Title: Drift Stumble Fall
Author: M Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richards existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.
Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bills world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richards bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other peoples lives are not always what they seem.
Wow – this is such a beautifully written, powerful novel which, though not action-packed, really made me feel like I was inside the head of someone feeling so trapped and unhappy. It really spoke to me, and I feel that this is such an important book to read.
Though ultimately about two men who seem to think each other’s lives are somehow better than their own, the novel explores so much more than that, and you really need to read this novel to fully appreciate it.
M Jonathan Lee creates completely convincing characters who also aren’t black and white, good or bad… Lisa and Richard both have their faults, and despite being inside Richard’s head we can see he isn’t perfect, and his wife Lisa isn’t always in the wrong (but let’s face it, she’s really not a likable character!)
I feel that, though this book is in essence just about everyday life, both as Richard, a father feeling trapped by responsibility and regular routines, and Bill, a man who is struggling with loss and ‘not knowing’ – in one of the most difficult ways.
Richard wants escape so badly, I can almost feel it with him, and this creates an effectively claustrophobic feeling in Drift Stumble Fall. Similarly, though we see less of Bill, we get a glimpse of what life is like without closure and I felt so much for him and wife Rosie.
I didn’t expect to be drawn in so much, but Drift Stumble Fall completely captured my attention and my heart. I really enjoyed Broken Branches but this novel is, to me, even better. Though it’s bleak at times, it’s incredibly powerful at creating a feeling of empathy, and is a novel I’ve continued to think about long after finishing.