Another recommendation, but unlike ‘Empire of the Sun’, I practically devoured ‘The Shock of the Fall’.
Dealing with the untimely death of his brother, Matthew Holmes works through guilt, despair and pain in this haunting novel. The pace is unrelenting, and as such it’s difficult to find a suitable place to stop – there are so many questions, and even the answers bring more until your head, much like Matthew’s, is swirling in an unstoppable vortex.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the opening, until I went back to it: it’s one of those ones where you need to understand the context of the novel, and the tone of Matthew’s illness, in order to appreciate the hurried and clumsy opening. It’s the perfect representation of how Matthew starts his writing, and the tone continues throughout so that you feel his anguish with him, and are desperate to crawl inside the pages and help him.
Filer’s career as a mental health nurse is blindingly clear through the sentimental and stark details in his novel. The setting it at once familiar and discomforting, highlighting the cyclical nature of Matthew’s illness, and how difficult it is to recover when memories repress you physically and mentally.
Without giving more away, this is a stunning debut from Filer, and provides the real shock of the fall into a novel that strips back what we tend to hide, and exposes a wound that is initially horrifying, but heals to show the potential of forgiveness and peace.