Friday, March 19, 2010

Stone's Fall - Iain Pears



Stone's Fall has been high on my list to read for some time, after an overwhelmingly positive five-star review from Jackie at Farm Lane Books. If you know Jackie, she doesn't hand out these types of reviews often, so when she does, I stand up and take notice. I put the book on my wish list, and lo and behold, my Secret Santa, Trisha at Eclectic/Eccentric, bought it for me this Christmas! I promptly put the book on my TBR Challenge list.

Despite Jackie's excellent review of this book, I still was not quite prepared for the enormity or the impact of this story.

The basic premise of the book revolves around a highly successful businessman, John Stone, who has tripped and fallen out of a window in his home and died tragically in turn-of-the-century London. His young widow hires a journalist (one completely inept in all things financial and our narrator in Part 1) to track down a unidentified child of Stone's who was bequeathed a large sum of money in his will. Stone is a shadowy, enigmatic figure; it is hard to pin him down. The more the journalist digs into Stone's complex world of bonds, buyouts, espionage and secrets, the more we all discover that there is more to Stone than meets the eye. The stage has been set with an intriguing cast of characters that surrounded Stone in life. An ambitious hooker. A British spy. A widow with a past. A fortune-teller. Colorful folks.

Part 2 and 3 of the novel progressively steps back in time, narrated by an associate of Stone's, and then finally Stone himself. Stone's history is revealed, peeled back layer by layer, as well as the history of his wife, his colleagues, and events that made Stone the man he is. Character development is intricately established; it is complex and thorough, in the form of 600 pages that cannot be quickly consumed.

Granted, I was reading this book while being distracted by bathroom renovations, book fair preparations, and the kids' busy schedules. But I questioned whether all those pages were necessary. Until I got to the end.

The only comparison I could come up with was this. Imagine you are hanging out with I.M. Pei while he is slinging together a bar of steel, and pane of glass, some bricks and stuff. Detailed work. He is talented for sure, a master, and fun to watch, but what is he really up to? Your mind wanders. Then you look up, and voila! The Pyramide du Louvre.

At it's heart, this is a classic mystery, with a completely unexpected, satisfying twist at the end. Jackie compared it to Fingersmith, and I wouldn't disagree. As with the I.M. Pei analogy, I look back on the reading experience, and wish I would have paid closer attention to details, with my new found knowledge gained at book's end. It begs for a re-read. It begs to have its praises sung. Read it now.

5 out of 5 stars







25 comments:

Melody said...

Your and Jackie's reviews have definitely piqued my curiosity!! Sounds like a great mystery read to me. Will have to check it out.

Nymeth said...

Turn of the century London? Compared to Fingersmith? Say no more! Also, I love that it goes backwards rather than forwards in time. When done well, that kind of structure can be amazing.

Andreea said...

Wow, now I want to read this book. Thanks for this great review Sandy, I'll add it to my wishlist.

caite said...

5 out of 5?
well, this one I actually own, but frankly, I put it off because it was rather big. ;-)

Susan said...

Good lord, it sounds just like his An Instance of the Fingerpost! My good friend recommended that one to me and I read about 3/4 of it, totally confused and still not understanding the characters or the plot. I finally gave up and reclaimed my life. I never finished it. And I don't regret it one little bit.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

I am really pleased to see that you loved this as much as I did! It is wonderful to see your enthusiasm and to see that a few more people might be tempted to give it a try. I hope word of this wonderful book spreads!

Trisha said...

I am so happy you loved it as that means you are probably my Most Relevant Present at Christmas award winner! This is why I like book lovers; the presents we exchange are always so well used. Anyway, on to the more important topic - this sounds fantastic! I am adding it to the TBR pile, perhaps as a summer book since it sounds like a slower, more complex read.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've heard very much good about this book and so requested it from the library - it seems like ages ago. I'm still 27th in line or something!

S. Krishna said...

Wow, what a review! I've had this sitting on my shelf for ages, I'm going to have to move it up higher in the TBR pile.

Ti said...

I'm not sure what to think about this one. I've heard good things but the topic is sort of iffy with me. I haven't read Fingersmith yet either even though everyone raves about it.

Julie P. said...

This must be amazing because you don't just give 5s out lightly either!

bermudaonion said...

I've had this one for a while and I've been a little intimidated by its size. It sounds like I need to get over myself and read it!

Kathleen said...

If it is anything like Fingersmith, I am IN!!

Darlene said...

Wow, 5 out of 5. I have this book in my stacks somewhere. I may have to dig it out and give it a read. Great review Sandy!

Carrie K. said...

My library has this on audio for download - will have to move it up on the list!

Alice Teh said...

Hey Sandy, you're making me wanting to run out and get this book now. I'll have to put this in my wish list first. Am on BBB now. :D

Beth F said...

5 of 5???? I've owned this one forever. Okay, okay, I'll read it.

Matt said...

Okay Sandy...after enjoying Fingersmith, for which I gave you the credit for recommending, I'm going for this book despite I didn't enjoy his previous stuffs. It just sounds too good. I'm game! :)

Zibilee said...

Great review Sandy! I have An Instance of the Fingerpost on my shelves and have heard great things about it. I am now very interested in this book as well. I am so glad that this book worked it's magic on you, and I look forward to reading it and comparing notes. The fact that you compared it to Fingersmith is just one further attraction to me.

heidenkind said...

Wow! That is a great and very poetic analogy that makes me really want to read the book. I do enjoy Pears' art history mysteries....

Frances said...

Love the I.M. Pei analogy. So many great books just sneak up on you. While you read it, you don't even know how you feel about it and then by book's end you will fortunate to have had one of your best reading experiences. Can't wait to get to this one.

Jenners said...

I put it on my list for the same reason you did ... I'm hoping to tackle it later this year. Glad you liked it as much as Jackie did!

Literary Feline said...

You've sold me. :-) This sounds like an amazing book. I haven't read anything by this author, but I believe I have at least one of his books in my TBR collection.

Anna said...

You've made me really curious! I like a book that ends with a punch.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

The Bumbles said...

Now this sounds like something I would really enjoy. I just added it to my Goodreads list. Love the Pei analogy.