Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall Girl – Toni Jordan

Toni Jordan’s first novel, Addition, was nothing but brilliant and remains one of my favourite books. So obviously when I saw this in the library I was going to get it out. This book is not Addition, and so it was inevitable that I would find it disappointing.

I also struggled with the subject matter. The story is about Ella, a girl who is brought up in a family of con-artists (I was going to say con-men, but since several of them are women I needed a more inclusive term). That it’s their family background, that they see themselves as artists is interesting, as is the fact that Ella’s dad, the patriarch of the extended family very much sees their work as wealth redistribution in the style of Robin Hood. But while that may not particularly leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, I still didn’t find it particularly interesting or attractive.

It’s well-written though and the characters are interesting at least, particularly Daniel, the proposed “mark”. And then suddenly, on page 112, with one little throw-away sentence in the middle of a paragraph, the story gets interesting.

This was never going to live up to Addition, and given the subject it’s not what I would have read if it were written by another author. I felt there were more than a few loose ends that could have been tightened up too (I suspect this is because I’m obsessive about such things, not because the story really needs it). If I’m going to be picky, too, I found the motivation behind Daniel’s interest in Ella a little underdeveloped / underexplained, although that’s an inevitable struggle in the poor-girl-wows-rich-guy thread of romantic fiction and at least Daniel feels like a real person in other respects.

But I did like the ending, which actually has a lot of parallels with the last book I read, Signs and Wonders. This isn’t a Christian book, Ella finds love rather than God, but still there is an element of penitence and redemption.

Looking forwards to her next book.

Addendum: I just spotted this great line in the acknowledgements: ‘My own zoological studies … were so long ago that we studied dinosaurs with live examples.’


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