Two neighbours across the street – each trapped in their own world. Each craving for the other’s life – envying the other judging by appearances. One’s shocking truth is revealed to us, the reader. The other’s less shocking but still far-reaching plans… Drift Stumble Fall, the new atmospheric, dark, and captivating novel by M. Jonathan Lee.
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
– Aldous Huxley
“‘I love you,’ she says. Sometimes, I feel she does.” All he craves for is “a new beginning.” This is it – this is the gorge between Richard Brown’s daily life and inner thoughts. He feels stuck in his life with wife Lisa and their two young children. There is no escape from the daily routine, the children screaming and his wife, Lisa, working her way through cookies or whatever she can lay her hands on. If only he would have the life of his neighbour across the street, Bill. elderly, with a wife, no kids. Blissful quietness – you would be able to hear your own thoughts. If only…
The book opens with Richard’s remarks that he “will cease to exist in three days.” As to the how we are yet unaware. But we perceive his restlessness, his ineptitude to cope with life as it is. On the outside, Richard has it all: a loving family, consisting of a wife, Lisa and their two children, Hannah and Oscar, a steady job and an own home. But Richard is screaming inside – he is desperate for change, for quietness and solitude. Something a family with two small children simply cannot provide. When the hall is your favourite place in the house because of the many options it has to offer, how fulfilling is your life? And how much do you long to escape it all? Richard does and every time he sees his neighbour from across the street, Bill, looking out of the window, he just longs for his life.
Bill is an elderly man married to Rosie and Richard is witness to the peacefulness of their life. Every day. Rosie, on the other hand, is worried. Bill seems more distant every day and sometimes, it is hard to reach him. Still, she counts her blessings the moments she has his attention like when he tells her “I’m lucky to have you, girl,” because she feels “exactly the same.” What is it Bill sees when he stares out of the window? Does he envy Richard’s life in the same way Richard does his? If only Richard would know… Little by little, we learn about Bill and Rosie’s past and the tragedy overshadowing everything. It makes seeing Richard desperately trying to escape his life so sad. Whilst Richard’s in-laws overstay their visit out of necessity (the snow makes it impossible to travel) Richard feels exhausted and seeks to find peace even for a while. If only he would know that peace is something Bill and Rosie will never have… would it make him reconsider his plans?
Drift Stumble Fall is atmospheric. dark, emotive and poignant. Reading this novel makes me want to stop and breathe from time to time to avoid being overwhelmed by the sad feelings and dark thoughts. I felt sucked into the black hole of Richard’s thoughts – his desire to escape and disappear. The feeling of being trapped was enhanced by the snowfall forcing life to a standstill and the residents confined to their houses. I found it difficult to fully understand Richard and, although part of me empathised, the other part wanted to shake him and be at least open about what he plans to do. One sentence on page 255 was the decisive moment for me and it determined how I felt about Richard and his longing. It showed me the underlying motive to the plan to escape – and what it was based upon. It is all about the choices and promises we make in life but also about our incapability of objectively regarding our own life.
Those mixed feelings I had about Richard’s decision and motivation show how talented the author is in drawing his readers into the story and into the lives of his characters. His descriptions, even of ordinary daily chores and events, are insightful and make you experience what is happening, especially from Richard’s point of view as this is a first-person narrative interspersed with a third person narrative for Bill and Rosie’s tragic, moving and heartbreaking story which in itself, forms a strong counterpart to Richard’s life. To me, the fascinating aspect of Drift Stumble Fall lies in our perceptions and how deceiving they can be. We easily judge others by appearances and even when we think we base our decisions upon deliberate and well-considered opinions, we do not. Who can perceive how others feel, what life has dealt them and how they cope? Being judgmental is typical human but that does not make it right and this is what the author leaves us thinking about.
About the Author
M. Jonathan Lee (also known as Jonathan Lee) is a nationally shortlisted author who was born in South Yorkshire in 1974. He still lives and works in Yorkshire, England and has three children. The author began writing seriously at the age of 9 at which point he self-published a magazine which ran for six issues and sold more than 500 copies. Since then, he has written a number of short stories and eagerly hoarded away journal after journal of ideas before finally writing The Radio, shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012. He is currently touring schools, colleges, prisons and universities talking about creative writing and storytelling. The Radio continues to receive excellent reviews. His second novel, The Page was released in February 2015. His third novel is A Tiny Feeling of Fear which was released in September 2015. M. Jonathan Lee is a regular commentator on the BBC and works closely with Rethink and Mind Charities to raise awareness of mental health issues.
|Publisher||Hideaway Fall Ltd (12 April 2018)|