Pen-L Publishing released my novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy on January 1, 2019.
Synopsis: Freefall: A Divine Comedy
Freefall: A Divine Comedy introduces Tillie Bloom, a wacky installation artist, who reconnects with three former friends—women she had hung out with in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s—in a four-day reunion at Whistler, B.C. The new intimacy they experience prompts them to celebrate their approaching sixtieth birthdays together, as well as the millennium, in Venice, Italy, where two thirds of the book take place. During this time, secrets surface, their stories binding them closer together.
5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!
Reviewed By Grant Leishman
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.
Back cover blurbs:
Can the story of four women turning sixty be called a coming-of-age novel? Because that’s what Freefall is. Part pain, part humor, part magical, and part philosophical, this is an enchanting story about old friends reuniting to try to find themselves as they struggle with thoughts on aging, religion, motherhood, men, art, and death. A delightful trip in every respect, with plenty of surprises and laughs along the way. A Divine Comedy, indeed! Yes! —Mark Willen, author of the novels Hawke’s Point and Hawke’s Return
Hilarious, spiritual, and sensual, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s wonderful novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy takes you on a rollicking ride spanning three countries (San Francisco Bay Area, Whistler, B.C., Venice, Italy) and four decades. These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. —Laurie Ann Doyle, award-winning author of World Gone Missing
Reviewed by Diane Donovan, Mid West Book Review
When four female old friends join together on a four-day reunion to celebrate their long-time friendship, they didn’t expect long-held secrets to emerge, nor a new mystery that engrosses and challenges them. But that’s what they get when a hike and meeting in Whistler, British Columbia juxtaposes the threat of death and new intimacy with the long-held perceptions that forces each 60-year-old to re-examine her life, choices, and friendships.
Powered by the ambitious dreams of installation artist Tillie Bloom, the women find themselves undertaking a journey of self-discovery normally relegated to teens entering adulthood. At this stage in their lives, they didn’t expect to continue experiencing the world in new ways. Nor did they anticipate making choices that would change themselves and their perceptions of one another.
Lily Iona MacKenzie flushes out her characters by moving between past and present, allowing readers to contrast their lives, changing personalities, and reactions to life. Her attention to details both within each character and between them helps define their motivations, influences, and interrelationships both with each other and with life.
It’s unusual to receive an ‘adventure’ focus in a story about older women, but Lily Iona MacKenzie does a fine job of embedding the feel of a coming-of-age novel with characters who are old enough to know more about life, but not too staid to accept that further changes may be in order for them.
Descriptions are often thought-provoking and give pause for thought with their edgy, adroit observations: “Tillie watches a snail chomp away at a flower. It reminds her of how priests transform bread and wine into body and blood. She almost gags at the cannibalistic quality of the Eucharist, the communicant’s symbolic swallowing of Christ’s body. Yet it isn’t much different from the cannibalistic nature of art, the artist devouring everything in her path that helps express her vision – and art devouring the artist. Consuming each other.”
From a touch of romance to changing perspectives on mortality, Freefall: A Divine Comedy is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the genre of women’s literature. It’s a read that is especially recommended for older women who will be able to fully appreciate and relate to the sense of transformation, adventure, and interpersonal connections that these four women represent.