Fallout by Sadie Jones. Publisher: Harper (April 2014). Historical fiction. Hardcover. 416 pages. ISBN: 9780062292810.
This book. I fell in love with its characters and its premise immediately. A group of 20-somethings entangled in love affairs and the London theatre during the 1970s.
Fallout revolves around Luke Kanowski, a young man with a mother living in a mental institution and a a former Polish POW father who remained in England after the war. Both parents rely tremendously on Luke. Living in a rustic northern town, Luke escapes the familial strain and dead-end choices through a passion for theatre. He reads everything and remains updated on all theatrical goings on. One night he meets aspiring producer Paul Driscoll and theater student Leigh Radley who will influence his future in myriad ways.
Years later Luke decides to move to London to escape provincialism and pursue his dreams. Luke becomes housemates with Leigh and Paul. Leigh sustains an unrequited attraction for Luke but ends up settling with Paul. Working as a stage manager, Leigh manages to earn the most consistent income. Eventually the trio forms a theatre company where Luke falls for the dazzling married Nina Jacobs. She’s married to influential and manipulative producer Tony Moore. Luke and Nina start an affair but she’s reluctant to leave Tony despite his abusive nature.
When their theatre company fails, Luke moves out to his own place and one of his plays garners attention and a bidding war. He’s so attached to Nina that he wants her to star in it although she doesn’t possess the talent required for the role. Paul starts a new production company with a woman from New York. Drama ensues for everyone. Whether you know a ton about the theater or are an occasional theater-goer Fallout proves a fascinating read. Author Sadie Jones describes the challenges, the competiveness, the fleeting nature, insecurities and exhilarations for those involved.
Jones uses colorful imageries to craft this spectacular novel that captures the mindset and challenges these young men and women face. You’re taken into the wings, the dressing rooms, behind the sets and into the production stages—writing, directing and producing a play. Jones creates realistic and complex relationships these four people manage while navigating the competitive theatrical world. It’s a charming, clever novel in which you’ll become immensely engulfed.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.