After the Fall

Charity Norman

In the quiet of a New Zealand winter's night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He's fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse, and his condition is critical. At first, Finn's fall looks like a horrible accident; after all, he's prone to sleepwalking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it happened. And she isn't telling...

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After the Fall is a book about a family in crisis. If you enjoy reading family sagas involving current, edgy dilemmas (such as the novels of Jodi Picoult) I really recommend it.

Martha McNamara’s family life in London is in ruins. Thanks to the recession her husband Kit has lost his job. The advertising agency he’s been doing so well in has crashed, and all Kit’s attempts to find another job have failed. Blaming himself, Kit starts drinking heavily.

Desperate for a second chance, Martha and Kit decide to emigrate to N ew Zealand. Kit is a talented artist, and he dreams of fulfilling his potential out there. Working so hard in London to provide for his family, he’s had no time to paint and longs for a fresh start.

Martha and her two small twin sons, Finn and Charlie, are thrilled with their new home in Hawk’s Bay – a small town on the isolated east coast of New Zealand’s North Island (where the author herself lives).

Kit stops drinking, and happily begins to paint again.

Only Martha’s sixteen-year-old daughter Sacha has trouble settling in. In fact, for her, emigrating is the start of a nightmare.

Desperate to believe that she’s made the right decision for her family, Martha tries to ignore her increasing worries about her daughter, until one night, the family is engulfed by tragedy. Their beautiful idle, their much longed for new life in paradise, disintegrates into horror.


In After the Fall, Martha is the narrator, and the book alternates between past and present. As events unfold, we discover what has lead to the disastrous night when a five-year-old boy falls from the upstairs verandah of an isolated farmhouse. He suffers severe internal injuries, and a rescue helicopter is dispatched to airlift him to intensive care at Hawk’s Bay hospital.

The boy’s injuries are life-threatening and he is immediately operated on.

At first, everyone assumes his fall was an accident, but the hospital refuses to confirm this. However, the spokesman tells the local newspaper that police and protection agencies have been alerted and ‘comprehensive enquiries’ have begun.

The little boy is Finn, one of Martha’s twin sons. He’s prone to sleepwalking, so at first it’s easy to suppose his fall is a tragic accident.

But it wasn’t. Only Finn’s mother, Martha, knows exactly what happened.

That’s how After the Fall begins. The rest of this compelling novel charts the complex family dynamics that led up to Finn’s fall. It becomes clear that Martha has a secretive past, and one that’s about to destroy her family.

Skilfully written, the story will appeal to parents of young adults - as well as anyone who is curious about how a family deals with a shattering event.

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  • Highly recommended. I was hooked from page one. The storyline keeps you guessing and the author draws you into the outback of New Zealand giving you a wonderful insight of all the splendour of a magical country.

    Lyn Blenkharn

  • I have just finished this book, it was an easy reading.

    Really I felt that it just went over the same situation again and again, for me just too much padding.

    Diane Lotherington

  • I could not put it down. It's a story that's full of twists and turns that are not predictable. I would highly recommend it.


  • A slow start but really gripping once the pace picks up. Every mothers nightmare what a great read.

    Danielle Savage

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