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Fallen [Paperback]

David Maine
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2007
Beginning with the murder of Abel by his brother, Fallen rewinds through fury and jealousy, lust and despair, right back to the bite from the apple and mankind's first taste of shame. From the bones of this age-old tale, David Maine weaves a compulsively readable and startlingly modern human drama of love, betrayal and rage. We know the end of the story, but how did it really begin?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; New edition edition (1 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841958840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841958842
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,075,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Having appropriated such an old story it's a marvel that Maine can make it feel so fresh.' -- Independent on Sunday

'Maine turns a moralistic lesson into a psychological mystery.' -- Elena Seymenliyska, Guardian

'Mostly, the portrayal of Adam, Eve and their children is astonishing . . . [Maine's] crisp, beautiful prose is near flawless.' -- Sunday Times

Review

'Having appropriated such an old story it's a marvel that Maine can make it feel so fresh.'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and thought-provoking 21 Aug 2007
By Ben W
Format:Paperback
David Maine's novels are all based on well-known stories from the bible, but he always manages to avoid paraphrase and to present an interesting slant on an old story. In my opinion, this is the best of his novels thus far.
The standout feature is the clever way the book works backwards from the end of Cain's life to the banishment of Adam and Eve from "the Garden". Each chapter is like the unpeeling of an onion, casting enlightenment on the behaviour of characters in earlier (or should that be later) chapters. It is simple and effective, but not simplistic in the slightest. Building on this model, Maine has proven to be an exceptionally gifted story-teller. He builds compelling characters, pulsing with believable emotion, and addresses complex issues such as original sin, in a thoughtful and thought-provoking manner.
I would therefore recommend this book wholeheartedly, and can assure potential readers that whilst they will be encouraged to think, they shouldn't be offended, regardless of their religious persuasions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly amazing read! 10 April 2007
Format:Paperback
David Maine is a very rare person - someone with a truly exceptional talent for story-telling. Whether you think you know this story or not, Maine draws you powerfully and subtley into a timeless world, convincingly capturing the essence of man's often seemingly inexplicable behaviour. The characterisation is remarkable; it is impossible not to feel the humanity of each individual. I found this gem of a book by accident and immediately went out and bought everything else Maine has written. Everyone should read it, regardless of religious persuasion - it's not about God, it's about every man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 18 Jan 2010
By H
Format:Paperback
It's strange that such a well known story could be retold in such a way that you feel as though you've heard it for the first time all over again. It's such an inspiringly beautiful book, and because it's told backwards (which I think is a brilliant idea) it kills me that you know Cain has killed Abel and yet, because you're going backwards, you hear about him long after he's been killed - it's horrible that you begin to truly know him as a person and then realise he's already gone. It tears you apart.
This is one of the saddest stories and this telling of it is by far the most tragic and stunning of them all. A book truly worth reading.
I'm so jealous that I didn't write it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wow, what a great read! 5 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
I had forgotten that I had ordered this book and when It arrived, I had forgotten what it was even about!
However it didnt take me long to realise that this was a cracking read.
Putting a modern psychological perspective on the first man, woman and their sons takes real imagination and I have not read anything like this before.
Its not the first time that Ive read a book that works its way backwards(Sarah Waters-Nightwatch) and I remember not feeling altogether comfortable with the concept.
But with this book it worked perfectly (you can read it perfectly the other way too)Hugely enjoyable, darkly humourous read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning and surprisingly emotional account of humans' ultimate and inevitable failings 6 Dec 2005
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Even the world's very first family was seriously dysfunctional, or so argues David Maine in his imaginative, insightful second novel, FALLEN. In Maine's debut novel, 2004's THE PRESERVATIONIST, he focused on the Old Testament story of Noah's flood. Now, with FALLEN, Maine returns to the Book of Genesis from the very beginning, exploring the story of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, as well as the story of the world's first murder, when Adam and Eve's oldest son Cain killed his brother Abel.

In Maine's novel, Cain is bitter, angry and resentful, yet oddly sympathetic. Cursed to wander about until the end of his days, marked by God with a mark that ostensibly keeps him from harm but actually reveals his true identity (and its accompanying dread) to all he meets, Cain lacks any support beyond his small family.

As Cain's history is revealed, Maine grounds the young man's hatred of his father in larger family dynamics. Abel is the family golden boy, beloved by both God and by his parents. Cain, on the other hand, is despised for his skepticism and for his murder (according to Eve) of his stillborn twin brother in utero. Cain's crime can't be forgiven, perhaps, but Maine makes it possible to understand the circumstances that lead to such a shocking event in human history.

Although FALLEN lacks the multiple voices that enriched THE PRESERVATIONIST, it is no less compelling. What is most impressive is how Maine weaves, from a few short verses in Genesis, a fully fleshed novel that expands on the Biblical narrative while still remaining true to its source. Chances are that many readers will return to the original text after reading Maine's retelling.

The structure of Maine's novel is also inventive; in 40 chapters divided into four parts, Maine tells the story in reverse chronological order, beginning with a middle-aged Cain in exile and ending immediately following Adam and Eve's loss of paradise. Each section begins with the same chapter title as the last chapter in the previous section, and other chapter titles ("The Stranger," "The Conversation," "The Proposal") are repeated throughout, giving the impression of a highly structured poem, like a sonnet. The creativity and elegance of this approach reflect Maine's admirable control of his prose.

The result of this reverse chronological approach is a stunning and surprisingly emotional account of humans' ultimate and inevitable failings. We're reminded of the wider implications of Cain's crime in a disturbing scene where a young boy admits that he, too, committed murder solely because he was inspired by Cain's own actions. FALLEN, and the ideas it inspires, will resonate with all thoughtful readers, regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliations.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fall head over heels for Fallen 20 Sep 2005
By Marina Rabinovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While it remains a mystery who arranged the dust into the shape of that first man, after reading Fallen, I am convinced that it is David Maine who has breathed life into him, and all the flesh of his flesh. Weaving backwards, Maine begins with Cain as an aged, dying man and ends with the expulsion from Eden. He does not so much rewrite the stingy narrative but adds to it, writes in between it, swells it, and truly makes the word flesh. With an unparalleled elegance, Maine explores everything that the original author refused to reveal and the mythical characters upon whom Western civilization is based become painfully and wonderfully human. Adam is sincere, inadequate and afraid of rabbits; Abel is exasperating, innocent and bad with numbers; Cain is brooding, clever and tragically sensitive; Eve, with her "red hair spilling crazily across the green moss," Eve is like fire... passionate, exquisite and breathtakingly brave. Traveling backwards, working towards that fateful night, when under the thunder struck sky, Adam knew Eve and Eve knew hunger, Maine tells an incredible story of love, family, and learning to walk after the fall. Much like the mark on Cain's forehead that it opens with, Fallen will brand you forever, burn inside of you, heartbreakingly beautiful and unforgettable.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written 21 Sep 2005
By umi grigsby - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For a book with its fair share of murderers, rapists, and thieves, there are few characters in the Bible more hated than Cain. Even Eve, providing stiff competition by bearing the brunt of the blame for the expulsion from Eden, at the very least, will always be responsible for introducing mankind to sex. While religious theologians can wax poetic about the evils of notorious characters like Eve, Pontius Pilate and Judas, they have always been silent on the subject of Cain. On that, everyone is in agreement - Cain is the embodiment of evil. It is therefore an enormous feat of any writer to attempt to redraw this much-maligned biblical character as three-dimensional and complex. It is one that David Maine courageously takes on and accomplishes, breathing life into the characters of not only Cain, but also Abel, Adam and Eve. The novel, Fallen, takes us on a heartbreaking journey through the eyes of Cain, Abel, Adam and Eve meandering backwards from the eve of Cain's death to end with their eviction from Eden.

Every character is given the chance to tell their story through each of the four books: Cain is a tortured, lonely man being punished for an act he isn't sure was entirely of his own volition; Abel is a slightly self-righteous, innocent baffled by his death yet ready to forgive; Adam is bewildered and unprepared for his exile out of Eden but is fervently loyal to the God that banished him; and Eve endures the pain of her punishment with grace and provides her husband with the strength to survive through her passion and love.

Fallen is a beautifully written novel that challenges without offending even the most conservative of readers simply by revealing the humanity of these characters. There is no alternative but to sympathize with these familiar individuals that have been thrown into a new, unknown world where they must attempt to forge their own paths with the Almighty lurking in a distance offering cryptic guidance and at times, incomprehensible decisions. As Cain asks in the middle of the story, "Why would God create the perfect place then allow the Devil in it just to trick you?" The humanization of Cain throws into question whether the humans in the novel are all mice in a grand experiment and if their emotions and actions are self-governed or dictated by their Creator.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deft and Daring 12 Feb 2006
By Eric Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
David Maine is a master of prose, lending archaic stories a stark relevance and realism. In "The Preservationist," he took us into Noah's life and family. In "Fallen," he gives us a peek into the minds and motivations of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and perhaps even God himself.

With deft skill, Maine starts his story from Cain's perspective. As the narrative winds backwards through time to the Fall in the Garden--possibly losing some of its tension, since we know the outcome--we do find deeper insight into the lives of the first family. What modern family doesn't struggle with these same issues: conflict between teens and parents, sibling rivalry, and sins of the fathers (and mothers)? Maine makes these very issues seem pertinent to our own culture; his true magic is his ability to show that the biblical stories still have lessons to teach about our future.

There is one caveat I must mention. Maine chooses an uncertain approach to the root of man's disobedience (one mirrored by prudish leaders in church history), showing that Adam and Eve only experienced physical union after the Fall, as though their awareness of their nakedness is a sexual awareness alone. In fact, the biblical account mentions the "cleaving to one another" and "becoming one flesh" before the Fall, implying that its beauty and transcendence was a divine gift.

That aside, this is a wonderfully told story, full of beauty and rage and humanity. Maine's research and insights are woven throughout the narrative, and I can't wait to see which biblical account he dives into next.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking 29 Dec 2005
By MLPlayfair - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
FALLEN by David Maine is interesting on several levels. First, it's very well written. Second, its author dares to be both philosophical and funny. Finally, it's told backwards.

The book tells the biblical story of brothers Cain and Abel. It starts with Cain as an old man, reflecting on the meaning of life, and ends with the fall of his parents in the Garden of Eden. Because Maine takes us through the saga in reverse, his irony and clever humor catch us off guard in the way we think about the stories we know by rote: After Adam tells Abel how God created man, Cain makes sense of it by explaining to Abel that the tale is just a metaphor. Cain also finds fault with Adam's version of the fall of man: "This whole story makes no sense! Why would God create a perfect place and then allow the Devil in it, just to trick you? Why tell you not to do something when He could have just removed the tree, and so avoided the problem completely?" In Cain's world, the demanding, judgmental God does not come across well.

Cain's is an interesting point of view, in that he and his family are "all the people in the world." When he runs into a stranger, he can't figure out "where they come from ... people like us, only not us. I mean not our kin. It's confusing."

The book is about faith and guilt, doubting and accepting. The language is often pretty: "The rainy season comes, bringing with it long gray afternoons and lingering twilight as the sun pokes its fingers through the cloud's spent tatters, filling the landscape with ghostly golden pyramids."

This is a really thought-provoking book. It asks the questions many readers of Genesis have asked: Why did God show disfavor to Cain when Cain worked so hard? Who are Cain and Abel going to marry? And there are not always answers.
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