Bree T's Reviews > Free-Falling

Free-Falling by Nicola Moriarty
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Feb 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: arc, australian, aww2012, romance, women-s-fiction
Read from February 25 to 26, 2012 — I own a copy

Belinda is reeling after losing her fiance Andy in a terrible event. She’s left alone to pick up the pieces of her life without him, struggling to move on. At only 24, they had their whole lives stretching ahead of them and now their future together has vanished. Belinda finds herself starting to spot little signs that maybe Andy isn’t entirely… gone. She seems them everywhere, believing that he’s sticking around to give her a little help. And soon she’s about to discover that Andy may have given her the most amazing parting gift of all.

Evelyn is Andy’s mother, who is struggling to cope with the loss of her golden boy. Needing someone to blame, she launches into Belinda, hating her privately and denouncing her publicly. A dignified, straight-laced sort of woman, she finds herself shoplifting and taking up skydiving as ways to deal with her grief. To her surprise, she makes a friend in ‘Baz’, her sky-diving instructor who couldn’t be more different from her. Not the sort of person Evelyn would normally associate with, she finds that she can confide in Bazza and she enjoys his frank comments and attitude to life, even if he does insist on being called such a ridiculous nickname.

Belinda and Evelyn, linked by their overwhelming grief at the loss of a man they both adored but yet divided because of the sheer overwhelming pressure of it. Can they ever find a way to reconcile and come together in order to look towards their future?

Free-Falling is the first novel from Nicola Moriarty, sister to already well known Australian novelists Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty. I’ve read books by both Liane and Jaclyn and jumped at the opportunity to read and review Free-Falling and also interview Nicola. I had some expectations going into Free-Falling and I’m happy to say this book lived up to every one of them.

Split into three narratives, this novel is beautifully written in that over the course of the time it took me to read it, I giggled, I cried (more than once) and I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting, totally immersing myself in the lives of Belinda, Evelyn and Bazza. Andy’s death is a tragedy, he’s so young and it’s an utterly senseless and unnecessary way in which he dies. We learn about him and Belinda as a couple in flashbacks, memories and thoughts she has of their time together.After he is gone, she stays in their apartment, surrounded by these memories, using them as a blanket. She drinks too much, she doesn’t always take care of herself whilst she is moving through the stage of crushing grief. By the time she gets some startling news, she has not a lot of time to prepare for it but the way in which she copes with this little gift shows her strength of character.

Evelyn is difficult to like at first, which is I’m sure, the aim. She’s cold, unforgiving and what she does to Belinda is so terrible it makes you want to jump into the book and slap her! But she’s a grieving mother too, having already lost her husband she has now lost one of her sons as well. She funnels her grief into jumping out of planes, an endeavor that leads her to meet Bazza, a young and experienced sky diver with whom she strikes up a very unlikely deep friendship. Some of the scenes between Evelyn and Bazza were the highlights of the novel for me – watching them connect and seeing Evelyn relax a little of her icy exterior and start to open up to Bazza was a lovely experience. I really enjoyed watching Evelyn become changed, little by little, through her association with Bazza, who provided a sympathetic ear and was someone that knew nothing about her, didn’t judge and didn’t coddle her either.

I have to admit I was a little wary of the story line where Belinda believes that Andy is hanging around, due to such things as mysterious flowers turning up on her doorstep, her shopping being brought upstairs to her apartment one day from her car, because those types of things rarely register as believable for me! I can understand it – if I lost my fiance/husband/etc in the tragic way in which Belinda did, I would cling to any hope that he was still around, in any capacity. But I’m quite a skeptic from way back so I was happy that I really enjoyed the way in which this story unfolded and although it wasn’t entirely hard to guess what was happening, the way the three narratives (Belinda’s, Evelyn’s and Bazza’s) all married up and presented events from different points of view was very well done.

Free-Falling is such a lovely novel, even though it’s based around a tragic and sad event, there’s a lot of warmth, humour and hope within it too. It’s the kind of story you can get lost in, where you end up caring for all the characters (yep, even Evelyn!) and become invested in their lives and you find yourself mapping out their futures in your head. A highly impressive debut and I can’t wait for her next novel.

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