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Before The Fall

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Guilt laps at me like a rising tide, but I won't let it seep in. Wicked or not, I can't be sorry. How can I be sorry when I feel like this, as if my life has started up brand new, sharp and colourful, a swirl of terror and bliss . . .

1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London's East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everyth
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 22nd 2014 by Pan
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Jun 19, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
Based on a true story, this is a beautifully written and powerful story of a love affair against the backdrop of the Great War.

Hannah Loxwood’s husband has gone to war and she is left with their two children. She has had to give up her home and move in with her not so nice sister and lecherous husband. In order to bring some money in and to find some freedom from the stifling, miserable atmosphere, Hannah takes a job in a café. It is there that she first meets Daniel Blake, a widower, who as a
Liz Barnsley
Feb 25, 2014 Liz Barnsley rated it it was amazing
Publication Date: 22nd May 2014 Pan Macmillan

Thank you to the author and publisher for the Advance Reading Copy.

1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London’s East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everything together. But when Hannah takes a job in a cafe, she discovers a glimpse of freedom away from her needy young children, her spiteful sister and desperately ill father.
While the conflict drags on, Hannah battles with the overwhelming burden of
May 07, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Hannah Loxwood always dreamt that she would get out of the East End. She practised her handwriting, she was determined to get a good job and make something of her life. Like many girls before her, she instead found herself replaying her mother's life. Pregnant; a quick wedding and within a couple of years a mother of two young children. Her dreams shattered.

Daniel is not like the other young men in the neighbourhood. Having had a glimpse into the life of the gentry and introduced to the literary
Nov 05, 2014 Thebooktrail rated it it was amazing
Before the Fall is a story with WW1 as its backdrop but at its core is a tale of love, hope, loss and struggle from the viewpoint of Hannah Loxwood left behind to deal with life in East End London.

Set in and around the streets of places such as Canning Town and Poplar, we experience the streets, the sights, sounds and smells of the war time capital

We map all of the locations in the novel on Booktrail locations of Before the Fall

Before the Fall is a raw and extremely personal account of the war
Martine Bailey
Mar 09, 2015 Martine Bailey rated it it was amazing
Based on a true story, Juliet West’s powerful novel begins gently with a lucid depiction of the lives of those left behind in London’s East End during World War 1. Hannah Loxwood is a sensitive young wife and mother who gradually succumbs to an attraction to Daniel Blake, a young widower also at odds with the limited options of life as a self-educated working man. Touching on themes in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and hints of Dickens’ Great Expectations, the reader is drawn into a working class ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
When I read and reviewed Wake by Anna Hope, I really thought there couldn't be another novel quite that good about people's lives set against the backdrop of the First World War. But I was wrong - I've just finished reading an ARC of the wonderful Before The Fall by Juliet West, can't wait to shout about it from the rooftops. If you're looking for another book that captures the imagination and enthralls you throughout, set during that era, don't miss this one whatever you do.

The cover note tells
Charlotte Jones
May 07, 2014 Charlotte Jones rated it it was amazing
In many ways a book set against the backdrop of war, in this case the Great War, World War I, is expected to have a certain level of tension and drama and this book does not disappoint on that front. Straight away, the book explores the effects of the war of a variety of different people, exploring relationships and parenthood, illness and health, pride and guilt. These are all things that sometimes the reader comes to expect from a war novel but this book, inspired by a true story, seems to ...more
May 23, 2014 Tracy rated it it was amazing
Juliet West’s debut novel Before the Fall is described as a ‘compelling, moving tale of a love affair, set in the East End during World War One and based on an unforgettable real life story’. And yet it is so much more.
I was gripped by Hannah’s voice and story, and read the whole book over a couple of days.

The novel weaves between Hannah’s narrative and Daniel’s story. It was the genuine voices of the main characters that hooked me. They are complex and intelligent, yet both outsiders not reall
Mathew Bridle
Dec 31, 2014 Mathew Bridle rated it it was amazing
First let me start by saying I do not like what passes for modern romance. That is the uber handsome, chisel chinned, smooth chested stallion drivel. I’ve reviewed a few of those and do not wish to ever read another. Each to their own.
Before the Fall is none of that, not even close. Set in London’s docklands during the First World War it is the last place you’d want to find Mr Tall Dark and Handsome. What we do have is a real world populated by real people. The story is based on true events from
Sonya Alford
May 27, 2014 Sonya Alford rated it it was amazing
'Before the Fall' was published by Macmillan on the 22nd May 2014. I was very kindly sent a copy to review. Inspired by a true story, this is Juliet West’s debut novel.

It is September 1916 and the Great War is raging across the channel. Hannah Loxwood lives in the East End of London in Canning Town. Her husband is away fighting and as the war drags on, like many other people Hannah starts to wonder if he will ever come home. Left with her two young children to look after, she is finding life ver
Oct 25, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on

Firstly, major thanks to the publishers for sending me a hardback copy of Before The Fall to review! There's nothing like the glossy feel of a book being held in your hands as you lose yourself to the hundreds of pages. So, thank you!

Reading back through the blurb, now that I've finished the novel, makes me feel all tingly inside. Before The Fall has affected me in a way that only an epic story can achieve. By that I mean that I'm still s
Before the Fall is Juliet West's debut. The historical fiction novel is inspired by real events in London during the First World War.

I expected more from this one, based on the blurb on the back of the book, and the many positive reviews I read online. It's not that I didn't like all of it. The descriptions of London really made the city come alive, and halfway through the book it really felt like I knew what it was like to live there at that time.

I had a small issue with the narrative. Hanna
Jun 27, 2014 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Hannah’s husband George is sent away to fight in World War 1, Hannah’s life is turned upside down. She and her two young children are forced to leave their old home to move in with Hannah’s sister who is tolerating her, but will never be her best friend. There isn’t much money and in order to contribute a little, Hannah takes on a job in a Café. This new role is not just helping financially, but also gives Hannah a “break” from her family. After meeting Daniel, a regular customer in the ...more
Katie Mcsweeney
Dec 08, 2015 Katie Mcsweeney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stand corrected - this book was wonderful.

Around the middle there was a lull and I thought that I hated it... but... I kept going back to it (despite the other 20 books I'm reading at the moment).

The main character is a passionless wonder. She infuriated me and I couldn't understand how she was so detached from everyone and everything. I wanted to slap her, I passionately hated her dispassion. I just couldn't get my head around her behaviour but the writing was so compelling that I wanted to r
Barbara Copperthwaite
Nov 14, 2015 Barbara Copperthwaite rated it really liked it
Beautifully and evocatively written, Before The Fall, is a tale of love that could only have happened during the time it is set. The backdrop is the First World War, a period when so much was changing and yet old values were also still clung to, so. Amongst all of this, Daniel and Hannah meet.
Juliet West, the author, breathes life into her characters to such an extent that by the end I was in tears for them. But it is the world surrounding them that I was most impressed with. West portrays it wi
Debra Watkins
Aug 11, 2014 Debra Watkins rated it it was amazing
I found out about this book via Twitter and the bookaday hashtag. It had all the elements I am attracted to in a novel; The Great War, romance, the East End and the added "true story" element.
I was not disappointed. It is not your stereotypical girl-meets-boy romance. This goes much deeper and much grittier than that. It had me drawn in from page one, so much so I felt as though I knew all the characters intimately; from Hannah Loxwood to her sleazy brother-in-law Alec, Mrs Stephens the cafe own
Perri Oldfield
Oct 13, 2014 Perri Oldfield rated it really liked it
I got this out from the library expecting it to be a fairly light read - just something to lure me back out of the reading-block I've been under for the past few months. Well it certainly wasn't the light-hearted romance novel I had hoped - but I still very much enjoyed it and read it within a few days. The characters were wonderful and I emphasised utterly with the main character, which is probably why the ending affected me as much as it did. The story was great too, if very sad, and it's left ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Eileen rated it liked it
Initially I was unsettled by the seeming fragmentation in Before the Fall. However, I soon realized that the author deliberately put the reader slightly off balance in an attempt to convey the prevailing atmosphere of war time London. How clearly the inconvenience, the loneliness, the anxiety, uncertainty and grief were conveyed! It was very well written and engrossing, but terribly sad. This quote from the back cover says it all. ‘As poignant as it is powerful. With tremendous sensitivity and ...more
Fleur Smithwick
Oct 26, 2015 Fleur Smithwick rated it it was amazing
I loved the writing: it is effortlessly beautiful and unpretentious. And what a disturbing story. I didn't know whether to love or hate the heroine Hannah but she certainly makes an impression. This is a story of love against the backdrop of the first world war; the story of a married woman who falls for a man who has one of those jobs that make you exempt. You really want things to work out for her, but at the same time, it's difficult to approve. The question is: Is true love more important ...more
Sarah Jasmon
Sep 12, 2015 Sarah Jasmon rated it it was amazing
Fiction based on actual events isn't usually my choice, as it so often has to compromise to stay within the facts. This is beautifully done, though, and I couldn't stop reading, wanting so much for everything to turn out ok, and knowing that really it wouldn't.

It's the middle of WW1, and Hannah Loxwood is living with her children in her sister's house while her husband is away in the army. Amid the uncertainty, struggle and loss, she meets Daniel, a man so different from everyone she knows. Her
May 03, 2015 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is set in London during the First World War. Hannah is a married mother of two, living with her sister and brother in law while her husband is away fighting for his country. She gets a job in a cafe where she meets, gradually gets to know and then falls in love with widower Daniel.

I enjoy novels set during the First and Second World Wars, particularly when we find out how people coped in England during these difficult times. Before The Fall certainly gets that across. This is describe
Sarah Tuckwell
Mar 12, 2015 Sarah Tuckwell rated it it was amazing
This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and once I'd started it I didn't want to put it down. I became so emotionally attached to some of the characters that certain turns of event brought me very close to tears and although I finished it a few days ago I'm still recovering.

Although this book is based on true events and therefore does fall into the 'historical fiction' category, for me it was so much more than any other historical fiction book that I've read. I would wholehearted
Sep 11, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it
A great, atmospheric novel about how one woman struggles to cope with two children while her husband is at the Front. She meets a man who is exempt from service, because he works for a shipbuilding company. They fall in love and the consequences of that are disastrous for them both. Can either one or the other make a new life for themselves once the war is over? This is a real page-turner, if a little bleak in places. It is very well written. I'll certainly be reading more of Juliet West's work.
May 30, 2014 Maureen rated it really liked it
A debut novel which is based on a true story and set in WW1.
Written mainly in the first person as it tells the story of Hannah and switches to third person as it moves to Daniels's story. Well written apart from the occasional use of slang (ain't etc) which because it was only occasional really grated with me.
Overall it's good but not quite unputdownable, the final few pages being the best of the book.
Sep 11, 2014 Poppy99 rated it really liked it
This is an atmospheric book about WW1, the East End and an affair. The latter and it's repercussions lead to an ending that knocked me for six. Based loosely on a true story, it does not romanticise the time it is set in. It is quite bleak and makes you realise that we are lucky to live in the age that we are in.
Aug 07, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it
A beautifully written love story set against the backdrop of the First World War, a war that has pulled the ground out from beneath Hannah's feet. Throughout, one senses that this is unlikely to end well for anyone involved.

Full review
Apr 18, 2016 Lily rated it really liked it
A wonderfully written book – words are beautiful , nice tightly written story with no loose ends.
Characters were nicely developed.
Story good, nice little page turner, at the start it felt to me like the content/setting was more like the 1970’s rather than 1916.
Oct 26, 2015 Roo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book. The characters are strong and believable and the writing is so beautiful you can feel their feelings and their angst, and the fragility of relationships. The end of the book was unexpected and heartbreaking. This book will stick in my mind for a long time to come
Emma Nugent
Jan 07, 2015 Emma Nugent rated it liked it
I did like this - I met Juliet West at Short Stories Aloud in Oxford and she was awesome. I think she is a fine writer and its a lovely book, I just found the ending a bit difficult. This isn't really a criticism, as it was based on a true story!
Rosie Hughes
Oct 29, 2014 Rosie Hughes rated it really liked it
This was a well written book, with a sense of foreboding throughout. It is even more harrowing knowing it is based on a true story. Society's ability to judge is displayed in its cruellest form. The ending left me reeling.
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