The Rain Before It Falls by Jonathan Coe - review by Pamela Norris

Pamela Norris

Fragility of Happiness

The Rain Before It Falls


Viking 277pp £17.99

On a humid afternoon in the Auvergne, two adults discuss the prospects for a downpour. Rebecca says she likes summer rain. A small girl, Thea, thoughtfully points out, ‘I like the rain before it falls.’ Rosamond, the second adult, is quick to correct her. ‘Before it falls, it isn’t really rain. It’s just moisture, really. Moisture in the clouds.’ Thea is unperturbed. ‘That’s why it’s my favourite,’ she tells Rosamond. ‘Something can still make you happy, can’t it, even if it isn’t real?’ 

Jonathan Coe’s eighth novel is a subtle meditation on reality and the fragility of happiness. It is also rather different from the books with which he has made his name. The prize-winning What a Carve Up! (1994) was one of the funniest and most innovative novels of the Nineties, and

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