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The Rain Before It Falls

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The Rain Before It Falls Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 forged a bond with her cousin Beatrix that augured the most treasured and devastating moments of her life. She recorded these memories sixty years later, just before her death, on cassettes she bequeathed to a woman she hadn't seen in decades. When her beloved niece, Gill, plays the tapes in hopes of locating this unwitting heir, she instead hears a family saga swathed in promise and betrayal: the story of how Beatrix, starved of her mother's affection, conceived a fraught bloodline that culminated in heart-stopping tragedy — its chief victim being her own granddaughter. And as Rosamond explores the ties that bound these generations together and shaped her experience all along, Gill grows increasingly haunted by how profoundly her own recollections — not to mention the love she feels for her grown daughters, listening alongside her — are linked to generations of women she never knew.

A stirring, masterful portrait of motherhood and family secrets, The Rain Before It Falls is also a meditation on the tapestries we weave out of the past, whether transcendent or horrific. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times for his "sustained, intricate brilliance," Jonathan Coe once again proves himself "an artist of character and of his characters' stories," here more astutely than ever before.

Review:

"In the latest from acclaimed London novelist Coe (The Rotter's Club), the story of two cousins' friendship is keyed to a hatred that is handed down from mother to daughter across generations, as in a Greek tragedy. Evacuated from London to her aunt and uncle's Shropshire farm, Rosamond bonds with her older cousin, Beatrix, who is emotionally abused by her mother. Beatrix grows up to abuse her daughter, Thea (in one unforgettable scene, Beatrix takes a knife and flies after Thea after Thea has ruined a blouse), with repercussions that reach the next generation. All of this is narrated in retrospect by an elderly Rosamond into a tape recorder: she is recording the family's history for Imogene, Beatrix's granddaughter, who is blind, and whom Rosamond hasn't seen in 20 years. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Rosamond's fundamental flaw and limit is her decency, a quality Coe weaves beautifully into the Shropshire and London settings — along with violence. Through relatively narrow lives on a narrow isle, Coe articulates a fierce, emotional current whose sweep catches the reader and doesn't let go until the very end." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Coe is a dexterous writer who easily pulls you into Rosamund's spellbinding story. Rosamund's narrative is laced with dark hints of tragedy, and like Gill, you find yourself racing to the end." Seattle Times

Review:

"Like all of the author's previous seven novels, The Rain Before It Falls presents the reader with characters whose impassioned selfishness is as disturbing as it is bleak....The result is his tensest and most affecting work." The Boston Globe

Review:

"Coe is masterful at women's voices, and mining the richness of a marginal life. His single misstep is a chapter, in italics, inside the head of Imogene's mother — a breach in his lovely structure and satisfying tale, suited perfectly to a late afternoon in winter." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"A triumph...from its cryptically beautiful title to its subtly riveting narrative, from its amazing narrative voice to its satisfying and moving conclusion." The San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Dignified and sure....Skillfully layered and plotted." The Atlantic Monthly

Review:

"[A] peculiar book, to put it kindly; it is itself a failure, in more brutal terms. It's peculiar because it's hard to understand why Coe, an accomplished novelist, did (it seems) everything in his power to distance his readers from the characters and situations he wishes to portray." Erica Wagner, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The novel's frame...is neither far-fetched nor especially new...but here it lends itself to an efflorescence of description and explanation that overwhelms Coe's spare, precise prose." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

Following The Rotters' Club and its sequel, The Closed Circle, 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 France at the turn of the new century.

About the Author

Jonathan Coe's awards include the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Prix Médicis Étranger, and, for The Rotters' Club, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. He lives in London with his wife and their two daughters.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Bookwomyn, July 9, 2008 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
I liked this book very much - looked forward to bedtime each evening so that I could read my chapters. It is written in a unique fashion and one needs to pay attention and remind one's self of who's who frequently - there are lots of characters and at least I had evenings when I had to page back to refresh myself on the relationships. Having said that though, it was a very good book. I like Coe and appreciate his work.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
mgreiner1, April 7, 2008 (view all comments by mgreiner1)
Wow! What an enchanting, yet difficult story. Coe's device, of telling the story by describing the background of 20 pictures, was a new one for me, and kept me wondering, "What will the next picture reveal about Rosamund and the people in her life?" This is my first Coe novel, and I plan to read another one soon.
Hard to put down, and definitely worth reading!
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(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307268037
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Coe, Jonathan
Subject:
England
Subject:
Reminiscing in old age.
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
American
Publication Date:
March 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.50x6.06x.98 in. .98 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Rain Before It Falls
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 256 pages Random House - English 9780307268037 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the latest from acclaimed London novelist Coe (The Rotter's Club), the story of two cousins' friendship is keyed to a hatred that is handed down from mother to daughter across generations, as in a Greek tragedy. Evacuated from London to her aunt and uncle's Shropshire farm, Rosamond bonds with her older cousin, Beatrix, who is emotionally abused by her mother. Beatrix grows up to abuse her daughter, Thea (in one unforgettable scene, Beatrix takes a knife and flies after Thea after Thea has ruined a blouse), with repercussions that reach the next generation. All of this is narrated in retrospect by an elderly Rosamond into a tape recorder: she is recording the family's history for Imogene, Beatrix's granddaughter, who is blind, and whom Rosamond hasn't seen in 20 years. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Rosamond's fundamental flaw and limit is her decency, a quality Coe weaves beautifully into the Shropshire and London settings — along with violence. Through relatively narrow lives on a narrow isle, Coe articulates a fierce, emotional current whose sweep catches the reader and doesn't let go until the very end." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Coe is a dexterous writer who easily pulls you into Rosamund's spellbinding story. Rosamund's narrative is laced with dark hints of tragedy, and like Gill, you find yourself racing to the end."
"Review" by , "Like all of the author's previous seven novels, The Rain Before It Falls presents the reader with characters whose impassioned selfishness is as disturbing as it is bleak....The result is his tensest and most affecting work."
"Review" by , "Coe is masterful at women's voices, and mining the richness of a marginal life. His single misstep is a chapter, in italics, inside the head of Imogene's mother — a breach in his lovely structure and satisfying tale, suited perfectly to a late afternoon in winter."
"Review" by , "A triumph...from its cryptically beautiful title to its subtly riveting narrative, from its amazing narrative voice to its satisfying and moving conclusion."
"Review" by , "Dignified and sure....Skillfully layered and plotted."
"Review" by , "[A] peculiar book, to put it kindly; it is itself a failure, in more brutal terms. It's peculiar because it's hard to understand why Coe, an accomplished novelist, did (it seems) everything in his power to distance his readers from the characters and situations he wishes to portray."
"Review" by , "The novel's frame...is neither far-fetched nor especially new...but here it lends itself to an efflorescence of description and explanation that overwhelms Coe's spare, precise prose."
"Synopsis" by , Following The Rotters' Club and its sequel, The Closed Circle, 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 France at the turn of the new century.
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