The Opposite Of Falling was another one of my holiday reads, I had bought it based on two things - firstly the gorgeous cover but mainly for the reason that I had read, and loved, the author's first book, Inside The Whale.
The Opposite Of Falling is a quite an ambitious novel in terms of subject and geographic material. Ursula Bridgewater is a woman of the upper classes living in Liverpool in the 1860's. She has experienced the calling off of an engagement and is seeking inspiration for what to do with the rest of her life. Ursula feels quite different to the other women of her class and era - she does not feel the need to get married and raise a family and she has a strong desire to "do something with her life";
All her life, Ursula Bridgewater had been building up to something. She felt it as a bubbling restlessness inside her, a straightness along her spine that occasionally came across as terseness, but which she did not really intend. She was of the opinion that one really ought to do something with one's life, especially if one had the necessary resources, but she had not yet fixed upon what this should be".
Ursula begins to explore her life's purpose through extensive travel, firstly through the UK and Europe and then over the seas to America. It is this trip to America which leads Ursula to employ a young female companion - Sally Walker, a young woman who has spent the majority of her life in a restrictive Catholic orphanage after the sudden death of her mother.
Sally and Ursula are two very different women - in both character and upbringing - but their combination is quite magical and I wish they had been brought together much earlier in the novel.
Once they arrive in America Ursula and Sally meet Toby O'Hara who runs hot air balloon rides over Niagara Falls during the day but is also working on a very different flying machine in his spare time as a way of maintaining a connection with his parents who are both deceased.
The Opposite Of Falling does feel like a very different book to Inside The Whale at first - there are more characters and settings to fit into the formula so it wasn't really until half way through the book that I felt I was in a Jennie Rooney novel in terms of the story (or stories) of the relationships. However, even though it took a little while to get into it it was well worth it once I did - the second half of the book is beautiful and the story of the connection between the main characters and the decisions they make in relation to their lives is one I will go back and read again.