“Her writing is both vividly descriptive and surprisingly insightful.”
“It’s the three-dimensional men, women, and children who populate her fiction that I’ll remember for a very long time.”
—Nancy Pearl’s Picks
Following the phenomenal success of her novels Love Walked In and Belong to Me, New York Times bestselling author Marisa de los Santos returns with Falling Together, an emotionally resonant, powerfully moving, and pitch perfect novel about friends, family, and love. Truly modern women’s fiction at its finest, this is the unforgettable tale of a remarkable friendship that ended abruptly, only to be resurrected in great need years later at a college reunion, launching three formerly devoted companions and reluctant family members alike on a sobering, enlightening journey across the world and through the past. Brimming with the author’s trademark wit, vivid prose, and captivating characterizations, Falling Together brilliantly explores our deepest human connections and confirms Marisa de los Santos as one of America’s most exciting contemporary novelists.
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Amazon Exclusive Essay: Marisa de los Santos on Falling Together
I am an incorrigible homebody. I like my own pillow, my own imperfect showerhead, my coffee and pizza and bagel shops, my little rituals. I am quite old lady-ish about it. I like to write in—and only in—my radically unbeautiful office (I share it with guinea pigs). I like to drive my kids to swimming. At night, the moment when I shut my book, turn off my bedside table light, and know that everyone is sleeping under the same roof, our roof, is as close to a state of grace as I ever hope to come. I have always been this person.
So it is probably not surprising that, until now, my writing has stuck close to home, as well. In the first two novels, my characters did a little meandering but rarely outside of the 95 corridor, never outside of the country. They needed no passports; they never suffered jet lag. And now, with Falling Together, what have I done but put Will, Augusta, Jason, and my poor aviophobic Pen on airplane after airplane and sent them clear across the world? What was I thinking? I was thinking about the story, mostly, and that these were people who, each in her or his own way needed to go in quest of something (apart from Augusta, who has everything she needs). Also, I was thinking that the Philippines, where my father grew up, is too beautiful, too much a part of the landscape of my heart not to write about.
I visited the Philippines for the first time when I was 22 and on Christmas Day, woke up to voluminous sunshine, enfolding heat, a houseful of relatives, and a roasted suckling pig, pointy-eared, tiger’s eye-orange, and smelling like bliss. I was not in Kansas (or Virginia) anymore. I rode in dazzlingly painted jeepneys; I visited roadside fruit stands as resplendent as parade-floats and cemeteries in which people laughed, ate, and talked as though they were in their own living rooms and the gravestones were furniture or friends. I ate a lot: the little fists of bread called Elordes after the boxer; rice sticky with coconut milk; fish with blue bones like a secret; fruit shaped like sea anemones, hedgehogs, brains; heavenly, palm-sized mangoes with flesh you can scoop like custard.
Amid all of these discoveries, the best part was the people, a branch (or palm frond) of my family tree that I had only seen in glimpses. Now, this family surrounded me. I learned that traits I thought were uniquely my father’s—having conversations with his eyebrows, a brusque, instinctive generosity that shrugged off thanks—were family or cultural traits. I learned that home is a word that can stretch. Since that first visit, I’ve been back many times since, especially since my parents retired there six years ago, and every time, home stretches to include something new: a coral reef, a helper’s bewitching baby, a soup made of mung beans, a tiny tarsier’s enormous eyes.
In Falling Together, Pen goes to the Philippines in search of her friend, but I think she finds more than that. She sits in a banca boat with a school of jackfish shoaling beneath it and thinks, awestruck, “All this time, every second: this.” She experiences the world as big and small at the same time. While I sit at my desk, drive my children around, sleep under my roof, all the time, every second, there is another version of home, my home, vibrantly alive and unfolding itself thousands of miles away. The least I could do was put it in a book.
A Look Inside Falling Together
Click on the images below to open larger versions.
|Alona Palms: This endless pool is at the beach resort that inspired the fancy one where part of Falling Together is set.||Charles and Tarsier: The author’s son in the tarsier sanctuary with a tiny friend.||Chocolate Hills: The famous hills in Bohol, from the same overlook where Jason bursts into tears and Pen comforts him.|
It's been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can't refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey around the world, with Pen's five-year-old daughter and Cat's hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.
With her trademark wit, vivid prose, and gift for creating authentic, captivating characters, Marisa de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connections.
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