Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Year of Falling - Quirky, funny and inspiringly touching

When the porcelain dolls start turning up on Selina’s doorstep, she knows it’s a bad sign. Shortly afterwards she embarks on an ill-judged affair with a celebrity TV chef. Both events, and the lies and untold truths at their heart, precipitate a spectacular fall from grace for high-flying graphic artist, Selina.
Enter Smith: the sister who saved Selina once before. But this time Smith’s life is complicated by a small boy called Ragnar, and she’s almost too late.”

Alongside her hats for award-winning short fiction and poetry, Janis Freegard can now confidently hang another – for fiction. Freegard is well-regarded as a poet (her debut poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, was published in 2011 by Auckland University Press). But she’s not unfamiliar with fiction – having won the Katherine Mansfield award in 2001.

When I first picked up The Year of Falling I was after something to settle down with for the weekend – preferably something that would save me from the rain; and that would pair well with a glass of red. Unfortunately, I got neither – as the glass of wine was set shamefully to one side (Selina’s inebriated falling made me regret the majority of my life choices) and the book was devoured in a single sitting – a complete reversal of my usual Friday night.

Quirky, funny and inspiringly touching, Freegard has a knack for writing scenes which are painfully human. I watched as Selina’s life start to drift away from her, and screamed in frustration as she ‘reasoned’ her way into further trouble. And I became a silent observer (albeit slightly tearful) as the stoic Smith dealt with the heart-breaking complexities of losing a friend, raising a child, and caring for a sister.

The Year of falling is the first adult fiction title published by Mākaro Press, after their recent stunning successes with Young Adult Fiction. And it truly is a fantastic read – though I would suggest skipping the complementary glass of wine.

The Year of Falling launches alongside Freegard’s poetry book, The Glass Rooster (published by Auckland University Press), on Tuesday 16 June, from 5.30–7 pm, at Meow (9 Edward Street, Wellington).

Review by  Emma Bryson, publishing student at Whitireia Polytechnic.

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