“It’s designed to self-destruct. Grain by grain, year by year.
– The Art of Falling
[ About the Book ]
Nessa McCormack’s marriage is coming back together again after her husband’s affair. She is excited to be in charge of a retrospective art exhibit for one of Ireland’s most beloved and enigmatic artists, the late sculptor Robert Locke. But the arrival of two outsiders imperils both her personal and professional worlds: a chance encounter with an old friend threatens to expose a betrayal Nessa thought she had long put behind her, and at work, an odd woman comes forward claiming to be the true creator of Robert Locke’s most famous work, The Chalk Sculpture.
As Nessa finds the past intruding on the present, she must decide whether she can continue to live a lie – or whether she’s ready to face the consequences once everything is out in the open. In this gripping debut, Danielle McLaughlin reveals profound truths about love, power, and the secrets that rule us.
[ My Review ]
Cork writer Danielle McLaughlin has been making waves in the literary world for a number of years, with her 2015 debut short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets receiving great praise from many. Anne Enright stated that “this is not a debut in the usual sense; a promise of greater things to come. There is no need to ask what Danielle McLaughlin will do next, she has done it already. This book has arrived. I think it will stay with us for a long time” In 2019 she was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction and was the winner of The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. Now Danielle McLaughlin is releasing (Feb 4th) her debut novel, The Art of Falling, with John Murray Publishers, a book that has been described as ‘a beautifully written family drama about betrayal, ownership and creativity..’
Set in Cork, with the most vivid description of places that are very familiar to me, Danielle McLaughlin has written a superb debut novel. The Art of Falling is a quiet story with stunning writing that completely captures the attention of the reader. It has a simplicity in its elegance, yet carries great depth as we read about the life of Nessa McCormack, an art curator for a gallery in Cork, ‘a renovated Venetian-style building on the north quays of Cork city, with windows reminiscent of Grand Central Station…’
Nessa had the perfect life. A beautiful home in Sunday’s Well with a garden that swept down to the River Lee overlooking Fitzgerald’s Park across it’s banks, a fifteen-year-old daughter, Jennifer and her husband, Philip, who she had always loved and adored. But all that changed the day she discovered that Philip had had an affair with Cora Wilson, the mother of Jennifer’s close friend Mandy. With the seed of anger planted in their relationship, the poison began to spread and infiltrate their lives. Nessa wanted to forgive, wanted to move on, but it was proving a greater challenge than she had expected. Reminders always triggered the feelings of jealousy and disgust, little barbs that kept rising up out of the ground.
The one solace Nessa had in her life was her job and the exciting proposition of a new exhibition by renowned sculptor, Robert Locke. With the artist now dead, his wife gave permission for a gallery showcase that would highlight his piece The Chalk Sculpture, one that had attracted pilgrims to the Locke family home in West Cork over the years due to it’s supposed fertility attributes. It is Nessa’s job to collate the exhibit, which includes his disassembled workshop/studio, and display it at the gallery to all his fans, both new and old. With her weekly visits to West Cork Nessa has been able to distract herself from her personal life but when an old friend re-enters her world Nessa soon realises that past actions are about to come crashing in on her world. Meanwhile, a rather eccentric lady has surfaced claiming rights over The Chalk Sculpture and is throwing doubt on the true origins of this famed piece.
Nessa initially is sceptical of this woman’s claim. There is no documentary evidence and the Locke family have no knowledge of this woman, yet there is something niggling at Nessa’s mind all the same. Her trips to West Cork become more frequent due to an invite to a friend’s holiday home overlooking the breath-taking lake, Lough Hyne, near Skibbereen and it is here that she bumps into someone from her past. Now. in both her personal and professional life, the past is clashing with the present, with the real possibility of disastrous results on all fronts. Nessa is faced with some very challenging decisions, knowing that any move she makes will have consequences, not just for her, but for her family and friends and also from a professional perspective for the Locke Family and the greater art world.
The Art of Falling is a novel that has been over nine years in the making, with Danielle McLaughlin ensuring that what we would be presented with would be this piece of perfection. It is a novel of introspection, a novel of character and a novel of beauty. Exploring multiple themes Danielle McLaughlin has expertly written a moving, deep and compelling read examining marriage, relationships, creativity and so much more. It’s premise is quite unique and it’s presentation is beautifully crafted in a tale that will capture the heart and soul of every reader.
The Art of Falling is a stunning book, an outstanding piece of literary fiction. With its most striking descriptions of Cork city and county, Danielle McLaughlin captures the beauty of her home with gorgeous imagery throughout. Packed with subtle observations of life in all its complexities, The Art of Falling is an exquisite debut novel and, I can honestly say, it has been an honour and a real pleasure to have had the opportunity to read it.
[ Bio ]
Danielle McLaughlin’s debut novel The Art of Falling is published in January 2021 by Random House in the US and in February 2021 by John Murray in the UK and Ireland.
Danielle’s debut collection of short stories, Dinosaurs On Other Planets, was published in Ireland in 2015 by The Stinging Fly Press and in the UK and the US & Canada by John Murray and Random House in 2016. In 2019 she was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction. She was Writer in Residence at UCC for 2018-2019.
Website – Danielle McLaughlin – Writer