Book Review – The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Nessa, an art curator, wife and mother living in Cork. Although she has forgiven her husband for having an affair with the mother of a friend of their daughter, Nessa is in two minds about her decision to forgive.

The relationship balances on a knife-edge for much of the story as they undergo counselling, while their daughter Jennifer, a Daddy’s girl, blames her mother for not being more assertive and ripping her father a new one.

While all this is going on, Nessa is in charge of curating an exhibition by late Irish artist and cultural powerhouse, Robert Locke. But who is the mysterious woman who’s been lurking round the gallery? And how much influence did she really have over the deceased artist? And how is Nessa to manage all of this with the widow and her funny turns and odd daughter as well as her own secrets spilling to the fore?

A gorgeous work of literary fiction, I absolutely loved this debut novel from Danielle McLaughlin. I’ve heard that people struggle to define literary fiction so I’ll tell you what it means to me (doesn’t mean I’m right): the story doesn’t play second fiddle to the characters, but the thoughts, feelings and instincts of the character play a large part in the action of the piece. In The Art Of Falling we have a wonderful example of how everything might look calm and composed on the outside while everything within is falling apart.

I love this kind of story and the writing was precise, almost musical in nature. The characters were beautifully realised, and I will look forward to reading more from this author in future.

“‘I’m afraid we’re running behind,’ Loretta Locke had said on the doorstep, ‘my mother took a bit of a turn.’ The first time she’d used that phrase ‘a bit of a turn’, Nessa had been alarmed, but it turned out that Loretta used it to mean anything from a mild stroke to a fit of bad temper.”
page 18, Chapter Two, The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin

“Closer up, Nessa saw that his jeans were faded, and he’d paired them with shoes that looked like they belonged to someone else, the kind of shoes a stockbroker might wear to the office. His jacket was baggy at the elbows and shoulders, as if the material had lost some of its substance, and she thought, He hasn’t done so well; Eleanor Locke would have something to say about that jacket.”
page 86, Chapter Ten, The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin

An absolute must.