20 reviews

Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley

Published: 2016-05-31
Hardcover : 400 pages
6 members reading this now
24 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 20 of 20 members
FROM THE AWARD-WINNING CREATOR OF FARGO COMES "ONE THE YEAR'S BEST SUSPENSE NOVELS" (NEW YORK TIMES). On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable ...
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FROM THE AWARD-WINNING CREATOR OF FARGO COMES "ONE THE YEAR'S BEST SUSPENSE NOVELS" (NEW YORK TIMES). On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
Was it by chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something more sinister at work? A storm of media attention brings Scott fame that quickly morphs into notoriety and accusations, and he scrambles to salvage truth from the wreckage. Amid trauma and chaos, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy grows and glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, morality, and the inextricable ties that bind us together. Kristin Hannah raves, "Noah Hawley really knows how to keep a reader turning the pages... a complex, compulsively readable thrill ride of a novel."

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of June 2016: Noah Hawley’s new novel begins with the crash of a private plane carrying some very influential people on board. The only survivors are the young son of a media mogul and an obscure painter who, given his less than elevated status, seems like a wild card from the start. What happened on that flight? Why did the plane go down and if it was intentional, who was the target? With each chapter of Before the Fall, Hawley peels back another layer of the lives of those onboard that fatal flight meanwhile, the media speculation and accusations in the days after the crash threaten to overwhelm truth and decency. The end is surprising, even a little bit of a “huh.” moment at first, but it’s an ending that sinks in and starts the wheels turning on everything that came before it, which, to me, is the hallmark of an unforgettable story. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review


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Discussion Questions

1. Every person on the plane has experienced sadness or difficulties in the past. Do you think that, universally, everyone has his/her own sad story, or is this a unique trait of this particular set of characters?

2. What different meanings could the title BEFORE THE FALL signify?

3. “True horror, you see, comes not from the savagery of the unexpected, but from the corruption of everyday objects, spaces” (363). Do you agree? Do you see this idea reflected elsewhere in the book?

4. In what ways is this novel a traditional thriller? In what ways does it bend the conventions of the thriller genre?

5. The 24-hour news cycle is ubiquitous in our culture. How is this phenomenon portrayed in BEFORE THE FALL, and how does it make you rethink what we see on television every day?

6. BEFORE THE FALL alternates between the present day --- the investigation into the plane crash and Scott’s experience --- and flashbacks to each passenger’s life. As you read more of the flashbacks, how does your understanding of the past inform or change your understanding of the present day narrative?

7. “He [Scott] too is striving for truth. Or maybe he alone”(356). Much of the book revolves around a quest for the truth. What truths are debated or searched for during the course of this book? Do you believe that truth is objective? Do you agree with Bill Cunningham that “people have a right to know” the truth (388)?

8. Noah Hawley is well-known for his work in film and television. In what scenes do you see this reflected in the book?

9. “Everyone has their path. The choices they’ve made. How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery” (1). Much of the plot hinges on chance encounters or small decisions. What are some seemingly unimportant choices characters make that turn out to be pivotal? Do you see this sort of kismet in real life?

10. How is the concept of heroism explored throughout the book? What separates heroes from other people? How does an ordinary person become a hero?

11. After the plane crash, Scott meets many different people --- JJ, Eleanor, Doug, Layla, Gus, Bill --- who want different things from him. How do these characters affect Scott and his personal journey?

12. In many ways, Scott has been a passive observer rather than an active participant in life. In what ways does the crash change how he relates to the world around him and his sense of self?

Suggested by Members

What would David Bateman think of the way Bill Cunningham covered the story?
Like Dr. Frankenstein, did Mr.Bateman create a monster?
by [email protected] (see profile) 03/15/19

We spent some time debating the believability and possibility of the long, cold rescue swim.
by marcid (see profile) 08/18/17

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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by Kelli S. (see profile) 05/05/21

by Barbara D. (see profile) 05/23/20

by Mindy S. (see profile) 02/28/20

  "Before the Fall"by Nancy S. (see profile) 09/13/19

Gripping and suspenseful. I hated to put the book down, I wanted to keeping reading until the very end!

by sandi j. (see profile) 09/13/19

by Abby U. (see profile) 08/06/19

by casey c. (see profile) 06/21/19

by Monica H. (see profile) 05/16/19

by Marlene D. (see profile) 05/07/19

  "News Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder"by javier f. (see profile) 03/15/19

What struck me as most true about the book is how reporting has become so blatantly political. The facts of a story are twisted, and skewed in a way that supports a news agency's particular political position.... (read more)

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