The Joy of Falling – Lindsay Harrel – Thomas Nelson -Published 14 April 2020
It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.
But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.
Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?
In the Joy of Falling, Lindsay Harrel has penned a beautiful story about the many faces of grief and about the journey of continuing to move forward and find joy again in life and relationships. This is equally a story about family as it is about individual growth. It is also a romance story, with two romances. At all times, it remains heartwarming and considerate.
Eva and Angela don’t have much in comment except that they both lost their husbands, brothers, in a scuba diving accident. Now, fifteen months on, Eva still has no creative drive or any desire to return to her work as a florist. She spends her time volunteering at the Heart Center and trying to honour her husband’s memory. Angela has three children and two jobs, so she has no time to mourn the husband she lost, nor much energy to confront the feelings of anger and abandonment she feels about his death. When Eva receives a phone call about an ultra-marathon the two brothers were going to complete with their best-friend, Eva convinces Angela to complete the marathon with her.
Set against the breathtaking backdrop of New Zealand and paced with the training Eva and Angela must complete, this is an easy book to fall into and enjoy. For all its beauty, it’s not hard to pick up on the grief, anger and range of emotions the characters are dealing with as they face the loss of husband, son, father and best-friend. Alongside Eva and Angela are their mother-in-law, Angela’s children and Marc, the brothers’ best friend who joins Eva and Angela in entering the marathon. Each form an important piece of the story. Each are feeling different emotions as they process (or ignore) their grief. This book is honest and doesn’t shy away from the very real emotions the characters are facing. Nor does it prevent this being a happy and heartwarming story.
Eva, Angela, their mother-in-law and Angela’s children all move to New Zealand for four months as they finish their training and prepare to complete the ultra marathon. There, the family have time to process their grief and work through some buried feelings. Angela meets a reporter, doing a piece on them completing the marathon in their husbands’ honour, and she is drawn to him. He too is a single parent and they bond over teen troubles and a shared understanding. But Angela is unsure about starting a new relationship, unsure about her feelings from her marriage and wants to focus on making things right with her children.
Eva and Marc, as they train, share a mutual grief for their husband and best friend, as well as a love of adventure and exercise. But a relationship with her husband’s best friend seems wrong. Eva wrestles with guilt as she is increasingly drawn to Marc.
As Eva, Angela and Marc train for and enter the marathon they must confront their pasts and their futures. Time is given for each character to start to heal. The romances are not rushed. And the adventure of the marathon itself is just as thrilling as the complex emotions and relationships in the story.
Beautifully and lovingly written, The Joy of Falling is a touching book.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Adult fiction
Themes: Running, marathons, death, grief, anger, marriage, romance, relationships, New Zealand, family, children.
Published: 14 April 2020 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: paperback, ebook, audiobook. 336 pages.