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Virtual Book Club VII

27 August 2014

This month's review comes from our Community Engagement Officer, who is reviewing the award-winning 'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer.

‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer recently won the Costa award for a first novel.  Filer is a trained psychiatric nurse, who has worked as a researcher in the academic unit of psychiatry at the University of Bristol.  He clearly draws on his experience and training to portray the character of Matthew Homes, a 19 year old who has been struggling with his mental health since the tragic death of his older brother as a child.

We follow Matthew's story as he writes his thoughts down on an old typewriter, using different typefaces, drawings and various typographical techniques to further illustrate his thoughts.  I read the book on Kindle, but recommend reading it in print to get the full effect of this.  Gradually throughout the book we pick up more details about 'The Shock of the Fall', a reference to how his brother, Simon, died and the affect this has had on Matthew's life.

Matthew writes in some detail about his experiences of schizophrenia and the community mental health service that supports him in an honest and direct manner that is easy for the reader to relate to.  The stream of consciousness style of writing that Filer uses allows the reader to experience some of the confusion that Matthew is feeling, while trying to piece together the story from the snapshots we get of Matthew's life.  I cannot speak from experience of schizophrenia or community mental health services, but Filer's depictions make you feel that you are getting a genuine insight into the experience.  Nothing is rose-tinted, and there are both positive and negative moments, which leaves the reader wondering what they will find out next.  The very nature of 'The Shock of the Fall' and the events that follow also serve to make you realise how easily this could be anyone of us.

The next book review will be written by our Development Officer, Sarah Chaney, who will be looking at Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’.  This will be published in mid-October.

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