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Fall on Your Knees Hardcover – Apr 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684833204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684833200
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,239,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"MacDonald skillfully shifts the story backward and forward in time, giving it a mythic quality that allows dark, half-buried secrets to be gracefully and chillingly revealed" (New York Times)

"A whopper of a first novel... No fragmentation or contrived narrative devices confuse this hefty and engrossing tale" (Guardian)

"Stunning....The story is riveting, the characters achingly human, and the writing will take your breath away....[MacDonald] has leapt into the first rank of fiction writers" (Toronto Star) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A dazzling novel which takes us on a mythic journey through five generations of one family’s secrets, miracles, conflicts, births, deaths and extraordinary loves. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the first novel by Canadian author McDonald, and winner of a Commonwealth writer's award. I can see why, I read it in two sittings on flights between Sydney and Tokyo and Tokyo to London. I was hooked, I finished it and then wished it was longer so I could continue reading. The plot is fairly convuleted and I don't have time to explain it right now, suffice to say it is a thought provoking semi-Gothic story set in provincial Canada in the early decades of the twentieth century. It reminded me somewhat of Flannery O'Connor in parts. I eagerly await more from this remarkable author.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because of a recommendation from Oprah's book club, and it is her best yet.
This a gorgeous, intricate and truly thought-provoking story. The characters make your heart sad, sullen and soar by turns, and if you believe in 'love' at a very young age, this might challenge your ideas a bit. If you believe in the sanctity of the relationship and bond between a parent and a child, this is a crushing blow and eye opener to that belief. If you want to read a magnificently written, magnificent story, read Fall on your Knees. You'll read it again, and again.
Guaranteed pleasure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
A story about a family whose tragedies rival those of the doomed House of Atreus in Greek drama, set on Cape Breton Island, Canada. Following the death of his mother, James Piper leaves his drunken father and goes out into the world, an adolescent boy with a passion for learning, to make his money as a piano-tuner. He is doing well when he falls suddenly in love (or lust) with Materia, the 13-year-old daughter of Lebanese immigrants. The couple elope, and in true Verdian style Materia's father curses James and his marriage. Things immediately begin to go wrong - Materia is a very young, innocent girl - an instinctive musician, which frustrates the music-loving but not too musical James - but no intellectual, and unable to join him in plans for education and self-improvement. James soon loses all love for his wife, who luckily finds some kindly friends in their Jewish neighbours, who teach her to cook. When Materia and James's daughter is born, James obsessively targets all his love into her, determining that little Kathleen will become a star opera singer. Years pass, and James's passion for his daughter grows until - as the shrewd Materia notices - it reaches a dangerous level. Eventually, having prayed non-stop to the Virgin Mary, Materia is able to rekindle her husband's passion for her, and she has two more daughters, Frances and Mercedes. James, realizing that his feelings for Kathleen are now out of control, leaves to fight in World War I - he is eventually invalided out (having made various attempts to get himself killed) and on his return to Canada sends Kathleen to continue her training as a singer in New York, intending that they should never live together again.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a stunning book. It's pretty hard going in places, and I felt like the ending was a little out of place, but the characters, the build-up and the slow increments of what we understand are beautifully structured. The most impressive thing is that the book covers apalling things without ever needing to attach blame or emphasise them. They come to the forefront slowly and unavoidably, and are dealt with in such a human way - certainly in this novel, MacDonald's strength lies in her way of portraying humanity. A lot like Jeffrey Eugenides' 'Middlesex', in its interweaving of colour and race, new lands and old bigotry, and transgression.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Notlob on 9 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
I mourn the fact that I've just finished this book. It's a tale so epic I thought about it every time I was forced to put it down.

The events in this story are tragic beyond belief, but it's written so beautifully whole sections feel poetic. Every single character (and there are many) is a complete person, the reader climbs inside their head, reads their thoughts, feels what they touch. Reminds me a bit of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude-I think in that there is tragedy locked in with amazing imagery. If you love gracefully written novels read this!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tricky kidder on 1 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a great, great book. It should be better known in the UK and I will be recommending it to all my friends. It's basically a family saga in the Southern Gothic tradition, except set in a beautifully-evoked eastern Canada in the early part of the C20th. The plot has been well recapped elsewhere so I will just say that it principally deals with family relationships, especially those between sisters during their childhood & adolescence, and interracial relationships. The characters are all incredibly well developed and despite its length it's incredibly compelling.

People have complained that they found it depressing, but that's a far too reductive way of looking at it. It has harrowing moments because pretty much all the characters go through traumatic experiences, but it's not gratuitous in any way. There's plenty of joy too, and the description of first love in the final part of the book is possibly the best I have ever read. I also think that religion, cultural difference, race and class are well-observed. Overall this book is an incredibly moving and enriching experience. Some reference points from my own reading:

60% The Little Friend

20% Fried Green Tomatoes

10% Tipping The Velvet

10% Go Tell It On The Mountain

If you liked any of these books, go for this.
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