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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: BEFORE THE FALL, Juliet West

“A compelling tale of love, poverty, and yearning”


A compelling, moving tale of a love affair, set in the East End during World War 1 and inspired by an unforgettable true story.

A great war.

A powerful love.

An impossible choice.

I think the war is everywhere: in the rain, in the river, in the grey air that we breathe. It is a current that runs through all of us. You can't escape the current; either you swim with it, or you go under.

1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London's East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everything together. But when Hannah takes a job in a café, she discovers a glimpse of freedom away from her needy young children, her spiteful sister and desperately ill father.

While the conflict drags on, Hannah battles with the overwhelming burden of 'duty'. She has sacrificed so much for a husband who left her behind, a husband who may never come home. Then, when she meets Daniel - thoughtful, intelligent, quietly captivating - Hannah finds herself faced with the most dangerous of temptations . . .

As the war grips tighter and bombs fall down upon the streets, the stakes for the couple grow ever higher. Soon Hannah and Daniel will realise just how precarious their happiness is, as their destiny rushes towards them . . .

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a twist that will leave you breathless, Before The Fall, inspired by a true story, hurls you into a London torn apart by the First World War and paints a vivid and haunting portrait of one woman's struggle.


Beautifully and evocatively written, Before The Fall, is a tale of love that could only have happened during the time it is set. The backdrop is the First World War, a period when so much was changing and yet old values were also still clung to, so. Amongst all of this, Daniel and Hannah meet.

Juliet West, the author, breathes life into her characters to such an extent that by the end I was in tears for them. But it is the world surrounding them that I was most impressed with. West portrays it with rich detail and depth, has clearly researched it incredibly well, and yet it never feels as if she is trying to prove how much she knows, as some authors do. Instead, everything feels real, authentic, and natural, as if she has taken me from the modern world and dropped me into the middle of 1916.

This is a compelling tale of love, poverty, and yearning. What makes it all the more moving is that it is based on a real event. Heartbreaking stuff.

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