Book Review: Fly or Fall by Gilli Allan


Genre: Contemporary Fiction

This was a slow burner of a story. As I began to read it, I reckoned I knew where it was heading. I reckoned I knew the territory the writer was leading me into. This was going to be a tale of English, middle-class, bored and desperate housewives getting up to all sorts.

I was wrong. I should have known better, having read other books by this author. Gilli Allan doesn’t do stereotypes. She’s also always original in her approach to character development. And she’s a clever writer.

Yes, the story begins slowly, but there’s enough detail and intrigue to hook the reader. Yes the characters seem at first to be familiar types, but there are layers of complexity to them and lots to be discovered as the story progresses. The characters are not even particularly likeable at the start, but as you get to know them, you warm to them and soon begin to care what happens to them.

Nell, the main character, is in her early thirties, but boy, has she packed a lot into her three decades including being mother to teenage twins. Fly or Fall sees her life going through upheaval and change and she has the choice of letting it all overwhelm her or of at last making a stand and refusing to be the victim.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the story, the originality of the characters, and the unpredictability of the plot – and the ending was unexpected but satisfying.

Despite everything that happens, this is a life-affirming story. It reminds you that life is what you make it and its obstacles are there to be overcome.

Type of read: Tea and cake to hand, on the sofa, raining outside, cosy inside – and just indulge and enjoy.

Back Cover Blurb: Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined and she’s tempted. Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar? But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone – even her nearest and dearest – has been lying. She’s even deceived herself. The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed. And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she fears it is doomed. The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself?

Fly or Fall is published by Accent Press and is available as a paperback and as an ebook.

The Third Tuesday Review

As I promised/threatened in an earlier post, I intend, on the third Tuesday of every month, to do a book review and also to announce my blog of the month.


My January book is ‘A Book of Silence’ by Sara Maitland. Maitland is an author whose feminist fiction I’ve admired and enjoyed for around thirty years (her novel ‘Women Fly When men Aren’t Watching’ would be one of my desert island volumes). ‘A Book of Silence’ is difficult to categorise, but it’s not fiction. It’s part memoir/autobiography, part travelogue, part reflection on her own writing processes, but is mainly a reflection and discussion of her study of the concept of silence. Silence is something she views as a presence rather than an absence. She sees being in silence as a religious and spiritual experience and as something she longs to have more of.  I don’t completely agree with everything she says, but there’s a lot that resonates and it is beautifully and intelligently written.

I suspect this is a book for writers, especially those fascinated by the writing process. It’s also one for Maitland fans, not least because it has been a while since she published anything.

It’s not a light read. The reader needs to think, concentrate and reflect. I read it on my Kindle but  maybe the old-fashioned paper version would have been better. This is a book to dip in and out of and to flick back and forth in as you read.  It certainly gives the reader a lot to ponder.


My blog of the month is Sleepwell and Fly written by a writer who goes by the name of Fletcher Moss. You can sample it for yourself at Moss is a writer of young adult fiction and his book (of the same title as the blog) is on the longlist for The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2012. His blog is always entertaining and often thought-provoking. There’s humour, honesty, seriousness and insight – often within the one post. It’s a great example of a writer’s blog but will appeal to non-writers who appreciate good writing. Well worth a visit.