Cover image for The fall
The fall
Mawer, Simon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [2003]

Physical Description:
370 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order


Author Notes

Author and biology teacher Simon Mawer was born in England in 1948. He studied at Somerset's Millfield School and Oxford's Brasenose College, receiving a degree in zoology. Mawer's first novel, Chimera, won the McKitterick Prize, while The Fall earned the 2003 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. He has written several other novels, as well as the exhibition companion volume Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics. His novel, Tightrope, made the New Zealand Best Seller List in 2015 and won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

(Bowker Author Biography) Simon Mawer has a degree from Oxford & lives in Rome. He is the author of "Mendel's Dwarf" & several other widely praised & prize winning novels.

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like his father before him, Jamie Matthewson is a world-class mountain climber and, like his father before him, meets his death while pursuing his passion with a recklessness that fails to exorcise his relentless demons. When Jamie falls during a routine climb in his native Wales, and not on the slopes of Everest as his father had, his death seems more intentional than accidental. For Rob Dewar, Jamie's childhood friend and onetime climbing partner, Jamie's death occasions a fall of his own, a tumble back in time in which he unleashes an avalanche of family secrets that will dangerously bind the two men together in ways neither could ever have imagined. Sons and mothers, husbands and wives, friends and lovers: in Mawer's masterful hands, none of these relationships are what they seem. Intricately weaving time and place, from the bombed-out ruins of World War II London to isolated Alpine mountain peaks, Mawer crafts a sinuously devastating tale of forbidden love and faithless betrayal. A haunting and mesmerizing novel from an expert storyteller. --Carol Haggas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Uncommonly wise and painstakingly crafted, this tale of struggles on personal and physical slopes ranges from present-day Wales to blitz-era London, tracking two generations of tangled love affairs. It begins with the death of acclaimed mountain climber Jamie Matthewson near his home in craggy North Wales. When Jamie's childhood friend Rob Dewar goes to visit Matthewson's widow, Ruth, the novel steps backwards in time to recount the story of Jamie's relationship with Rob and Ruth. From their childhood onwards, Jamie and Rob share a love of mountain climbing, of the sheer danger involved in it. The two men are rivals as athletes but also as lovers, as they compete for the love of many women-from Ruth, a drifting free-spirited artist who eventually marries Jamie, to Jamie's mother herself. As Ruth's relationship with Jamie evolves, it does not necessarily cool with Rob, straining the friendship between the two. Mawer gradually reveals that the complications began before either Jamie or the narrator were born, describing the kindling of romance between Jamie's father, himself a mountain climber, Rob's mother and Jamie's mother in England during the heady years of World War II. Although the mountain-climbing descriptions sometimes threaten to overpower the novel with their intensity, their metaphorical significance always wins out. Mawer has created characters and situations that overflow with truly believable pain and exhilaration, and he endows the narrative with a surging energy that pushes the book forward, all the way to an end which, like the final line of a haiku, casts a startling light on everything that came before it. (Jan. 7) Forecast: Mawer has made a name for himself as a brainy, broad-canvas novelist (Mendel's Dwarf; The Gospel of Judas). This quieter effort may attract a few mountain-climbing aficionados in addition to Mawer loyalists. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A middle-aged man's fall on a foolhardy climb is the prelude to this lovely two-generational love story. The death of famed English climber Jamie Matthewson, son of the legendary Guy Matthewson, who died high on a Himalayan mountain, draws closest friend and former climbing partner Rob Dewar back to the climbing community and opens the way to startling revelations involving the two men and their families. Mawer (Mendel's Dwarf; The Gospel of Judas) explores seduction, betrayal, and love in its various aspects in scenes ranging from the horrific bombing of 1940s London to breathtaking, perilous climbs. As a backdrop, climbing comes to serve both as an analogy for and an escape from life. Rob, Jamie, and the people they love are exceptionally well drawn, and their story is as absorbing as it is accomplished. For all fiction collections.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.