Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky
Reviewed by Emily Eytchison
When cool, confident, beautiful blonde Ellie Larrabee meets Rob Beauman—Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome himself—they seem to be a match made in New York socialite heaven. That is, until debut novelist Nina Sadowsky gets her hands on them. As Just Fall (Ballantine Books) tracks Rob and Ellie’s love story from meet-cute to disrupted dream wedding and beyond, Sadowsky’s non-linear narrative strips away their Hollywood-perfect façades with the relentlessness of real life itself.
The “Now” portion of the plot starts with Ellie mysteriously lingering in a hotel room with a dead man and a cryptic note from her brand-new husband Rob. What has happened here? the narrator asks, before disappearing as we shift into “Then” flashbacks, which gradually reveal the deeply disturbing stories in our golden couple’s pasts. (Especially Rob—his history of demented father figures could make The Great Santini cry.)
Sadowsky doesn’t ask us to feel sorry for her characters, though. Her focus is on exploring the doubt and disillusionment that often invade long-term romantic relationships, through the heightened circumstances of murder and treachery in St. Lucia. Complex, suspenseful, and character-driven, Just Fall‘s wild ride through missing persons cases, double-crosses, and severed lips reads like a modern-day Hitchcock thriller.
Although Just Fall is Sadowsky’s first novel, it is far from her first storytelling venture. A veteran screenwriter and producer, her sensibilities are given to sweeping panoramic visions of the island landscape and subtle, striking close-ups of important moments and details. Her opening scene in particular is a sensory experience so vivid it borders on intoxicating, and her capacity to conjure imagery seems to be witchcraft.
The camera may follow Rob and Ellie to bed one time too many, slowing the story’s progression somewhat, but for the most part, the narrative moves forward with the minimalist impatience of an action film. (So much so that the interludes following Detective Lucien Broussard’s subplot occasionally seems to inhibit the “real” story, until close to the very end.)
Just Fall will be a movie before too long. That’s such a given it’s hardly worth mentioning, except to remind you that if you read it now, you’ll get to mentally cast the leads however you please. (My vote for Rob is Oscar Isaac, in case anyone in Hollywood is listening.)
Emily Eytchison is a writer, actor, and artist based in Nashville, TN. She recently graduated with a BFA in Directing and a minor in English, and believes in the power of story to give the silenced a voice. You can find her @speaksponiards on Twitter, and @eytchface on Instagram.
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