Summary and book reviews of Landfalls by Naomi Williams

Landfalls

by Naomi J. Williams

Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2016, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sinéad Fitzgibbon

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

By turns elegiac, profound, and comic, Landfalls reinvents the maritime adventure novel for the twenty-first century.

In her wildly inventive debut novel, Naomi J. Williams reimagines the historical La Pérouse expedition, a voyage of exploration that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

Deeply grounded in historical fact but refracted through a powerful imagination, Landfalls follows the exploits and heartbreaks not only of the men on the ships but also of the people affected by the voyage - natives and other Europeans the explorers encountered, loved ones left waiting at home, and those who survived and remembered the expedition later. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and is set in a different part of the world-ranging from London to Tenerife, Alaska to remote South Pacific islands and Siberia, and eventually back to France. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing tale of the high seas, scientific exploration, human tragedy, and the world on the cusp of the modern era.



ONE

ITEMS FOR EXCHANGE

London, April 1785

Plausibility

He always forgets how unpleasant the crossing from Calais is. He's never once made the trip without encountering inclement weather, contrary winds and tides, unexplained delays, seasick fellow travelers, surly packet captains, or dishonest boatmen waiting to extort the passengers ashore. This time it's all of the above. By the time he reaches Dover, he has, of course, missed the stagecoach to London. He spends the night at the Ship Hotel, where he endures a hard, flea-ridden bed and a neighbor with a wet, defeated cough.

It's not an auspicious start to the journey. But Paul-Mérault de Monneron is not given to superstition. The next day brings springlike weather, a passable meal from the hotel kitchen, the stagecoach ready to leave on time, and an unsmiling but efficient coachman who gives the correct change. The only other passenger inside the coach is a man Monneron recognizes from the packet; the poor man...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

For all that, however, this novel is much more than simply a recounting of the tale of two French ships lost at sea over two centuries ago. Landfalls is also a very human story. Revealing her innate understanding of the human condition, Williams ensures many of mankind's less attractive qualities and foibles jostle for space alongside our more noble traits – the pride, arrogance and recklessness of the men aboard ship are juxtaposed with acts of astonishing bravery, empathy, loyalty, friendship and love.   (Reviewed by Sinéad Fitzgibbon).

Full Review (745 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Williams does a masterly job with her descriptions of the officers, sailors, scientists, and people they meet, explaining a colorful, vibrant bit of maritime history in the age of discovery.

Booklist

Starred Review. Full of period sensibilities, particularly the Enlightenment-era urge to go forth and explore new domains, the novel is alternately charming, invigorating, and heartbreaking, and always thoughtful and humane.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Literary art of the first order, intelligent and evocative in the way of the best of historical fiction.

Author Blurb Lynn Freed, author of The Servants' Quarters
Here is an historical novel so thrilling in the reading, so richly colored and true to life that, reaching the end, I found myself going back to begin it again. I don't ask for more from a book.

Author Blurb Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea
This is a daring novel deftly written. In Landfalls, Naomi J. Williams conjures entire worlds, both external and internal, with remarkable dexterity, leaping nimbly from setting to setting and heart to heart, assembling a book every bit as moving and wondrous as the journey it recreates.

Author Blurb Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
Landfalls strikes that rare and perfect balance between being a meticulously researched and utterly trustworthy historical account on the one hand, and a damn good story peopled with highly complex emotionally recognizable characters on the other.

Author Blurb Lucy Corin, author of One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses
In elegant, restrained prose deftly balanced with wit and warmth, Williams moves from mystery to mystery, revealing and concealing in waves.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The French Enlightenment

The intellectually febrile period between the early 1600s and the late 1700s which saw an unsurpassed expansion in humankind's understanding of the world around us, particularly in the arenas of science (especially physics), and social and political philosophy, later came to be known as The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason or simply, The Enlightenment. The term signifies what was seen as an emergence from a long period of cognitive darkness, where superstitions and ignorance abounded, into the light of knowledge and awareness.

The Enlightenment was promoted by radical thinkers and philosophers in the coffee houses of Scotland and England, before spreading throughout Europe, and particularly to France. The main ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Landfalls, try these:

  • Barkskins jacket

    Barkskins

    by Annie Proulx

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    From Annie Proulx - the Pulitzer Prize-­ and National Book Award - winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world's forests.

  • The Midnight Watch jacket

    The Midnight Watch

    by David Dyer

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    David Dyer's The Midnight Watch is a powerful and dramatic debut novel - the result of many years of research in Liverpool, London, New York, and Boston, and informed by the author's own experiences as a ship's officer and a lawyer.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...
  • Book Jacket: Piecing Me Together
    Piecing Me Together
    by Renee Watson
    Race and class in American culture certainly dominate the news right now. These two things seem to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

In war there are no unwounded soldiers

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -