In his most dazzling novel since the groundbreaking New York Times best seller An Instance of the Fingerpost, lain Pears tells the story of John Stone, financier and arms dealer, a man so wealthy that in the years before World War I he was able to manipulate markets, industries, and indeed entire countries and continents.
A panoramic novel with a riveting mystery at its heart, Stone's Fall is a quest to discover how and why John Stone dies, falling out of a window at his London home.
Chronologically, it moves backwards from London in 1909 to Paris in 1890, and finally to Venice in 1867 and in the process the quest to uncover the truth plays out against the backdrop of the evolution of high-stakes international finance, Europe's first great age of espionage, and the start of the 20th century's arms race.
Like Fingerpost, Stone's Fall is an intricately plotted and richly satisfying puzzle, an erudite work of history and fiction that feels utterly true and oddly timely and marks the triumphant return of one of the world's great storytellers.
©2009 Spiegel & Grau; (P)2009 Random House
"Each section reads almost like a self-contained novel, but slowly various elements—seemingly minor or disconnected—converge to offer the full story. … [Stone’s Fall] demands slow reading (and even rereading) as the many pieces of this intricate puzzle masterfully come together." (Los Angeles Times)
"[A] labyrinthine historical thriller that travels (sometimes nimbly, sometimes ploddingly) back to the dawn of modern trading and on through two world wars. … This is a massive and well-made book, one ultimately better at characterizing money matters than human affairs." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Stone’s Fall is the best kind of fiction: a powerful combination of storytelling and ideas. The former keeps us mesmerized; the latter prompts us to reflect. It’s a luminous example of how writers can blur, with great success, the porous barrier between ‘popular’ and ‘serious’ literature." (Seattle Times)
Still catching my breath after finishing Stone's Fall last night. Pears' prose flows in fine style loaded with fascinating settings, characters and situations. Placed amidst the economic, military/industrial turmoil of Europe before World War I, the novelist's flights of fiction arise from a historical foundation with aspects readers in 2009 may recognize as quite contemporary.
Listening to the excellent actors who recorded this book is a treat. I hope someone will record The Dream of Scipio, Iain Pears' masterpiece novel of western civilization and ethical challenges.
Despite the five stars I have given "Stone's Fall," I need to say right off that I didn't like it as much as I had hoped I would. But I also need to admit that I have pretty juvenile tastes in novels -- I like lots of action, thrills, and adventure. I suspect that anyone with more mature tastes would enjoy "Stone's Fall" a great deal. It has masterful, intricate plotting, good writing, and outstanding narration. It moves slowly, because it needs to do so. It tells the same story from three different characters' viewpoints ... and the publishers made the excellent decision to use three different (very good) actors to voice these three different viewpoints. "Stone's Fall" tells a story about money, high finance, and a puzzling death. I couldn't appreciate the money part of the plot, because I know little about money, and care even less -- explaining my own poverty. But I followed along well enough to realize that the financial finaglings unfolding in the plot would boggle even a banker's mind. This book tells us how people get immensely rich! Regarding the puzzling death, Pears keeps that mystery simmering until the very last chapter, maintaining our suspense. If you are looking for a thriller, I advise you to bypass this book, because it proceeds slowly and quietly. But if you can do without a lot of excitement and testosterone, then you have found your book.
A brilliantly intertwined plot of espionage, romance, business strategy, deception, and war on the brew. The narration is clever and self-effacing, the characters are intriguing. Please find me any other book that can blend gypsy fortune tellers and the stock market, while maintaining a dry wit throughout. Stellar!
I loved An Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears and have missed his writing ever since. Now he has outdone that story with this one, a truly outstanding piece of inventive historical story telling with characters that intrigued me and superb dialong in the spare English style. This author can really write great lit!
I really love Iain Pears, and have high expectations for this novel. I have really enjoyed it--in all the same ways I loved "Instance of the Fingerpost". I think my only caveat is that the stories told by the three narrators (at least the first two, I have not listened to the whole thing) are told as flashbacks from when they are young men..but the readers are older men. Despite the fact that these readers are awesome, and among some of the best in the business, I sort of wish these flashbacks could have been read by a younger voice--I think it would have given the narrative a bit more zip. I don't know, maybe I am just overdosing on the measured sound of the older British white guy. Again, let me stress.. the readers are fantastic, and I am loving this novel, but wish they could have matched the youthful urgency that the plot sometimes called for.
The structure of this book is unusual and very interesting, making an excellent audio book. The book is told backwards, in a sense, with different sections of the book being told by different narrators. The story is never completely resolved until the last few pages of the last installment. What seems initially simple becomes more and more complex and thus interesting.
It takes a while to get through (which I like) and the whole story is so well built. Characters engaging. Great narrators. If you like historical fiction and British narrators reading to you, yay.
You will, however, want to listen to it again with a new understanding after the conclusion :)
I don't often write reviews of what I've listened to but I'm compelled to write about this, really a fascinating and terrific story, and wonderfully well done by all involved. Although lengthy I actually found myself wishing for more when it was all over. Highly recommended!
I read "An Instance of the Fingerpost" and "The Dream of Scipio" a few years ago, and remember loving this writer's prose, character development and the way he sets a historical scene. "Stone's Fall" never disappoints; it is a suspenseful interwoven story of generations of family, historic and governmental betrayal, love and finance. Wow! A great listen.
Thank you customer reviewers! A great book from start to finish. The first book I might listen to again. I have recommended this book to five friends, a first for me. Easily worth the 2 credits. I only wish the last narrator of the book (there are three) was used for the entire book.
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