The latest edition in Carrie Hope Fletcher’s book empire, When The Curtain Falls (the same title as her debut album) is all about theatre and romance (aka, my dream). The book follows two young lovers, Oscar Bright and Olive Green as they meet backstage whilst performing in a revival of a show in which tragedy struck 50 years earlier.
Through a series of flashbacks and memories, we discover what happened to the original lovers, Fawn Burrows and Walter Brown, and whether tragedy is set to strike again. With heartache, tragedy, theatre and a little bit of magic, When The Curtain Falls is the perfect read to wrap you up and transport you to the glittering lights of the West End.
Fletcher’s writing is lyrical but easy to read. Reading her books feel as though you’re listening to a friend talk. When The Curtain Falls especially has a relaxed feel to it.
In a previous review of All That She Can See I wrote that Fletcher’s writing has a theatrical feel, this is obviously even more evident in this story which is all about the stage, performing and backstage antics. There is a whole host of stagey references which any avid theatre fan will love spotting, I especially loved the fact that the first musical Olive saw was Beauty and the Beast which was my first too.
I also found the section at the start where Olive is talking about being in the ‘theatre world’ and the ‘real world’ very interesting and relatable. When you go to shows a lot and are part of the theatre scene it feels like it’s the only thing that exists and that everyone knows everyone but once you go back to the ‘real world’ very few people have the same connections.
The same with theatre stars, at their theatre they are famous, signing autographs and standing for photos but once they turn the corner they blend into the crowd and normal people wouldn’t bat an eyelid seeing them. This ramble has very little relevance to this review, other than saying that it’s very clever how Carrie has worked tidbits of the musical theatre world into the story without making it overbearing or factual.
The romance between the lead couple is extremely sweet, if at times cringey. You can almost see the way the pair look at one another and at times it feels like we’re invading a private moment whilst we read. The mirrors between the 1952 relationship and the current one are well written and interesting to see. All the characters are well developed and I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone, especially Tamara, is based on anyone Carrie has come across in her career.
When The Curtain Falls is a theatre fans dream book. With stagy references, a beautiful romance and some unexpected plot twists, there’s not much more you could ask for in a book. This is certainly my favourite of Carrie’s novels and I hope she continues to include theatre in her work. It’s clear how much passion and love she has for the stage and it really comes across in her heartfelt writing.