Fallen is a historical fiction novel set in Dublin in 1915. It is WWI and the story starts off with Katie Crilly learning that her brother has enlisted as a soldier, to fight in the war. She is conflicted with emotions, as his twin, she felt betrayed that he didn’t discuss it with her first, but she is also scared for him. While Liam is in training, she is convinced that it will “all be over soon”, before he has the chance to fight…
A few months after he left, they received the devastating news that Liam was killed during a fight in Flanders. She has to deal with the death of her brother, but she is also oppressed by her mother who believes women should not seek education, but look for a husband. Not being able to pursue her master’s degree, she takes the job of research assistant to a lady, called Dorothy, who is writing a book about historical sculptures in Dublin. Being away from home, she finds comfort in her work, and later friendship, with Dorothy and her roommate May. During this time working for Dorothy, she meets May’s nephew, Hubie Wilson, who is a war veteran and friend of her brother Liam.
Liam’s story is being told via letters he had written to Katie while he was in Flanders. In these letters we can see his journey, from being excited to fight for his country to a man with a broken spirit. Katie deals with the loss of her brother by finding comfort in reading his letters and by listening to Hubie’s war stories and his answers to her questions. She also learns from him what her brother might have experienced, which he did not relay in his letters to her. All the while, the Eastern Rising of 1916 is happening and the city is engulfed with violence.
War stories have always been a topic of interest to me, but WWI is new territory. What makes this story so enjoyable is that it interests you in a way that you want to learn more of the subject. The historical elements are touched upon in the novel, but the focus of the novel was the characters. It is being told from Katie’s perspective, a normal person who was merely a spectator. It relays to us, the feelings of uncertainty and fear that the people felt, the ones who might not have been fully aware of what is going on around them. It’s for this reason that I liked this novel a whole lot!
The title, “Fallen” has a double meaning in the book, but I won’t tell you what it is. Have you read this novel? Do you enjoy WWI novels?