An airplane disintegrates mid-air. A woman is sent hurtling through the roof of a Kansas barn. And yet survives. Seems unbelievable? There have indeed been quite a few incidents of passengers surviving impossible plane crashes.
Caught in a loveless marriage, diagnosed with a form of cancer that’s almost always fatal, Erin Geraghty decides to disappear without a trace. Thus begins her moving and personal fight to keep secret the story of her survival, even from her own family.
The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell asks compelling and controversial questions about the value of life and what should be sacrificed in the name of love. The acute and macabre public fascination with commercial airplane crashes. And how traditional and social media sensationalizes events, often at the cost of the victim’s mental health.
Erin Geraghty is on her way to a survivor’s retreat when she boards her flight. Facing a losing battle with cancer, with diminishing hope of a full recovery, she considers herself essentially dead to her loved ones, resigned to a fate of failed medical interventions and long, painful goodbyes. She awakens in a barn still strapped to her seat, the sole survivor of the catastrophic crash of Pointer Airlines Flight 795. Assumed to have died in the crash, she is intent on remaining dead to the world and to her family, to live out her final days in peace.
Charlie Radford, a young National Transportation Safety Board investigator, is part of the team sent to determine what caused the crash. When he hears a rumor of a survivor, he assumes it is a hoax, But as word of this “miracle” reaches the media and Congress, Radford is forced to track down “the falling woman”. Can he find Erin and convince her to come forward—and does he have any right to?
Tense, thrilling, and deeply profound, The Falling Woman examines what it means to be singled out by luck or destiny. It explores what we owe to our loved ones in our final days, and what we owe ourselves.
“[A] mind-rattling debut mystery… Page after page, Farrell builds confusion and frustration into an incendiary debate between belief in the miraculous and the basic laws of physics… When he finally discovers the truth, what Charlie does with it will make for an explosive discussion long after the final chapter.”
— Shelf Awareness
“A startling and suspenseful debut, Farrell’s The Falling Woman creates an immediately compelling scenario… Farrell keeps a firm grip on the story’s inherent tensions while also delving into the subtle and profound questions the incredible story provokes.”
“[The Falling Woman] opens with Erin’s fall, and the breathless introduction sets Farrell’s propulsive, emotional story in motion. Though Erin’s choices may not immediately align with societal expectations, it’s her commitment to her own beliefs—and her deep instinct to do what’s best for her family—that will pull readers into her corner.”
—Manhattan Book Review
“Former pilot Farrell’s skillfully written story of hope, love, and regret contemplated amid a fast-paced, high-pressure major airline accident investigation will appeal to readers who enjoyed Michael Crichton’s Airframe, Gregg Hurwitz’s The Survivor, and Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall.”
“[A] solid debut… Farrell’s thoughtful novel calls to mind the heights of Rafael Yglesias’s Fearless.”
“An intriguing story given weight by its examination of what it means to be faithful.”
“An ambitious debut novel about a plane crash investigation and the solitary survivor of the deadly accident… A former pilot himself, [Farrell] writes vividly, at times rhapsodically, about flying.”
“The Falling Woman is the kind of novel I like best: a page-turning glimpse into a world I have always been curious about (an investigation of a commercial airline accident) combined with great writing, great plotting and a thoughtful plumbing of what makes us human—with a twist at the end. Highly recommended.”
—B.A. Shapiro, bestselling author of The Collector’s Apprentice
“A thoughtful, intelligent, and meticulously crafted novel about expectations and choices, tragedies and miracles, limitations and freedom. I enjoyed every page; it is a gem.”
—T. Greenwood, author of Keeping Lucy
“What would you do if you were confronted with a miracle? That is the essential question posed in The Falling Woman, a surprisingly spiritual novel about a plane crash. Two people entwined in the investigation, both in desperate need of hope—and a true home—grapple with an answer, which may prove as perilous as the catastrophe. Part mystery and part prayer, this page turner about mortality is iridescent. I loved it.’”
—Robin Oliveira, author of Winter Sisters
“A stunning debut, The Fallen Woman kept me riveted to the very last page. Without sacrificing an ounce of suspense, Farrell manages to ask the big questions about life and love. This is a novel that is perfect for book clubs.”
—Thomas Greene, author of The Perfect Liar and The Housemaster’s Wife
About Richard Farrell:
Richard Farrell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former pilot who holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Hunger Mountain, upstreet, New Plains Review, Potomac Review, Descant, and elsewhere. Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, he teaches creative writing at Grossmont College in San Diego, where he lives with his wife and two children. This is his first novel.
I would like to thank Algonquin Books for providing a digital copy of the book for the blog tour. All opinions are my own.
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