Richard –Richard is an accountant. Married to Lisa, he is the father of eight year old Hannah and toddler Oscar. He loves his children very much, but… Richard feels claustrophobic – absolutely stifled and trapped by his life. He longs for a quiet life with no children around. He looks out his window at Bill’s house across the street and covets Bill’s life. Richard goes so far as to plan his ‘escape‘, fantasizing about a new life away from England. He dreams of a solitary life in the American midwest. The monotony and suffocation of his family life constantly suffocate him. Torn, he waffles between wanting to escape, and longing to stay for his children.
Bill spends a good part of his day gazing out his front window at the house across the street. A house filled with noise, life, and love – or so he thinks. He secretly wishes for Richard’s life.
At eighty-seven years old, Bill’s life is a quiet and sedentary one. He lives with his beloved wife Rosie, and is the father of two daughters. Victoria, the eldest daughter, disappeared over thirty years ago – never to be heard from again. Both Bill and his wife keep vigil for her return. They never go out at the same time so that there’s always someone home in case Victoria were to return home… Samantha, their youngest, passed away several years ago leaving a grieving husband behind. Samantha’s widower, Kevin, has been a godsend to Bill and his wife. Kevin is attentive to their needs and acts like the son they never had.
The suburban street where Richard and Bill live is under several feet of snow after a recent storm. They are snowed in, and it is just a week before Christmas…
If ever there was a good example of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the street“, it is eloquently depicted in “Drift, Stumble, Fall“. It is human nature to pine for what we don’t have.
Bill and Rosie’s story was one of such deep sadness, while Richard and Lisa seemed not to appreciate each other, to be just ‘going through the motions’.
I have to say, that this is a book about not much at all, but it is written with such empathy and understanding of human nature that being inside Richard’s head proved to be riveting reading.
The whole time I was wondering whether Richard would stay or go. Also, wondering just what would MAKE him stay? what would MAKE him go?
At the end of this powerful little novel I wondered… just how many people around us, who appear to be adjusted and content, are really living lives of quiet desperation?
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from BooksGoSocial via NetGalley.Publication date: April 12, 2018
Publisher: Hideaway Fall – BooksGoSocial
Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author who was born Yorkshire where he still lives today with his second wife, five children, two cats and a dog.
His debut novel, The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012. He has spoken in schools, colleges, prisons and universities about creative writing and storytelling and appeared at various literary festivals including Sheffield’s Off the Shelf and Doncaster’s Turn the Page festival.
His second novel, The Page was released in February 2015.
His much anticipated third novel, A Tiny Feeling of Fear was released in September 2015 and tells the story of a character struggling with mental illness. All profits from this novel are donated to charity to raise awareness of mental health issues.
In 2016, he signed for boutique publishers, Hideaway Fall and his fourth novel Broken Branches was released in July 2017, winning book of the month in Candis magazine for September.
He is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness and writes his own column regularly for the Huffington Post. He has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe. Drift Stumble Fall was released in Spring 2018, while his sixth novel 337 was published in 2020.