I was fortunate enough recently to receive a copy of M. Jonathan Lee’s latest novel ahead of its publication next month. I am familiar with this author’s work having read and enjoyed Broken Branches last year and in Drift Stumble Fall, his fifth novel, we get a glimpse into the lives of two men, one of which is contemplating something very serious…
In this story we meet Richard Brown, a man who from the outside has it all. Married with two children and a caring family, to an outsider he lives a blissful life. However, Richard is tired of this life, and has had enough of his current routine and the responsibilities family life brings. As a result he thinks about getting away from it all, and over the course of the novel we get a glimpse into Richard’s mind, as the days pass by and his frustration continues, as he ponders what life would be like if he was alone. These emotions are also enhanced when Richard observes a neighbour, Bill, who lives across the road. Bill’s existence seems much more tranquil, free from resentment and responsibility. However, everything is not as it seems, and as both men watch one another, it becomes clear that life is much more complex than what can be seen on the surface, and people’s lives aren’t always what they seem.
I was quickly drawn into this story, which was told almost in a diary format, with events taking place over a number of days leading up to Christmas. And over these days we learn more about Richard and his daily life, the mundane tasks and the little interactions with his family. We see Richard struggling to come to terms with his own emotions, the aspects of life that are pushing him away along with those that are drawing him back. His situation is further complicated by the presence of his in-laws, as the harsh winter weather results in the family spending more time together, more time for Richard to contemplate his predicament. I found this story to be well written, and there were aspects to the story that I found relatable. The subject matter is very moving, as we discover the layers of secrets, and long concealed suffering. There is definitely an element of ‘the grass isn’t always greener’ in this novel, as it explores how different people long for different things, and how ultimately we must treasure what we do have in life, and the people we hold dear.
Drift Stumble Fall was an enjoyable read which explores some interesting themes surrounding family relationships, love and loss and moving forward. A thought provoking read which had me gripped and left me with plenty to ponder over. It is to be published on 12th April 2018 by Hideaway Fall, with thanks to Hideaway Fall for providing a copy for review.