Monday 13 December 2021

Fall by West Camel BLOG TOUR #Fall @west_camel @OrendaBooks #BookReview #WhatDoYouRemember #Deptford


Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.

But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that shattered their lives, and changed everything forever…

Grim, evocative and exquisitely rendered, Fall is a story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave – a triumph of a novel that will affect you long after the final page has been turned.

Illustrations by David F. Ross

Fall by West Camel was published in paperback by Orenda Books on 9 December 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

Last year, I read Attend by West Camel and was totally and utterly transfixed by the beauty of the story and the writing, you can read my review of Attend here
I really did wonder how this author would follow Attend, how could he write anything quite so special? Well, I don't really know how he does it, but he has. Fall is another beautifully written story that at times took my breath away. It's an exquisite piece of literature, populated with characters who will totally take over your day, in a setting that often feels quite magical, despite the grey concrete and often dismal surroundings of the housing estate that is central to the plot. 

Once more, as with his first book Attend, West Camel takes his readers to the heart of Deptford in London. This is not a well-known literary setting, but this author gives the place a heart and a soul, and it becomes the central character within the story. 

The story spans four decades, as we met eighteen-year-old twins Aaron and Clive. They live with their mother Zoe in a tower block on a Deptford estate. These are not your ordinary council tenants though, Zoe Goldsworthy is the architect of the the estate and has chosen to live there with her family, to prove that this is real community housing, suitable for all. As much as Zoe would like to feel that the family are just the same as the other residents, they do stand out. Everyone knows that Zoe designed the estate. 

When the boys meet Annette and Christine it is inevitable that they will be drawn to them. Another set of identical twins, albeit a few years older than them and also black. There are very few black people in the area and it's 1976.  Racism is rife and whilst the local residents do engage with the girls, their throwaway comments and behaviours are judgemental and ignorant. Zoe herself, surprisingly, advises her sons not to hang around with the women either. 

Meanwhile, forty five years later, the estate is set for demolition. Aaron and Clive have not spoken for decades. Aaron continues to live in the crumbling tower block that the family called home, whilst Clive looks over from his high rise office, his plans to demolish and redevelop the area thwarted by Aaron's refusal to move. Aaron always thought that he was the only resident left in the tower, and then he hears voices and footsteps, he realises that there are other residents, and when he finds out that Annette and Christine are back, he is perplexed. As is Clive.

There's an almost dreamlike quality to the 1970s story, as the two boys experience parties and community living properly for the first time and gradually and slowly realise that Zoe has not been entirely truthful about their family, for many years. 

It's almost impossible to write more about this unusual but extremely compelling story without giving too much away. It's safe to say that it's an utter delight to read and that the author takes many social injustices and brings them to the forefront. It is not just about the wider community though, it is a wonderfully executed study into family relationships; those of siblings and of parents and of controlling behaviours. 

There are reveals that are heartbreaking at times and the slow and steady destruction of a family is skilfully handled, with an empathy and understanding that is so brilliantly structured. 
Such an accomplished novel, so rich and intricate. West Camel is an author who uses words like an instrument, creating a symphony that will thrill any reader. 

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West
Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. 

He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. 

He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. 

He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. 
Attend, his first novel was shortlisted for the Polari prize.

Twitter @west_camel

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