I received this book from the publishers, Seren, after being contacted by the author Kathryn Simmonds herself, who having seen the sort of themes in books I like (politics, feminism, history) on this blog thought I might find Love and Fallout interesting.
The novel begins with middle-aged Tessa being, much to her horror, surprised by her best friend and husband with an appearance on a makeover TV show. Tessa runs an environmental charity and spends most of her time campaigning leaving Pete, her teacher husband, feeling neglected. Tessa’s activist life started when she joined the women’s camp at Greenham Common in the 1980s and the TV producers’ interest in this brings this period of her life back to her in vivid detail. Tessa, then a naive young woman, joins the protest on a whim- smarting from a break up and bored with her secretarial job, but her time there and the people she meets are an important formative experience.
I would describe Love and Fallout as a gentle book. There are not too many ‘dramatic’ moments and the writing style is relaxed and easy to read. I think the characters are all well drawn and three-dimensional and the whole story seems very believable. I perhaps would have liked a bit more politics and did slightly share Angela, one of the more earnest camp members, criticism of Tessa that she wasn’t there for the right reasons and didn’t really know what she was doing. However Tessa, especially ‘adult Tessa’, is a sympathetic character who you do root for throughout. I think the book portrays different types of female relationships very well; the mother-daughter relationships between Tessa and Pippa and between Tessa and her own Mum, the lifelong best friend Maggie and then the women at Greenham Common who represent all shades of the activist rainbow (very recognisable if you’ve been involved in any protests or lefty causes!).