Paul Binding

Leaving Women and Children Behind

Sudden Rain


Simon & Schuster 448pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

One November Thursday in the early Seventies two men independently leave Los Angeles to take revolutionary aerospace projects to NASA, in the hope of a contract. One, Tom Fallon, has every confidence in what he’s offering, just as he has confidence in his own ebullient personality. His private life should have promoted in him rather more self-doubt. His wife Nedith is an isolated, self-dramatising neurasthenic; his brilliant 23-year-old son Pete, a marine biologist, has just gone through a divorce after mere months of marriage and refuses to discuss why with anybody. Further, Tom has a clandestine (as he thinks) relationship with a woman outside his social milieu, Hallie (‘Mrs C’), who serves in the hosiery department of a big store and gives him grateful devotion, if within narrow parameters. Rival Jim Holman’s life is as different from Tom’s as his personality. Workaholic, fuelled by ambition, easily irritated (especially by his lazy teenage son), he enjoys a comfortable domestic life, and his wife Cynny (intelligent, reflective, strong) seems to embody traditional feminine virtues while being imaginatively open to the currents of life around her. During the two men’s absence from LA, a period of only four days, much is to change, and we will be concerned with the women and children left behind rather than with Tom and Jim themselves. Yet a great deal of what takes place can be attributed both to those aspects of their characters which distinguish them and to those which they share – pre-eminently the middle-class American male’s elevation of work and doing well to heights that totally dwarf the intimate life, a priority with which, sadly, their female partners often, only too readily, concur.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,