturity and such a lack of insight.
The character of Bianca who is characterised as a teenager/young woman is mature insightful and everything that Martha is not. If you decide to read this story you will see what I mean. I could say so much more but it would give away some of the plot.
Anyway I wish you luck with this one if you decide to read it Im glad its over for me. I will be contacting Audible asking for a refund on this one.
The story is not yet finished and so I'm hanging on - really enjoying the story and mounting tension BUT - it's hard to tell whether the children are badly written or badly read - probably a bit of both. They say improbably 'twee' things which the narrator then renders worse with a high-pitched rendition of a child's voice - yuk! ... and the children say quite a lot throughout this book!
You kind of guess half way through - but it doesn't spoil a thing. A sensitively written novel that doesn't overly dramatise any particular issue. I personally really liked the post note that tied everything up and left you feeling good after some real ups and downs.
"After the fall"
Yes. Nicolette McKenzie did a wonderful job narrating this book. With the exceptions of her accents, which were passable (not great), her tone was pitch-perfect and emotion handled like a paint brush. Her ability to immitate children's voices was well-done without being really annoying, a feat indeed!
I enjoyed this book and was hooked from the very beginning. One thing I couldn't understand, and probably may not, is Martha's ability to keep secrets to the detriment of her family. Perhaps I will reread this book to get an understanding of the complex loyalties that are beneath the surface, but at a first read I just couldn't get it (the only reason I gave this book 4 stars).
I will read more by both this author and narrator - assuming that whoever published Freeing Grace will allow it to be available in my country (which, as of this review, has not happened).
Great work by a talented author and narrator.
"Fascinating insight into complex family issues"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Issues around redundancy, blended family, immigration and addiction are all covered with sensitivity and depth of insight. Characters are well developed and believable.I will be looking for more from this author.
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