Descent, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


This wonderfully acute and unsettling novel charts the trajectory of a woman's life and a couple's relationship during the last decade of the 20th century.

Against a backdrop of the seismic nineties, and framed by two air disasters (Lockerbie late 1988 and the twin towers 9/11 2001), it's the story of Genevieve, psychiatric nurse, wife, mother, daughter, who's trying to keep a whole lot of stuff airborne while things fall apart, inside and out.

Her husband is a filmmaker, usually absent, at first on small-budget art films ("The Snow Queen") in out of the way places.

But, his career takes off, and suddenly he's making big budget star-vehicle movies (still "The Snow Queen") in exotic locations.

While her life narrows (babies, breastfeeding, builders), his expands: this is her narrative, addressed to him, trying to make sense of their lives and the forces - external and internal, family history and genetics, ambition and domesticity - which pull them apart.

Her work, which drives her nuts but keeps her sane, her anarchic friend and colleague Sid, and the sad, crazed women in her charge provide a hilarious, heartbreaking backdrop to a world going off the rails. Unputdownable, funny and sad, "Descent" marks the arrival of a talented new novelist.


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The story of a couple's relationship from the start of their marriage at the time of the Lockerbie Air disaster and ending after the attack on the Twin Towers. Some of the best descriptions of what the early days of motherhood are like, and how it is to be marooned with small children.

Also by Sabrina Broadbent