The story of four old friends reuniting to contemplate their 60th birthdays turns into a marvelous, magical mystery tour with plenty of surprises and laughs along the way. An enchanting exploration of aging, art, philosophy, feminism, and motherhood, written with style and a heavy dose of humor. A Divine Comedy, indeed!
During a four-day reunion in Whistler, B.C., Tillie Bloom, a wacky installation artist, reconnects with three women she had hung out with in the late '50s and early '60s. While in Whistler, secrets surface and a near death experience occurs during a hike, both of which bind the women at a deeper level.Their new intimacy prompts them to celebrate the millennium as well as their approaching sixtieth birthdays in Italy. So a few weeks later, Tillie travels to Venice to have an extended reunion with her friends. While the women assume they're in Venice to vacation and deepen their relationships, Tillie has a hidden agenda: she intends to crash the Venice Biennale, hoping to find a larger audience for her art. Cupid's arrows complicate her goals when she and an Italian priest fall for each other. The reflective quality of Venice's canals also create unexpected changes in the women,
causing them to turn inward. They all end up with a fresh take on themselves and their lives. Tillie, in particular, experiences a deeper understanding of herself. But will it take her on a path she's ready to travel, and will Venice finally give her the recognition she seeks as an artist?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Freefall: A Divine Comedy was patterned after Dante’s work in which a man traverses Hell to reach Heaven. The book brings together installation artist Tillie Bloom and her three friends, Sybil, Daddy, and Moll, all nearing the big 6-0. After many years apart, they reunite on Sybil’s place, a posh vacation home in Whistler, British Columbia. Here, they each reflect on their lives. Flashbacks provide backstory for each character and as the readers moves into the present, we see how satisfied or dissatisfied each woman is with her life. The urgency they feel as they reach the end of their lives is heightened when, while hiking, they come face-to-face with a grizzly. As their get-together winds down, Tillie convinces her friends to travel r to Venice, Italy for the Biennale, when she hopes to finally hit it big with her art installations. I am a woman of an age this book should appeal to and found parts of it enjoyable, in particular the use of the Black Madonna and other art-history related items as well as second wave feminism during the 1960s. The women are openly sexual, not sexualized, which is nice—maybe because they are products of the Age of Aquarius. At the same time, the writing felt a bit strained, particularly towards the end when snakes, termites, and pigeons assume metaphoric aspects, and the magical-realism bits seem over-the-top. Other times, particularly during parts about religion, seemed repetitive.