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The Rain Before it Falls

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  4,982 ratings  ·  515 reviews
Following "The Rotters' Club "and its sequel, "The Closed Circle, "Jonathan Coe now offers his first stand-alone novel in a decade, a story of three generations of women whose destinies reach from the English countryside in World War II to London, Toronto, and southern France at the turn of the new century.
Evacuated to Shropshire during the Blitz, eight-year-old Rosamond
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published by Viking Books (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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B the BookAddict
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads
Shelves: fiction
The only Jonathan Coe book I had previously read is his wonderful biography of the brilliant, enigmatic and troubled B S Johnson Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson.

A compelling, intricate, multi-layered story of three women and the friendship which haunts another, Coe's novel never falls into the category of chick-lit; it tells of a mystery and the paradox of love and friendship. A novel which can be appreciated by readers of many genres and all sexes. It is difficult to review so
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Annet
This is a hidden gem. Published in 2008, and why haven't I heard from this author til now? Picked this up from a The Hague bookshop from the shelves the staff pick (usually very good) only two weeks ago. Loved this one, beautiful story, beautiful writing...it's a 'slow story', it needs time to sink in, but at the same time a very easy read that keeps you going, wondering about what's going to happen next. "The Rain before it falls is the story of 3 generations of one family struck by tragedy. ...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I especially liked the vehicle used to tell this story: A maiden aunt dies and her niece is the only relative left to handle the estate details. She discovers cassette tapes and family pictures beside the chair in which she died. Aunt Rosamond had left a narrative explaining the pictures for a mystery girl named Imogen, which also explained a lot of unresolved family mysteries and questions. To say that it was complicated would be an understatement.

Jonathan Coe manages to tell the story of 60
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Ines
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Terrible, excuse me, but this is one of the ugliest books I’ve read this year...
a pedantic narrative and brainy, we find a maze of interlocking characters that lead the reader to no longer understand anything.
I am amazed by this desire from the author to tell a story starting from the "Greek calends", strange ideas and characters, I’m sorry to say, but slimy and amoral.
But so far, patience you will say, many books have these kind of characters in their plot... but when I see inconsistencies in
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Laura
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Katie Lumsden
4.5 stars. This author deserves more attention. This was an amazing exploration of a family through several generations of women. I have a feeling that no review I write is likely to do it justice.

We begin with a husband and wife doing yard work. The wife answers the phone and learns her aunt has just passed away. As the executrix, she is responsible for winding up the estate, and so she goes to her aunt's house to begin that process.

While there, she finds some things the aunt left behind, and
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Stephen Durrant
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this novel, "The Rain Before It Falls," is a metaphor for those things that exist just beyond our experience, patterns that elude us, meanings we can't yet grasp. Coe uses as narrator the voice of a woman, Rosamond, describing twenty family photos into a tape recorder, before she takes pills and ends her life. Rosamond tells the story of four women, mothers and daughters, and the tragedy that silently passes from one to another. This melancholy book powerfully traces the way ghosts ...more
Chris_P
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every once in a while, you come across a book which, although far from being a masterpiece, finds its way into you, where you know right away it will stay for a very long time if not forever. One such book is The Rain Before It Falls.

The ability of Jonathan Coe to weave haunting stories is by no means news to me, since this is the fifth novel I've read by the English author. However, while I found The House of Sleep, What A Carve Up and The Rotters' club near perfect and The Privacy Of Maxwell
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Nette
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Powerpoint fans
Good writer, intriguing plot, lame concept: an old lady talks into a tape recorder while LOOKING AT PICTURES. Each chapter, another picture. "Here is a house. It is a very beautiful house, and there is a tree in the yard. Is that a car under the tree? Why yes, I believe it is." Look, I have to sit through endless Powerpoint presentations at work, I don't need the experience re-created in a novel.

Brian
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written book takes the form of an oral narrative, recorded on a set of cassettes discovered beside the body of Rosamund, an elderly woman who has killed herself rather than let cancer do the job for her. It's the story of Rosamund's entanglement with her cousin Beatrix, a thoroughly self-centred and manipulative individual,and several generations of Beatrix's family.

As Rosamund's niece, Gill, listens to the tapes, she learns of the emotional disaster area that was Beatrix's
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Georg
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
Difficult to rate and review. In the end I was a little bit disappointed. Big mysteries are announced but eventually not revealed. A lot of characters appear on the show and I recommand a written diagram for all the daughters, grand-daughters, uncles and aunts from several generations and decades. Though I did not quite understand for what purpose Coe made it as complicated as he did. He could have dropped at least 50 % of his staff without spoiling the plot. But maybe this is not a solid ...more
Canadian
When her elderly aunt dies, Gill learns that Rosamond made several audio tapes that are to be delivered to a young relative, who also happens to be one of the three heirs to the old woman’s estate. Gill doesn't actually know how Aunt Rosamond is connected with “Imogen”, whom Gill met years ago at her aunt’s fiftieth birthday party. Gill was then pregnant with her first daughter, and Imogen was only a child. Blinded at the age of three, the little girl was by that time not living with her birth ...more
doreen
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Incredibly beautiful and melancholy, which seems to be quite the undercurrent in Jonathan Coe's books that I've read. I devoured this book in the course of a few days, and it was well-worth it.

The book is about a family tragedy carried down through generations, and the woman who was connected to the family, much to the effect of the events haunting her deeply later.

Jonathan Coe is adept at telling human dramas that could easily seem quaint with another writer, but he makes it into beauty. The
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Robert
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Eight books in and I haven’t gotten bored of my Jonathan Coe marathon. If anything, I’m my respect for him as an author has increased. The Rain Before it Falls has got to be one of his more interesting novels.

The main premise for this book is how a series of pictures can tell a life story. Not only that Coe takes the plot to another level because the pictures themselves cannot be seen. Sounds confusing?

Gill finds her aunt Rosamond dead and when examining her house she discovers four cassette
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Rachel
Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it
After a bit of a dry spell I treated myself to this book after 'discovering' Coe only earlier this year. I adored what a carve up, and really enjoyed House of sleep. His nack for revealing plot with suspense, his character building and the way he can get away with frankly ludicrous plot lines all add up to a great read. This is a very different fish, however...

There are a few glimmers of Jonathan Coe here, but overall it feels like a book written by A.N.Other. If you covered the author name i'd
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Maureen
I liked this better than The Closed Circle and The Rotters Club, but not as much as What a Carve Up, Like a Fiery Elephant or the The House of Sleep.

Perhaps because I've read so much Jonathan Coe at this stage, I'm overly familiar and never engaged with the characters as being anything other than his latest fictional inventions. For what was a very sad story, I never got weepy.

But I thought the central theme - misery being handed down the generations, deepening like a coastal shelf - was
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Daenerys
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a quick an easy read. While there are some beautiful passages which show Coe's ability to evoke his characters' feelings, the parts of the book that are supposedly related by the narrator feel artificial and somewhat forced, and in many cases revelations that were supposed to be shocking left me indifferent. It's an okay book, but not unforgettable.
Margot
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, lgbtq
The story of a tragic family history, charmingly told by Jonathan Coe. It’s deceptively simple at times, and the ending packs quite a punch, though Coe never veers into melodrama. Would recommend to people who like meandering stories about mothers and daughters.
Hiroto
I can now say I have at least read one J.Coe book ! This one was chosen to me by one of my new coworkers, she adores this story. I can see why, and even thought it is not my cup of tea, I totally get why she was floored by this one.
This is the kind of book you'll love to discuss in book clubs : family secrets, originality of the narration, 3d characters.

It just didn't do it for emotionnaly (i am known for my hard-as-f heart after all).
Ali
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an enormously readable novel from the author of The Rotters Club, The House of Sleep and and What a carve up! I have read each of those three novel and was left fairly cold by the first, and loved the second two - this one I also thoroughly enjoyed. I read it in no time, as it's not very big and is pretty hard to put down.

The story is told in the voice of Rosamund as she prepares to die - wishing to tell her distant lost relation Imogen about her family and how she came into being.
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Sera
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book is like a sentimental journey. The stories of four women are narrated with the secrets of old photographs. We become witnesses on how cruel and devastating the families can be. The narrator is the old woman Rosamond has inevitably become my favorite character. I wish we could also have read Imogen, the blind girl’s point-of-view.

I loved the language and the way the author Jonathan Coe depicts the photographs and sceneries. I will definitely consider reading the House of Sleep as well.
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Emily
Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book randomly, just because I liked the title. It is a story of an old lady at the end of her life, narrating her memories for a family member by going through significant photographs. There were interesting parts, but I grew tired of the framework and the predictable plot developments. It just felt like it dragged on way too long and had some strange, extraneous scenes, like a flute recital and a breakup of a tertiary relationship which had no real bearing on the main story.
Els
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember having to read Jonathan Coe's What a Carve Up for a course about postmodernism. It was one of my favourite books on the reading list and whilst reading The Rain Before it Falls I noticed Coe using the same techniques my professor talked about. I'm so happy I read this one after taking the course because I took much more from the book than I would have otherwise and still genuinely enjoyed the story. Definitely picking up more of his books!
Kimberly
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Slogged through this. Really dull, very trite set-up. Expected some big drama or reveal, but thoroughly disappointed. Don't bother
Nick Davies
May 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, book-group
Somewhere between a two and a three for this novel - this month's choice for the book group I am a member of - reflecting that it wasn't necessarily a bad novel, just one which wasn't really my kind of thing (and which I was hence starting to find more and more fault with, the longer I read it).

The story is a family drama, and takes the format of a woman relating her family history on cassette tape before her death. Before we even get to any criticism of the narrative (what little there was -
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Tim
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
My review of this wonderful book:



The Rain Before It Falls
By Jonathan Coe (Knopf, 256 pages, $23.95)

From its cryptically beautiful title to its subtly riveting narrative, from its amazing narrative voice to its satisfying and moving conclusion, this new novel from Jonathan Coe—his eighth—is a triumph. The Rain Before It Falls starts as a kind of autobiography of Rosamond, not written but recorded on an aging cassette recorder, in the days before her suicide (suffering from cancer, she opts to
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Nataliec7
The first book by Jonathan Coe that I've read and 'Wow' was I impressed. I had no real idea of what to expect even though I'd read the back of the book.
Rosamond tells us her story, as well as the story of others -her family etc. The story is recorded on tapes which are found or essentially 'left' post Rosamond's death. The tapes are meant for a girl called Imogen. Her niece Gill who is in charge of her estate essentially has to find this girl but after searching for sometime with no luck, she
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Susy
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars
It just didn’t work for me... Aunt Rosamund leaves a couple of tapes, telling her history, her niece/blood sister Beatrix’s and Imogen’s using photographs which she describes in detail. Reading it however I don’t hear Rosamund’s voice but the writer’s. I just don’t feel that the words used are hers, it’s the writer telling a story, they’re HIS words. I don’t know if this is the reason why, but I just didn’t feel any connection to or sympathy for the characters, Rosamund in particular
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Jim Puskas
Jan 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Well! I worked my way through it.
Yes, a well written book, constructed in an innovative way (a monologue commenting on a series of family photographs). And certainly an unusual family. Mr. Coe is a skillful writer.
But, for heaven's sake, what an endlessly bleak, depressing story is told! Worse, the characters range from bland and ineffectual to vicious and despicable.
How can anyone possibly derive any satisfaction from such a narrative?
I'm afraid this one will end up in the same category as
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Joanna
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: numerous people
Gosh, so interesting, such a strong bluesy mood to it, even if a bit slight as indeed the critics complain. But just so beautifully sustained and with such a cool feeling of the experimental about it--I wonder if Coe is feeling more experimental these days since his biography of B.S. Johnson? Anyhow, I read in a Guardian review that Coe took his inspiration from the novels of Rosamond Lehmann--which makes me want to go back and read Lehmann all over again (ahh, Dusty Answer). I found myself ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Oct 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: british, 2010
Jonathan Coe gets really lyrical all through this book.

Well, perhaps the choice of having a monologue for so many pages is not the best, but it works somehow.
The same fact it's a voice recorded on tape speaking would have made it potentially hard to stand, but I enjoyed and really appreciated the way Coe made it.
This is a voice coming from and talking about the past. Rosamund's voice illustrates photos to a distant listener, but what it really does is actually knitting a whole ball of thread
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up!
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“I like the rain before it falls. of course there is no such thing, she said. That's why it's my favorite. Something can still make you happy, can't it, even if it isn't real.” 51 likes
“I don't mind summer rain. In fact I like it. It's my favourite sort.' 'Your favourite sort of rain?' said Thea. I remember that she was frowning, and pondering these words, and then she announced: 'Well, I like the rain before it falls.” 10 likes
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