AWW Feature/Review: Free-Falling by Nicola Moriarty

Title: Free-Falling

Author: Nicola Moriarty

Published: Random House Australia Feb 2012

Synopsis: Free-Falling is a tragic-romantic comedy – of heartbreak and heroism, grief and ghostly dreams…  Belinda is not coping well with her fiancé Andy’s death – and that is before she realises she is pregnant … with twins.  When out of the blue she starts receiving gifts that were so typical of Andy, and when problems around the apartment are mysteriously fixed, Belinda decides she now believes in ghosts.  Meanwhile Evelyn, Andy’s mother, is also struggling with her loss. Her coping strategies include blaming Belinda, shop-lifting, hating Belinda even more, and taking up sky-diving. And it is Baz, her instructor, who helps her look to the future. So why is he so twitchy when he hears how Andy died?  Cutting between the past and present, Nicola Moriarty cleverly weaves the heart-warming story of two women and the man they loved and lost

Status: Read on January 24, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Random House Australia}

My Thoughts:

Nicola Moriarty has an impressive pedigree, her sisters are well known Australian authors Lian Moriarty (What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story) and Jaclyn Moriarty (Feeling Sorry for CeliaHave a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes).
Free Falling is Nicola’s debut novel and it is a wonderful story of love, family, grief and moving on. It begins when Andy is killed and his mother blames his grief stricken fiance, Belinda. While Evelyn rages, alienating her surviving son, refusing to return to work and taking up sky diving with a young man named Bazza, Belinda is falling apart. She is drinking too much, blaming herself and wakes each morning forgetting he is gone. When strange things begin to happen – a delivery of flowers, a repaired letter box hinge, Belinda thinks Andy may still be with her, and he is in a way. It is weeks before she discovers he has left her with a surprising parting gift. Both women must learn to let go of their anger, their sadness and their grief to create a new future in honour of the man they have lost.

I admit I was a little nervous accepting Free-Falling for review, as a fan of both Liane and Jacyln, I felt Nicola had a lot to live up to. Thankfully I was captivated by this novel from the first when we are introduced to Belinda in the rawness of her grief. Moriarty is not only able to capture Belinda’s immediate grief, as the novel develops, she realistically portrays the range of emotions Belinda experiences. Her sadness, fear and courage create a well developed protagonist that I cared about.
Moriarty takes equal care in developing Evelyn who is not immediately sympathetic, especially after the events at the funeral, but as her character is revealed I began to understand her better, even though her behaviour continued to be unpleasant.
Moriarty slowly reveals the the circumstances of Andy’s death, initially the event that led to his death is barely mentioned and it isn’t until the near the end of the novel that we learn the truth. While we never meet Andy we get to know him a little through the people he left behind, Belinda and Evelyn of course, but also Andy’s twin brother, James. Naturally enough James struggles with his brother’s death especially given that James is the less responsible of the two, more likely to take risks.
Bazza, a sky diving instructor, becomes an unlikely confidante for Evelyn. I found him very likeable but I would have liked to have learnt a little more about him as he plays such a surprisingly pivotal role in the novel.
While Free-Falling is a character driven story, well grounded in human drama, it does have it’s lighter moments and a touch of magical realism. I found the story well written and was quickly engrossed, reading it straight through, from beginning to end.

Free-Falling is both a delightful and heart breaking story, described as a tragic – romantic comedy it is light women’s fiction at its best. Free – Falling should be on your reading list and I am eagerly looking forward to her next book.

—————————————–

In my other life I (still) could have been a writer… by Nicola Moriarty

There were several signs throughout my life. There was the children’s book I created in Primary School, the teacher read it out to the class and I was ‘fall-off-my-chair’ ecstatic. There was the (somewhat graphic) essay about road-safety that I wrote in high-school for a competition to win a bicycle. I came in second, I won a helmet. When I moved out of home, I joked with my then boyfriend (now husband) that I planned on creating a cookbook: 101 recipes you can leave cooking while making love. I was just trying to be sexy and funny, and also we had just burnt the chicken casserole we were trying to make.

Yet for some reason I didn’t notice that everything kept leading back to writing.

So instead I took a course in marketing. I attempted to be a waitress at a theatre restaurant (I got the orders wrong a lot). I taught swimming. I gave door-to-door sales a go. I worked at a hardware store. I asked people if they’d like fries with that (sometimes even when they had already ordered fries). I lasted two days at a Chinese restaurant after I took a home delivery order and forget to get the delivery address. I cut ads out of newspapers for an advertising agency and glued them carefully to invoices. I worked for a window company, an IT company, a chocolate company. I ate too many chocolates.

Finally, I remembered that I liked to write. I didn’t intend to create an entire novel. I just sat down at the computer and started writing. I accidently wrote the first chapter of Free-Falling. Then, over the course of several years, I kept coming back to it, adding more chapters, making plans, changing bits and writing some more. Somewhere along the way, I started to think… maybe this could be a novel? So I did a Google search: ‘How many words in an average novel?’ As always, Google provided me with the answer and I set myself a goal of 100,000 words.

When I finally reached that goal I was absolutely thrilled. I was also terrified. What if no one else liked it? I had my husband read it first and I looked over his shoulder as he read, interrupting with helpful comments such as ‘Did that bit make you laugh?’ and ‘Do you get what she’s saying there? She’s upset because of what he said, earlier, right?’ My husband ordered me out of the room. Luckily, when he finished reading it, he said that he loved it – although I guess he had to, because otherwise I would have kicked him in the shin.

From there, two of my sisters read Free-Falling (the magnificent authors, Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty), then more family and friends, and finally I couldn’t put it off any longer. I sent it off to an agent to see if I could get my first publishing deal.

Now, all this time later, complete strangers are going to be reading my book. My hope is that Free-Falling will make them laugh a little, smile a lot, maybe cry (preferably loudly – in public) and will leave them feeling warm and satisfied, as though they have just drunk a hot chocolate with marshmallows. Although it is still summer, so perhaps an iced tea with mint leaves would be a better analogy? And I’ll just have to accept the fact that if they don’t love it, I won’t be able to kick them in the shins – and not just because that’s not a very professional thing to do.

About the Author

Nicola Moriarty is a student, mother, swimming teacher and now writer who lives in Sydney’s North West.  She has been an actress, a (terrible) waitress, an (equally terrible) bartender in a London pub, a marketing coordinator and a door-to-door sales person. One day, about five years ago she decided to try and write her first novel, a thriller. After 10,000 words the plot had become so complicated that even she couldn’t understand what was going on, and so that manuscript and her potential writing career was abandoned. Two years later she decided to start again, this time with a tragic romantic comedy (at least that’s what she thinks it is). After three years of writing and re-writing in between giving birth twice, changing jobs three times, attempting to run a gift hamper business and deciding to start a teaching degree at Macquarie University, her first novel has finally been completed.

Available To Purchase

Australia: @ BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I@Readings I@ Pages & Pages

International: Amazon Kindle

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. VeganYANerds
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 08:18:58

    I really enjoyed this review as I’ve been looking forward to Nicola’s debut novel! I’m so glad it lived up to expectations, the Moriarty family is full of talent!

    Mands

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  2. Danielle
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 10:05:33

    I can’t wait to read this book! What a lovely, talented family.

    Great review 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 12:09:09

    I have a copy of this book on its way to me, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it. I love how Nicola had such a circuitous entry to publishing!

    Like

    Reply

  4. Jacquie Underdown
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 17:23:34

    Great review. I tend to stay away from sad books, becaue I’m a major sook, but this sounds intriguing. I might add it to my list.

    Like

    Reply

  5. The Australian Bookshelf
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 17:47:11

    Such a talented family! It’s so lovely to hear that the three sisters support each other in their writing. Free-falling sounds like a really well written story with engaging characters. Thanks for your review Shelleyrae

    Jayne @ The Australian Bookshelf

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  6. Lu
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 21:35:24

    Reply

  7. Teddyree
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 00:02:54

    WOW all 3 sisters published authors … how awesome! I love a novel that makes you laugh and cry so thanks for the “heads up” on Free Falling, it’s going straight on my wishlist 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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