Sadie Jones

Published by Chatto & Windus 1 May 2014

416pp, hardback, £14.99

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner


Suspension of disbelief is the novelist’s stock in trade and Sadie Jones works extremely hard to persuade readers of her fourth novel to put logic on hold, in a story that defies gravity while delivering an undeniable measure of indulgent satisfaction.

The scenario is the London theatrical world of the 1960s and early 1970s (cue some rather highly-coloured and melodramatic events as well as a range of deliciously nostalgic fashion), a carefully detailed evocation of the era of Equus and Morecambe & Wise, biros and Rolodexes.

Against this cherishable backdrop, Jones presents two poles of womanhood – feisty feminist Leigh and droopy victim Nina. Her hero is Luke, the firebrand playwright, son of an introverted Polish immigrant father and a much loved mother long-incarcerated in a mental hospital. Both Leigh and Nina love Luke in their individual ways, and he loves them back, but differently. What Luke does for love is one of the stretched-credulity aspects of this entirely readable tale, along with what Nina and Leigh, at various stages, do and don’t.

Readers will surely relish a return to Jones-land, where emotions run deep and the storytelling – in notable, award-winning novels such as The Outcast and Small Wars – is grown-up. Yet there are those dangling plausibilities. Really, would they do – or not do – that? Yes, this is a novel about the stage, but even so, its stagey-ness seems something of a misjudgement.

Reader, you are going to have to make your own choices on this one. Although not this author’s finest book, Fallout offers quality entertainment and solid, carefully-crafted tale-spinning. As a recreation of a recent yet simultaneously distant era, it does an absorbing and memorable job. We could – and often do – do a great deal worse.






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