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Since We Fell

A Novel
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
4 out of 5 stars (1,639 ratings)
Regular price: $31.93
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Publisher's Summary

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel's marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.

By turns heartbreaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

©2017 Dennis Lehane (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 12-23-17

Impressive skill, but awfully contrived

OK, bad news out of the way to start:

First, this is so contrived in so many places that, as well written as it generally is, it won’t survive your putting too much weight on it. [SPOILERS] Why would a con-man go to incredibly elaborate lengths to persuade his wife he’s another man if, as he repeatedly claims, he’s doing so to help cure her of her agoraphobia and panic attacks? Why, if he’s planning an intricate international scam in order to acquire the wealth he dreamed of as a working-class kid, does he have the resources to purchase and outfit multiple safe houses? And why, if he’s trying to earn her eventual trust, does he stage an event in which she believes she’s murdered him?

Why, I can’t help asking now that it’s over, didn’t he just go into it over a nice bottle of wine?

Second, tough-guy Lehane has gone soft on us. The guy behind the brilliant Mystic River and the exemplary noir short story collection Coronado has come to believe in love. [SPOILER] Sure, he has a young woman murdered in front of her newborn, but the point is that even people who’ve screwed one another over can share the sort of love that augurs a happy-ever-after and a new family all their own.

I can’t say such a softening of one of our best pros is all that surprising – the disappointing Live By Night (made into the Ben Affleck movie) showed he was willing to sell out at the right price – but for much of this one I’d hoped we’d see a return to form of the earlier novels.

That’s two major strikes against this but, that said, it’s otherwise as terrific as I can imagine. Lehane is still such a pro, so capable of drawing compelling characters and of exploring a noir universe, that it works in spite of its foundational flaws.

One character, who’s holding a gun to our protagonist Rachel’s head, asks her, “Do you want to be good, or do you want to live?” There may be subtler and more satisfying distillations of the noir premise, but there aren’t any more direct. Everything in life is tarnished; any time we make it through the day, we diminish ourselves through the compromises we make.

Rachel’s afflictions, her inability to deal with strangers, are a consequence of the evils she’s seen as a journalist and as a woman raised by a possessive, overbearing mother. She’s been bruised at every turn, and she determines she doesn’t want to bruise anyone else. She doesn’t even want to be with Brian, in large part because she doesn’t seem to believe she’s worthy of him. (In turn, he seems drawn to her because she represents an unsullied decency that’s beyond him. He’s drawn far less well than she is, though, and since Lehane gives him exceptional chameleon powers, it’s hard to get a real read on him.)

The different sections of this one don’t line up all that well, but Lehane makes each one sing. The first section is an almost stand-alone story about Rachel trying to identify her father. It’s beautifully done, worthy of Lehane’s deep talent, and it succeeds in making historiography – the search for history as opposed to history itself – compelling. The second, when she falls in love with Brian, has a nice resonance as well, suggesting an intriguing version on the old “Gaslight” trope where a husband tries slowly to convince his wife she’s insane.

The next parts of the novel move well – I really enjoyed the tension – but they ultimately strain credulity. They work only as long as Lehane distracts us from their silliness, which he is talented enough to do until, with the book over, not even he can keep us from looking back and asking, “wha?”

I’ve touted Lehane as the exemplar of contemporary noir, the closest thing to a supplanter James Ellroy has known. Well, Ellroy may have slipped a little (he’s recycling his own excellent work, which means something like Perfidia still stands above most of what’s out there), but Lehane has slipped farther. I’m likely to keep reading him (though not the Live By Night sequels – avoid those) but without quite the great expectations he earned with his early work.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Taryn
  • Suffern, NY, United States
  • 12-06-17

slow moving, not up to Lehane's work

I had to return this one after wasting 4 hrs listening to it. It was draggy and boring. I am a Lehane fan and as much as I tried to listen longer I just couldn't force myself to do it. The characters were unlikable and the story was full of psychobabble - as if Lehane took a psych course and decided to write a novel based on it. I was very disappointed.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann
  • United States
  • 05-17-17

Wait ....

The first half of Dennis Lehane's latest novel, Since We Fell, is a meandering but engaging tale of a young female journalist, her relationships, and her callous, overbearing mother. Unfortunately, the second half of the audiobook disintegrates into an unoriginal romance story (a veiled and failed take-off of the sarcastic but in-love Charlie and Rose in the African Queen) between the journalist and her husband who is not who he seems (and his real self is unimpressive). The two characters are often implausible and always one-dimensional, never allowing the reader to become emotionally invested in in either the couple or the story. The hit men and police are embarrassingly clichéd, quite surprising given Lehane's superior writing talent. The ending was a miserable failure. The narrator, Julia Whelan, does a credible job. Wait until the audiobook goes on sale if you must get this book.

41 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Na
  • 05-14-17

Compelling but far fetched

This was a compulsive listen, and I don't regret spending a credit on it. But so many elements of the story turn out to be dead ends, and ultimately the story is very far fetched.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • alicia
  • SALTSBURG, PA, US
  • 01-16-19

Dennis Lehane?

If this were my first Lehane experience, I probably wouldn’t read another. I have rabidly devoured everything he has written and naturally some were better than others, but they were all engaging and most were pageturners. I was fully one third of the way into this before I realized it was going anywhere. Two thirds of the way I gave up and actually returned it. I needed a Lehane fix. Didn’t get it.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A rip-snorting blast!

Dennis Lehane goes all literary on us! But don't worry - he does bring a little bit of his classic noir (a feminine version of noir, at that) home for us in the last third of the book. The reviews I've read don't exactly contain spoilers, but it's better not to address the second half of the book to prevent the full-on ramp up of suspense that grabs you there and pulses through till the end.

Lehane does a decent job with a female protagonist, although his portrait of the woman's mother is grossly one-dimensional amid a sea of better-drawn male characters. And, sir, neither Mount Holyoke nor Smith Colleges are "girls' schools." They are womens' colleges. Duh.

This book is a rip-snorting blast right till the end. Highly recommend - especially if Lehane's more noir stuff set in rain-soaked, scruffy Boston neighborhoods are not your cup of beer. This one's faster and brighter.

The narrator is the same woman from Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies - Julia Whelan, and she is really, really good.

33 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Cliche as all get out.

I really wanted to like this story. But I realized roughly a quarter of the way through that it simply was not going to improve. I listened to the entirety. The narraror, Julie Whelan did a fine job, except when she portrayed male characters and they all sounded the same.
After loving the film adaptations of Lehane's "Shutter Island", "Mystic River", and "Gone Baby Gone," I figured I would listen to a fresh story of his. I couldn't help but feel that after a while, he seemed to write as if he was a student who was required to turn in an essay which was required to be a certain number of words in length and he did everything he could think of to get to that number. It got to the point of being very predictable even to how he would describe something. This was my first exposure to Dennis Lehane as an author and I'm not certain I would waste time with a second book.
Towards the end, our main character, who has been through every sort of pain one can survive, and has learned from their mistakes simply seems to shrug her shoulder and say to herself "Well, guess this is my life now" after she makes a drastic, important decision. After that, the cliches come faster than a Dennis Lehane simile.
This really is not a good book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Kind of a mess

If it didn't name Dennis Lehane as the author, I would not have thought he wrote this. It's nothing like his other books, and that's not meant as a compliment. The story was all over he place, and although there seemed to be an attempt to bring it all together in the final paragraphs, it didn't work for me. Implausible plot, unlikeable characters....I hope his next book is better. This one was a bit of a mess.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Blah

Didn’t enjoy this book. Listened to the bitter end hoping there’d be a payoff — nope. Skip it and read Mystic River or Shutter Island instead.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic performance; somewhat slow going at first

The story progressed slowly for the first half. But I’m glad I stuck with it. The narrator was great!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful