Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Free Fall is a novel about choices -- or maybe about the fact that we have no choices, that our adult lives are in free fall, outside our control, determined by earlier events and interactions with others. Golding's protagonist, Sammy Mountjoy, examines his life while held in solitary darkness by the Germans as a prisoner of war, trying to determine the exact point at which he lost his free will and became helpless to control his life. Sammy's reminiscences begin in his early childhood, with life with his alcoholic mother, and continue through his school days, early adulthood, and success as a respected artist.

Be warned. This is a dark, dark book. After reading almost all of Golding's novels, I conclude that he must have been a deeply unhappy man, haunted by inner demons. Of all those books of his that I have read, this one reflects despondence most starkly.

This is a short review because the plot is of secondary importance, and it is difficult for me to articulate the more philosophical content. Suffice it to say it seems to me that in my own life, one choice did lead to a succession of events beyond my control, many of them regretful. We all want to believe that we control our own destiny (or as some believe, God completely controls it), but perhaps we are mistaken either way. Perhaps we are in free fall.

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