Lovers Fall Back to Earth
About the book: 
Lovers Fall Back to Earth by Cecilia Frey is a human drama about three sisters, the men they marry, and the repercussions in their lives when disaster strikes. The sisters fall in love while they are at university and the three couples become part of a group of students who are shaped by the ideas of the sixties and who meet to discuss ideas of liberty, politics, and environmentalism. Young and idealistic revolutionaries, they believe they can change the world, as they hold forth in the smoking room where they spout philosophies about personal freedom. They form strong relationships and marry but, inevitably, each couple chooses a different life style. Amelia and Reuben live as hippies, Esther and George choose a middle-class upward-mobility life, Helen and Benjamin are the academics. When an unexpected tragedy shatters the lives of all three couples, they are forced to build their lives anew, questioning the idealism of their youth as they learn to deal with the impact of their actions on those they love. (less)
 
My review:
A hilarious misconception of youth is that life gets increasingly simple as you age. There is the assumption that the actions of your past and present will slip into interlocking puzzle-piece perfection and you will effortlessly canoe across the mirrored calm of a still lake, with the trees backlit on a sunny afternoon and the birds singing a happy chorus.
 
Or you believe I’ll be old, I won’t care and even if I do, it won’t matter. You think that your hopes and dreams and desires will become as politely as invisible as you imagine you yourself will feel and your reward for getting old will be a life of untangled placid yet satisfying adventure.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. Life is the same tangled mess as it ever was and not only that but you’re dragging your unwieldy past behind you, like a tired Santa leaving a Goodwill, hoping to convince the crowds that his gifts are the shiny new real deal and not the dented and chipped relics from a bygone era.
 
And this is where the power and strength and beauty of Cecilia Frey’s writing lies. Frey takes youthful assumptions, the relentless passing of time, the pervasive culture that surrounded one during those formative years and she adds to it the complicated plots and subplots of siblingness and the result is an extremely well-crafted, fine tale.
 
The writing itself is inspiring. I’ve read a number of books lately in which POV is switched back and forth and Frey uses this in Lovers Fall Back to Earth and proves herself the master. It’s as if you slip inside the skin of each character and feel how their bodies move, where it aches and what brings pleasure. You feel the switchblade of conflicted emotions and the resolve thereof.
 
Ultimately, this is a hopeful, feel-good book. Santa doesn’t get mowed down by the avalanche of his weighty load. He (or she!) makes peace with the past – even when that means not making peace with it – and moves on, with a flowered pedicure and a fantastic glass of wine! And if this sounds cryptic, well, you’ll have to read the book!  
 
Other reviews:
“Cecelia Frey knows the flower children.  Then, and now. Where did they go with their love beads and messages of universal belonging and peace and love? Twenty years have passed since three sisters and the three men with whom their lives would mesh have moved on from the campus Cave. So long ago that they smoked and drinked and philosophized in that campus club so frequently that a table was named after them. They were the Philosophers Circle.
 
Cecelia Frey is  adept at delivering both the spoken and the unspoken memories of her characters; the melancholy, the sadness, the bitterness over having arrived where they are now­—a place where they have “failed to make any coherent sense of their lives.” Known for her skill in delivering dialogue, the conversations that run a gamut of emotion ring with authenticity. These well-drawn characters evoke compassion, frustration, outrage, and sorrow. As Frey takes us back and forth in their lives with skilful storytelling, it is clear that she feels the same affection and apprehension over the fates that befall them. This is a compelling tale of entangled  lives and human foible. “
 —Betty Jane Hegerat, author of The Boy
 
"Lovers Fall Back to Earth gives the reader rare insight into how grief, guilt, and trauma impact a network of siblings and partners. The effect on each character is often unexpected but also entirely believable. Cecilia Frey's beautiful novel is, in turn, painful, entertaining, and tender."
—Paul Butler, author of The Widow's Fire
 
"From the very first paragraph through to the novel’s close, author Cecelia Frey will draw you in to this story of three close, but temperamentally different, sisters, their divergent paths and the impact of a tragedy. Themes of love and marriage, aspirations met and unmet, self-realization, loss, infidelity, forgiveness and redemption, are not new. But it is Frey’s exploration of character that breathes new life into those narratives. With clarity, surety and a straight-forward style, she drives the story-line quickly forward, while, in seeming counterpoint, skilfully allowing herself the slower pace, the time — and the reader the luxury — to savour the qualities unique to each character. She, and we, relish the details that give them depth and roundness; reveal their goodness as well as their weaknesses, inconsistencies, reflections, self-doubts; in short, what makes them human, their relationships and struggles believable. We recognize ourselves. It is that gift of characterization that makes this novel an outstanding, compelling read." —Rhoda Rabinowitz Green, author of Aspects of Nature and Moon Over Mandalay
 
    



"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press

Electric Fences
About the book: 
Electric Fences and Other Stories by Gugu Hlongwane is a collection of understated yet graphic and moving stories set in the South African townships of Durban, during and post apartheid. The female protagonists contend with forms of racism, male violence, and sheer poverty as they go about their lives and find dignity as mothers, daughters, students, and lovers. An unforgettable collection.

My review: 
In a land such as South Africa, is it possible to ever understand the complex consequences of injustice, cruelty and racial discrimination? How can one right the wrongs of the past and the present and in some way forge a new country, one that is  governed and run with respect for the individual, equality, stability, prosperity and peace?
 
The fallout from colonialism and apartheid, along with the forces of greed and the resultant corruption of power, have all come together to create an uneasy no man's land - more realistically, a no woman’s land because of the heavy-handed patriarchy.
 
Electric Fences is a a highly recommended read for anyone who'd like to understand the psyche and workings of a damaged and bruised land, a land that is birthplace to exiles who remain and exiles who leave. 
 
Other reviews:

"The title story, 'Electric Fences,' presents a fully realized world view by this talented writer." –Sarah Murdoch, The Toronto Star

As someone who is familiar in only a broad perspective of apartheid, this is a superb collection of short stories that personalize the era of pre and post apartheid and especially the impact of black South African women.
It was enlightening, appalling, but presented to me the personal stories of the definition of Fences... keeping the separation of the "whites" from their assumption that they were superior. Why am I not surprised as we we seem to be experiencing the same discriminations today. I imagine I am ignorant of the degradation suffered by blacks in post-apartheid as I was never taught prejudice. 


I read this book in one sitting but plan to read again once I figure out the degradation that was suffered and probably I need to try to understand or comprehend human nature. That said, I have not spent any time in the South and curious to see or hear similar stories. I look forward to passing this book around the book clubs I belong to have some serious dialog as the USA is experiencing the same issues or rather, still on-going and I know there will be some definite differences in opinion. 
– Peg Lloyd, Goodreads