Joy by Jonathan Lee - review by Tom Williams

Tom Williams

After the Fall



William Heinemann 308pp £12.99

On a Friday afternoon, a 33-year-old lawyer, Joy Stephens, is presented as a new partner to her colleagues, after which she falls forty feet from a platform and hits a marble floor. Jonathan Lee’s novel details the single day in Joy’s life that leads to this event, delicately uncovering the inner existence of this ambitious professional. Lee intersperses this story with direct, first-person testimonies from Joy’s friends and colleagues, each speaking to a counsellor in the wake of the fall, all exercised by the question: ‘Did she jump?’ These four speakers are close to Joy in different ways, or as close as they are likely to get: Dennis, Joy’s husband, an eccentric academic; Peter, her brash, hedonistic colleague; Barbara, Joy’s ever-complaining PA; and Samir, her earnest personal trainer.

Lee is a lawyer turned novelist, and it is perhaps unsurprising that he provides such a diseased portrait of a law firm. The sleek, panel-lit offices of Hanger, Slyde & Stein are caught between stress and boredom, fizzing with the ‘electrical currents of whispered secrets’. Some of the workers have

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