A series of guest reviews on inspiring work, old and new. In the second of the series, Caroline Finnerty reviews The Fallout by Margaret Scott.
We usually hear the term ‘The Fallout’ in reference to the aftermath of the economic crash, however the clever title of Margaret Scott’s second novel, deals with the fallout amongst a group of colleagues in fictional bank DKB during the early years of the global financial meltdown.
The story opens with the arrival of two registered letters: one is addressed to Declan the Managing Director and the other to Geraldine the HR director. We are left in the dark as to the contents of those letters but soon it is revealed that Olivia, a long-serving member of staff, walked out of her job one day. We are left to guess what drove Olivia to leave in such an abrupt manner and the story unfolds through reporter style as Olivia’s colleagues are interviewed by the HR department to get to the bottom of what really happened.
Scott really captures the cutthroat corporate environment, the every man/woman for themselves attitude that can often prevail in these types of workplaces. She also shines the spotlight on the pressure and the day-to-day juggling that mothers in particular can face when they return to the workplace.
This is a book about the lives of ordinary people affected by the economic crisis. There are the stories of the people working all hours to pay negative-equity laden mortgages, afraid to say no to an increasing workload in case they find themselves made redundant. It also touches on the ego-crisis of a once successful, flashy, alpha-male Gavin, who reluctantly finds himself in the position of stay-at-home dad as his wife Leona takes on the mantle of breadwinner. Or take Mary, a loyal employee who has been overlooked for promotion in the past and now has a bone to pick. Is it fair that her colleagues who are mothers get to leave early to collect their children, yet because she is childless, she is expected to stay late and pick up the pieces?
Scott cleverly structures the story so that we don’t find out what actually happened to Olivia and the contents of the two registered letters until the very end. And dare I say it but is the ending left open for a potential sequel?
To quote the character of Leona, “It takes a certain kind of woman, with a certain drive and focus, to be able to maintain the same level of career after she’s had children, to the one she had before children.” This is the theme that is debated at the heart of this novel – can us women really have it all?
Publisher details on The Fallout Here
Caroline Finnerty is the author of the books ‘In a Moment’, ‘The Last Goodbye’ and ‘Into The Night Sky’ and ‘My Sister’s Child’. She has also had the pleasure of compiling ‘If I was A Child Again’, a non-fiction collection of stories from some of Ireland’s best writers, journalists and TV personalties, with all royalties being donated to Barnardos.