In 1952 two young lovers meet, in secret, at the beautiful Southern C ross theatre in the very heart of London’s West End. Their relationship is made up of clandestine meetings and stolen moments because there is someone who will make them suffer if he discovers she is no longer ‘his’. But life in the theatre doesn’t always go according to plan and tragedy and heartache are waiting in the wings for all the players . . .
Almost seventy years later, a new production of When the Curtain Falls arrives at the theatre, bringing with it Oscar Bright and Olive Green and their budding romance. Very soon, though, strange things begin to happen and they learn about the ghost that’s haunted the theatre since 1952, a ghost who can only be seen on one night of the year. Except the ghost is appearing more often and seems hell bent on sabotaging Oscar and Olive. The young couple realise they need to right that wrong from years gone by, but can they save themselves before history repeats itself and tragedy strikes once more?
When did I read this book?: All in one day on December 13th. (This seems to be a trend for me with Carrie’s books…)
Where did I read this book?: In the library at Wheaton. It was towards the end of finals week but I was done with work and wasn’t leaving campus until that night. I didn’t want to just sit in my room alone all day, so I went to the library with my friends who were still working on finals and read while they typed away on their essays. Definitely felt strange being in a college library and reading something purely for fun!
Why did I read this book?: A dear friend gave me this book for my birthday (the same friend with whom I saw Carrie perform live in London while abroad!) and I couldn’t wait to read it. Plus, her books are perfect for reading all in one huge chunk.
- Although the romance was a little over-the-top for me at times, there were also moments where it felt incredibly real, particularly regarding how muddy and confusing dating can get. There was a nice balance between a classic “star-crossed lovers” type romance in the past plot line and a more nuanced, complicated, bittersweet romance in the present plot line.
- Speaking of plot lines, I really enjoyed the intertwining stories of the old case and the new cast of the play that the novel revolves around. Discovering the parallels between them was really fun, and learning the details of the full back story made what was happening in the present plot line a lot more meaningful. I think this was a great way to add depth and intrigue to this novel’s main premise.
- Perhaps my favorite thing about this novel is how real Olive’s emotions feel. I’m not usually one to cry while reading–watching movies is an entirely different story–but I actually found myself tearing up a few times while reading this novel. Carrie captures what it feels like to be let down time and time again by someone you thought cared about you. While it was immensely sad to read during certain scenes, it was also surprisingly reassuring; in a way, it’s nice to know that other people have felt the same way at some point in their lives.
- Last but not least, I really loved how you could just feel that Carrie was in her element while writing this novel. As a professional actress on the West End, Carrie is no stranger to cast dynamics backstage, what it’s like to live based on a stage schedule, or the pressure of constantly being scrutinized by the public eye. When the Curtain Falls just exudes Carrie to me, and for this among many reasons I’d say that it is her best novel yet.
- While I adored the story of this novel, the writing style was not quite my cup of tea. Some phrases and sentences sounded a little off, as though they could have benefited from another round of editing.
- As much as I enjoyed the realistic aspects of the romance, there were nevertheless still parts that were a bit too “insta-love”-ish for me. Yet perhaps this is a problem not so much with Carrie’s novel but more so with the genre itself and what I was in the mood to read at the time. There’s only so much realism that can go into the development of a fictional relationship in a few hundred pages, so I suppose some element of this kind of portrayal may always exist. (Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think about this topic!)
Again, I would absolutely argue that When the Curtain Falls is Carrie Hope Fletcher’s best novel to date. From ghosts and dark theatre lore to modern celebrityhood, romance, and life on stage, this novel encompasses topics and twists that I never saw coming. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick but emotional, exciting read–especially if you’re already a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher in general!
What are your thoughts on this novel or any of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s other books? Do you think that some degree of “insta-love” is inherent in fictional romance? Let me know in the comments section below!