A few weeks ago, I was sent Naomi J Williams’ Landfalls* to have a read of. I popped it to the top of the to read pile pretty swiftly, partly because it’s SO BEAUTIFUL (look at that cover! Gorgeous), and partly because it looked to be very different from what I usually read.
Landfalls is a fictionalized reimagining of the ill-fated Lapérouse expedition (1785-1788), a voyage of exploration that attempted to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.
Each chapter of Landfalls is told from a different point of view, including those of the French captains, their officers, scientists on board, rank-and-file crew members, natives and other Europeans they encountered, and loved ones waiting at home.
I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of the expedition the book is based around, but I was intrigued by the idea of the different narrators, and of seeing the story unfold from different angles. I wasn’t disappointed at all; this book is as beautiful inside as it’s cover might have you believe.
(I don’t think that not knowing about the expedition makes too much of a difference, it is a fictionalised account, and I didn’t feel like I had missed anything. That said, I feel like I should mention here that Williams has included a bibliography of her research for the book, so if you do want to know about it before/whilst you read, there’s your chance 😉 )
It’s almost impossible to believe that this is Williams’ debut novel, its so well put-together. It jumps across locations and narrators seamlessly, and the characters are all fully fleshed out. I did find myself wanting some of the narrators to carry on, but there isn’t much of a sense of loss once the next section starts.
I’m really glad that I read this, Williams’ writing is beautiful, and reading historical fiction – where I usually wouldn’t – was actually really nice; it was something completely different and meant that my brain could recover from the heartbreak of Sophie Stark.
Landfalls is available in the UK from the 22nd October.
Disclaimer* – I was sent Landfalls by Little, Brown to read and review, but all opinions and writing are, as always, all my own.