Skip to main content

Review: Stone's Fall, by Iain Pears


I finished Stone’s Fall a few weeks ago, but I held off on writing the review until now. Here’s the description from Amazon:

A return to the form that launched Iain Pears onto bestseller lists around the world: a vast historical mystery, marvelous in its ambition and ingenious in its complexity.

In his most dazzling novel since the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears tells the story of John Stone, financier and arms dealer, a man so wealthy that in the years before World War One 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 twentieth 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.

I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I enjoyed parts of the story and the historical setting is, or course, fantastic. But on the other, I though Stone’s Fall was a bit too slow-moving wordy—it’s a 500-page novel in the body of an 800-page one. The book’s three sections each reveal a different part of the mystery, but I felt as though each ended abruptly, with no true conclusion. As I read, I found my attention wandering many times, too. In addition, the financial parts of the novel were a bit above my head, and Pears is a little too fond of clichés (of the “she could see into my soul” variety). Still, as I said, other parts of the story were enjoyable.

Also reviewed by: Medieval Bookworm, Never Without a Book, A Reader's Journal

Comments

Alyce said…
I'm loving this book, but I still have to read the last section. I don't understand all of the financial stuff, but I like the mystery.
Kristen M. said…
I'm in the middle of this book (just started the second section) and am really enjoying it. I don't have any problems with the pacing or the finance.
The last Pears I read, I quit because I couldn't follow the story and I didn't care about any of the characters, so this is a refreshing change! I'll have a review up next week, I think ...
Anonymous said…
Iain Pears is a difficult author for me to read. I have a hard time following the story, even the premise of The Dream of Scipio and this current title are very intriguing, I cannot stick with them.
S. Krishna said…
Hmm...I have this one on my shelf but I might put it off a little longer. Thanks for this review.
Gaby317 said…
This sounds so fun! I love Iain Pears and can't wait to hunt this down!
Alyce said…
I finished the book, and I loved it. I liked all of the details and was surprised that the length of the book didn't bother me. I'll be posting my review tomorrow.
Sorry this one did not live up to your expectations :( I have it to review as well.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancée, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…