Freefall

A Divine Comedy

Fiction - Womens
247 Pages
Reviewed on 05/29/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Freefall: A Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie explores the complicated relationships between a group of four women. When Tillie, Daddy, Sybil, and Moll were mere teenagers, they were inseparable and collectively known as the four Muskrateers. Together they moved from the sleepy town of Calgary, Canada to the “big smoke” of Toronto. In the early 1960s, they all delved deeply into the hedonistic lifestyle of the time: free love, drugs, alcohol, and rock and roll. Although in the ensuing years there was some contact between individual members of the group, they had never been together again as a group since those heady days in Toronto. As they approach their sixtieth birthdays, they decide it is time to get together, to have a reunion and to rekindle the old spirit of the Muskrateers. Each of the women has gone their own way in the forty years since Toronto and the reunion is a discovery of each other all over again. When Tillie, an installation artist, suggests they all travel to Venice in September for the Biennale, an artistic extravaganza, and perhaps Tillie’s last opportunity to make her “breakthrough” in the world of art, the women reluctantly agree to accompany her. Will they “re-find” the love and camaraderie they once had for each other in Venice, and perhaps more importantly, will they discover their true selves and make the “golden years” of their lives still to come more memorable and ultimately successful?

Freefall is a truly superb piece of literature. Author Lily Iona MacKenzie has delightfully drawn these four women as characters reminiscent of stories of male mid-life crises. Seldom though have we had the opportunity to delve into the feminine psyche in such a detailed way as this author approaches it. All four of her characters are archetypal in many ways and have diverged totally from the fun-loving, free young women we initially meet in Toronto in the ’60s. Tillie, as the quintessential free-spirit, rides through this journey of self-discovery on the wings of her past, her present, and her future. At times she has conformed to “normality” but she has tried to remain true to her art form and her persona as the poor and struggling artist. What I particularly enjoyed about this story was the evocative language and writing style of the author. She manages to so totally embrace the reader and absorb them into these four different and quirky characters that one is often left shaking one's head and saying, “Hell, yeah, I can identify with that feeling.” MacKenzie achieves what all authors seek to achieve; she invites her readers to identify with one particular character and ask themselves, is that me? The reader is constantly challenged to consider their own position in life and compare the choices made by the characters to their own choices in life and to ask the question 'should or could I have done things differently or better?' Although listed as women’s literature, this book should not be pigeonholed in one category. It is a fantastic read for all ages and all sexes. I can highly recommend it.

K.C. Finn

Freefall: A Divine Comedy is a work of fiction in the women’s fiction and literary style sub-genres, and was penned by author Lily Iona MacKenzie. Written for adult readers, the work contains some sexual scenes but is largely a positive and expressive work about the wild journey of life. The central protagonist is Tillie Bloom, who brings together three close friends from her past in an extended reunion in the beautiful city of Venice. As Tillie explores the winding streets and hidden secrets of the Italian city on the water, so her dear friends explore their own life journeys and assess whether they have really gotten all out of life that it has to offer.

Reflective, poignant and empowering despite some dark truths which are explored and revealed, author Lily Iona MacKenzie has crafted a superb work of literary women’s fiction. So often women’s fiction focuses on the young and their choices, so it was wonderful to see the concept of aging explored, and the idea that one can still pursue those freedoms regardless of their age and the expectations put upon us by society. The four central figures experience art with poignant descriptions and intelligent summations that showcase the author’s love for the city and the subject matter, leaning into the literary format to express such magic expertly. Beyond this, the plot stretches into contemplative scenes and surprising moments of high drama, taking us through the twists of a truly unpredictable ride. Overall, Freefall: A Divine Comedy is a highly recommended read for one and all.

Deborah Lloyd

Tillie Bloom and three friends schedule a four-day reunion in Whistler, Canada. They were close-knit friends in the ’50s and ’60s, and each was approaching her 60th birthday in the year 1999. Each one had taken a different path – Tillie lived a bohemian artist lifestyle, creating installations; Daddy had been a radical feminist, now real estate agent; Moll, a housewife and mother, loved to hike in the Canadian woods; Sybil, with her husband, owned homes in Whistler, Vancouver and Venice. She is also a chain smoker, with a constant cough and a spot on her lung. Tillie convinced them to join her in Venice for the Biennale, a unique art festival. The story is much more than a fun get-together for three old friends – each discovers truths about aging, death, men, feminism, art, the list goes on.

Lily Iona MacKenzie has written an exceptional, thought-provoking novel in Freefall: A Divine Comedy. While each of the four main characters is down-to-earth and relatable, there are also aspects of magic realism intertwined within the plot. Black Madonna and Bird are unforgettable in the ways they “appear” to the women. Tillie’s relationship with an Italian priest is intriguing, from the aspects of the institutional church and its history, as well as a much broader understanding of spirituality. There are moments of pain and moments of pure joy captured in the story – not unlike life itself. Freefall: A Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie is a well-written compilation of interesting personalities, funny scenarios, and imaginative art!