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The Rain before it Falls

Book review by Yvonne Reddin

The Rain before it Falls

Author: Jonathan Coe

The Mountains to Sea literary festival is in its second year and took place in Dun Laoghaire in September over a four day period.  Leading writers and speakers including Terry Prone, John Banville, Alex Miller, Jonathan Coe and Garrett Fitzgerald were involved in this popular event.  This is where I came across this book, The Rain before it Falls, after attending a reading by Jonathan Coe.

The Daily Mail describes this book as “A hauntingly melancholy tale of love and loss,” and this sums up this story entirely.  It’s a beautifully written narrative with descriptions of places and people which transport you into the story itself.

This parable tells a story of sadness and tragedy in a haunting way.  The story spans three generations and is sad and poignant and infused with a sense of loss; a loss a mother would relate to.

When Rosamund, the main character, dies suddenly, her niece, Gill, is left with a mystery surrounding a girl called Imogen. Gill listens to recordings left by Rosamund and tries to decipher the secrets that have now come to light. Where is Imogen and can she find her to tell her of Rosamund’s passing and the heartbreaking story left behind? And so begins a diary-style story describing 20 photographs and 20 memories.

Jonathan Coe constructs his story descriptively, intensely and sincerely; a departure from previous novels like What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club and, most recently, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim. The central character, Maxwell, was to be “a product of the social media boom”, and “the sort of person with hundreds of Facebook friends but no one to talk to when his marriage breaks up”.

The Rain before it Falls is less than 300 pages and would be apt to read on a chilly night in by the fire.

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