William Golding’s 1959 novel Free Fall is certainly not a love story, but it does contain some intense romance. Sammy Mountjoy relentlessly pursues Beatrice: ‘I want you, I want all of you, not just cold kisses and walks – I want to be with you and in you and on you’. Beatrice eventually submits to Sammy’s declarations of love and they become engaged. Then he meets Taffy.
Taffy and Sammy fall passionately in love at first sight. Sammy thinks she is ‘the prettiest girl I ever saw’, and they wordlessly take each other’s hand as they walk together for the first time. Both are engaged to other people but ‘recognised without a moment’s doubt’ that they could never let each other go. They make love on the first night, indifferent to consequences or propriety. Sammy doesn’t tell Beatrice about Taffy, although she can tell that something is wrong. She writes him letters, which he doesn’t answer.
In the meantime, Sammy and Taffy continue their affair and move in together. In a world being torn apart by war, Sammy thinks that ‘we were clinging to each other as though we were the only stable thing in an earthquake’. He asks Taffy to marry him, and she responds in typical fashion: ‘You cock an eye at another woman and I’ll have your guts for a girdle’. They get married ‘as an afterthought’, so fully are they wrapped in each other. They ‘made themselves a place between four walls’ and had a baby.
This relationship is a fictionalised account of Golding’s real-life romance with his wife, Ann. Golding and Ann met in 1939, and married five months after this meeting. Like Sammy and Taffy, both were engaged to other people. They were together until his death in 1993 and their daughter, Judy, recalls, ‘For the rest of their lives, they were always by far the most important people in the world to each other, bar none, absolutely none’.