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Before the Fall

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  250 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
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. She has sacrificed so much for a husband who left her behind, a husband who never come home. Then, when she meets David - thoughtful, intelligent, quietly captivating - Hannah find herself faced with the most dangerous o ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published 2014 by Pan Books
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Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 cul ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 fee ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'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
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jayne Charles
I enjoyed - whilst not being entirely blown away by - this novel of WWI in the East End. It taught me that bombing took place on the British mainland during that war - I had previously thought it all took place down a trench in Belgium, so I have learned something and that's always good. Interesting too was the incidental information about fashion and make-up during a time of "make do and mend". In the story, the central characters face a dilemma which develops gradually to a crescendo very clos ...more
Hannah’s husband has gone to war leaving her with their two children. She’s not happy when she has to move in with her mother, sister, and brother-in-law. Hoping to earn some extra money, Hannah takes a job at a café where she meets Daniel Blake. Working as a ship worker exempts him from war, which isn’t to everyone’s liking.

I had read a lot of good reviews about this and I had high hopes for this one. It wasn’t bad but not as good as I wanted it to be. I didn’t quite connect with any of the cha
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: simple-reads
When I first started to read I was quite intrigue to know on what the story was all about, even thou in a way it didn't leave much to the imagination. The main character Hannah pissed me off sometimes, for her way of thinking and choices, but evaluating the time and space the storiy is set, I, in a way can understand.
Hannah who is not so happy with her life, who loves her children and family, although she's not that close to her sister Jen, her husband that went to the war and she who decides to
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book over a very long period of time, just because I was busy with little reading time, but it was such a great book to get right back into each time. I really enjoyed the description of war torn WW1 Britain and how it affected those left behind and the poverty endured at the same time. The thoughts about women of that day are very carefully depicted and I really feel I know a lot more about how my grandparents felt during that time and how they must have felt both losing brothers in ...more
Anne Millen
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book broke my heart. Perhaps it is just too close to the world of my father, whose personal tragedies were linked to his service in the AIF and who spent time in London in the era in which this book was set, and from listening to him I was able to picture the setting very easily. But more likely it is that it is a very well written story, involving, thought-provoking, and unpredictable even though it is based on real lives. Definitely worth reading!
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this more than I expected to. However, I'm aware the end was meant to be a surprising twist, but I felt the build up to it and it's explanation was lacking slightly. Though, a good read overall with interesting characters and a very upsetting (and likely realistic to the time) family dynamic.
Mike Jones
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a great book. Tragic, gripping.... I am so glad she tempered the tragic ending slightly.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short sweet book, almost had me in tears.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Durba Roy Kini
Set in London against the backdrop of the war, I found this book in the quick pick section. For starters the story is inspired by the famous Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy and the author makes no bones about it. On the contrary the inspiration (Jude the Obscure) receives a mention more than once.
The story line combines some of the societal challenges against the backdrop of a politically restrictive environment. There is ugliness and beauty, rationality and inconsistency all at once.
Most imp
May 29, 2014 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 caf ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Katie Mcsweeney
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Perri Oldfield
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
Fleur Smithwick
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
Sarah Jasmon
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 25, 2014 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
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