Customer Reviews


20 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (8)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4.0 out of 5 stars The American Nightmare
After being really impressed (and challenged) by Patrick Flanery's debut novel Absolution which I read last month, I was really keen to get my hands on his second book. I'm pleased to say I enjoyed this one even more.

Fallen Land is a chronicle of huge ambitions and shattered dreams. It starts with the horrific lynching of a young black man falsely accused of...
Published 20 months ago by Denise4891

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It read to me like a bad movie script
It is alleged that when Samuel Goldwyn was asked about the message he was trying to convey in his movie, can’t remember which movie, he said "If I wanted to send a message, I'd use Western Union". Someone should’ve sent the author that message, maybe even using Western Union. I found this book too clunky. It seems to be a selection of cardboard cutout...
Published 5 months ago by Isabel Barbesky


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It read to me like a bad movie script, 28 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fallen Land (Kindle Edition)
It is alleged that when Samuel Goldwyn was asked about the message he was trying to convey in his movie, can’t remember which movie, he said "If I wanted to send a message, I'd use Western Union". Someone should’ve sent the author that message, maybe even using Western Union. I found this book too clunky. It seems to be a selection of cardboard cutout situations inhabited by cardboard cutout characters. It was about as subtle as being bashed on the head continually with a snow shovel. I know the comparisons between novels can be invidious, but if we would compare this one, as a dystopian novel, with Never Let Me Go, I think you can see the subtle horror conveyed in the latter is much more effective, as opposed to the B-movie horror laid out in excessive detail in the Fallen Land. There is lots of room for the reader’s imagination to work productively in the former novel, but in the Fallen Land author trusts neither his readers nor himself, and so ladles on the detail after detail after detail until I wanted to scream, “Enough already, I get it!" As a reader, I continually felt crowded out, to say nothing of being bullied. It read to me like a bad movie script, with the all seeing all controlling corporation a poor imitation of a Philip K Dick novel or any of the other films or novels using the same trope. I found none of the characters, except maybe Copley, the young boy, of more than passing interest. The father, I thought was particularly badly developed and became more and more unreal as the book progressed. Trying to use the African-American neighbour as some kind of point of sanity in an otherwise insane world also didn’t work all that well and, again, it has been done before and better. For example, Disley, in The Sound And Fury. Finally, although there’s a great deal more to be said, it was all too bloody predictable. Also, for me, there was no rhythm in the prose. It was if a spavined mule was trying to do the tango to the music of Iron Maiden.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of the American Dream., 13 July 2013
By 
Jenny (Manchester, Uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This literary work essentially tells the story of 160 acres of land in America and of the characters who at one time or other have occupied it. Focussing on the Noailles family the author weaves a tragic tale about contemporary America. Ambitious 'go-getters' who are trying to survive and to support themselves and their family, who seemingly succeed only for circumstance to strike. Shifting perspectives the story begins at the end result before sliding back into the past where the author takes his time explaining exactly how everything has come about via paranoia, misunderstandings but most of all from the sheer pressures of life. There are various social and political points raised in the work, including questions on race and sexuality and there is a heavy emphasis on the financial state of America. The character of Paul in particular (a man who has such high hopes of being a great architect and house builder but who ultimately was denied life chances owing to his station and situation) is very reminiscent of Hardy's 'Jude the Obscure'. Like Jude, Paul lacks the financial freedom to fully realise his dream and foster his ambitions to a fruitful conclusion. My criticisms of this book include the very obvious fact that it is over-written with a ending that is both shocking and yet also disappointing in its abruptness. The very dark tone of the book which runs throughout and the overly long and somewhat confusing descriptions of the land made this book at times a difficult read.
The highlight of the book was undoubtedly the criticisms of the American prison system and the frightening future that the author portrays as a result of the privatisation of security and the justice system.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The American Nightmare, 27 Aug. 2013
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
After being really impressed (and challenged) by Patrick Flanery's debut novel Absolution which I read last month, I was really keen to get my hands on his second book. I'm pleased to say I enjoyed this one even more.

Fallen Land is a chronicle of huge ambitions and shattered dreams. It starts with the horrific lynching of a young black man falsely accused of assaulting a white girl, and the subsequent murder of the judge who tried to spare him, as well as the judge's black tenant farmer (their story is reprised later in the book). The scene having been set, we move to the present day when a descendent of that tenant farmer, retired schoolteacher Louise Washington, is staging a sit-in protest in her home which is being repossessed due to her own debts and the financial failure of a housing development which is being built on the land by ruthless developer, Paul Krovik. Into this American-dream-turned-nightmare stumble Boston couple Nathaniel and Julia Noailles, who have taken advantage of Krovik's financial collapse to get themselves a large suburban house at a knock-down price. Their 7 year old son Copley is having trouble adjusting to the move, retreating into a fantasy world and communicating with his parents in a series of robotic grunts and movements. Little do they realise that their troubles are only just beginning.

I don't think it's explicitly stated but my impression was that the story is set in the very near future - America is still in the grip of the financial crisis but there's also a futuristic `Big Brother' feel to it, thanks in no small part to the sinister conglomerate Nathaniel works for, which seems to be taking over every aspect of the characters' lives, creating an almost post-apocolyptic/dystopian atmosphere in which they struggle to survive against the odds. It's a bleak story featuring some very damaged people, whose backstories are explored in such a way as to make them believable and (in most cases) empathetic, despite the extreme circumstances they face.

Fallen Land is not an easy read but I certainly found it an enthralling and very thought-provoking experience. Much as I enjoyed Absolution I did struggle a bit with the multiple narrators and timeframes. No such trouble here as the clear but interwoven storylines blend together beautifully and each is equally compelling. There's a quote from the New Yorker on the cover which states `Patrick Flanery is an exceptionally gifted novelist, and he is just getting started' - I wholeheartedly agree and am eagerly awaiting his next novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 31 May 2013
By 
C. Bones "surreyman" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Is this the "great American novel" that others have claimed it to be. I don't know, I haven't read enough of the other contenders but it is certainly a fascinating novel in many ways. There are so many elements to the story and all of them seem marvellously conceived and marvellously written. The sheer oddness of Nathaniel and his family moving into a house with the previous occupant still ...... well I'll try not to get into plot spoilers but this episode was almost like a ghost story. And the weirdness of Paul's version of the American dream and how it proves unsustainable and his life compared with Nathathiel who is just being morally chewed up by "big business", it is all very powerfully written. And then we have Louise, the widow who just wants to enjoy the world that she once knew but is just trampled by the need for her town to "develop". Its all a nightmare really and I can see why so many readers love this book. If I mark it down a point its because I did find it fascinating rather than truly involving. Its was rather like watching insects battle it out under a microscope and in the end I probably didn't care enough about the characters. But if its a powerful disenchantment with the American dream that you want, then this is your book. As perceived here, the dream is heartless and dehumanising.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Untidy Marriage, 6 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
This second novel by a talented young writer features five central characters, all of whom get the point of view at one time or another.

Louise Washington is the one true protagonist. The great-granddaughter of slaves, who inherited 160 acres of farm and forest and swamp land a slave-owner left generations ago to his man-servant after years of faithful . . . uh . . . service, Louise tells the story of the land and her family from its empty relic of a farmhouse, where the electricity has been turned off; she's lost the deed to eminent domain, and the compensation she was awarded has gone to lawyers she hired to fight it. Her first-person narration is lovely and lyrical, garnished with morsels of magical realism that somehow nestle comfortably inside the book's predominantly realist style.

Paul Krovick is the one true antagonist. The son of a detached and emotionally abusive Marine, Krovick is a carpenter by trade and the failed developer of the bulk of the land Louise used to own, which he bought after her husband had passed and she had no other way to live out her years. There arose a subdivision of suburban McMansions of the Rube-Goldberg-faux-Victorian type, with turrets and gingerbread and a mishmash of details, all of which vibrate when a door closes, and shake and rattle and leak when the fall deluge descends on an unidentified Midwestern city soon to be racked by recession. As the book opens, Krovick loses it all to foreclosure, when it's only ten percent complete and houses have stopped selling in the economic downturn. His gradual transition to homelessness and vagrancy is starkly depicted in nuanced, quiet detail that stands appropriately alongside Louise's poetic style.

Nathaniel and Julia Noailles are a young Boston couple. Intelligent and urban, these long-time, central-city apartment dwellers--who named their only son Copley, after the Square--have taken jobs in the Midwest, Julia with a university and Nathaniel at the headquarters of the multi-national conglomerate he worked for in Beantown. After much handwringing about the move, they buy a house in foreclosure and take up residence in the model home of Krovick's subdivision--the house where he lived with his family before his fall, and under which he transformed an old secret cellar into a subterranean fall-out shelter. The three Bostonians become victims--of Krovick and each other, and various forces internal and external and somewhat open to debate.

The novel is an exploration of the emotional landscape that develops between and among all five. But it is also clearly intended as an exploration of the political, economic and social landscape of America at a point in time that seems very much like the present. Bravo for that, no question: Flanery is drawn again to this socio-political territory, as he was in his debut novel about South Africa's difficult emergence from apartheid and colonialism, and we need more writers this talented to have a go at this sort of thing. But I fear Fallen Land falters somewhat on the balance that must be struck if it's to be done in a piece of contemporary realist fiction.

When Vonnegut says "The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal," we are ready to suspend our disbelief and listen to a political parable we know will be about more than just a fellow named Harrison Bergeron. When Orwell put "1984" on the cover in 1949, same thing. Here, we never really get that signpost, and I'm not sure it would be accurate if given. In the midst of a book about America in the here and now, we get incongruities that make sense only as symbols or totems, and don't quite know what to make of them. Examples include certain corporate edicts Nathaniel receives at work (some of which are quite credible, but others simply not), and practices at the company school Copley is forced to attend (half of which seem like what nuns did to us in 1954, but others are simply never going to happen). These, and others like them, are a bit too much beyond realistic to sit comfortably inside the rest of the narrative, especially when they become a central cause of the disintegration of a man and a marriage we're asked to care about, and do. Without these bits--and they're truly unnecessary, it seems to me--the powerful climax to this story could seem, not just shocking, but inevitable.

By contrast, Krovick's descent is much more believable. This is because it is so clearly tied, not just to a fragile or teetering psyche, but to the demise of his economic prospects. The little scene of his being turned away with his toolbox in hand is exactly what happened to carpenters all over this land in the last downturn. I kept wondering when Nathaniel was going to start worrying, not about his place in a company and a job nobody like him would want to stay with, but about his mortgage; those corporate edicts and the school and the rest would not have had him buying into it all, but worrying how he was going to pay the mortgage or sell a house nobody would want so he could leave and go back to his old job, with or without Julia . . . and Copley. That's a story that's happening all over the US, and it's every bit as scary as the less realistic one depicted here.

I suppose what I'm saying is that more subtlety in the fashioning of the story, particularly as it relates to Nathaniel and the forces weighing on him, might have yielded a climax even more powerful, not less.

But nothing could improve the pages that take us from there to the end. A denouement so beautiful, it has me mentally leafing back through some of the best I've ever read . . . or seen. Empire Falls. The Great Gatsby. Casablanca.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars State of the Union..., 23 Mar. 2013
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Anyone who doesn't believe in freedom at eighteen is a fascist. Anyone who doesn't believe in security at forty is a criminal.'

In this extraordinary book, Flanery delves deep into the troubled American psyche in the post 9/11, post global crash world where the tectonic plates of certainty and complacency have shifted with volcanic and destructive results.

When the economic collapse strikes, Paul Krovik loses everything, including his family and the house that he built for them. He had planned to build a whole development but now the few completed houses stand, already decaying, on swampy land in the middle of an unfinished building site. Louise's family had owned the land for generations until she was forced to sell to Paul and now Louise lives in her old house at the edge of the site. And now Nathaniel and Julie Noailles, with their young son Copley, are moving from their urban, socially liberal life in Boston to live in this suburban house in an unnamed town in the South. Unknown to them, Paul is living in the concealed basement, determined to get the house back...

Flanery's prose is wonderful and the characters he has crafted are complex and compelling, each damaged by history and experience and each inspiring empathy in the reader. He develops them slowly, letting us see the influences, both personal and political, that have made them what they are: Paul, whose father brought him up on quotations from Emerson, believes in individualism and apocalypse; Louise, descendant of slaves, guilty at losing the land they treasured, and hating Paul for destroying it; and the Noailles, a family whose veneer of liberalism hides dark secrets and is gradually eroded by fear and mistrust. Through their stories, Flanery shows us the stresses and tensions in a nation still dealing with the aftermath of terror and economic meltdown. The society he depicts is one where trust has broken down; where ultimate security is the goal regardless of the cost to personal freedom; where privacy is seen as an unaffordable luxury; and where the state is in the process of passing responsibility for social control into the hands of an unelected, unaccountable and profit-driven private sector.

The descriptions of the decaying house and the swampy land as the rain beats interminably down add to the air of oppressive menace and threat that builds throughout the book. And as events spiral, Flanery's depiction of the psychological effects on each character is both convincing and disturbing, as love and trust turn gradually into suspicion and paranoia. This is a masterly, multi-layered book, which works on both levels - as a fine, slow-burning psychological thriller, and as a persuasive metaphor for a society in turmoil in response to huge events.

'If we are not in the final chapters of our history then we are at the end of a particular volume, unable to predict how further instalments may unfold.'

After reading this, I feel I understand far more clearly where the American psyche is positioned at this point in time, and it scares me. I wait with real interest for the reaction of American reviewers. Highly recommended.

NB I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this from the publisher.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the dead tree gives no shelter......, And the dry stone no sound of water", 26 April 2013
By 
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Patrick Flanery begins his second novel, Fallen Land, with an immediate account of brutal, planned violence, recounted in cool, restrained, ungratuitous language. The year is 1919, and the violence is in America, in a wave of race riots. Flanery's refusal to linger or indulge in overblown language to describe the events which start this novel, adds to the immediate shock and horror felt by the reader. His cool, dispassionate writing serves to underline a theme which runs through the novel - there is a quotidian violence at the heart of America, underneath its golden dreams of itself, there is always a darker history of blood, fear and hatred.

Jump forward to the post 9/11 world, the legacy of that violence still forms part of the breast milk of America's dreams of itself, the land of the free, of opportunity - but its riches are built on the backs of the unfree, on land taken away from the indigenous people, on land worked by those who were stolen from their own homelands to work as slaves

But this is no easy polemic, no easy bleeding heart liberal piece of writing, designed to make the reader feel good about themselves because THEY do not inhabit that world of casual racism and exploitation. As in his previous book, Absolution, Flanery is adept at working into the rounded, complex nature of a human being, forcing us to realise we cannot easily take the simplistic view of `me good, you bad' - he constantly worms his way into the rot at the heart of the golden apple, and conversely the seam of gold inside the epitome of rank destruction.

One of his central characters, the architect and proto psychopath Paul Krovik, is himself part of that immigrant heritage that came to America in pursuit of that golden dream of the land of the free. Brutal, misguided, deranged he may be - but the reader is made to empathise with the noble dreams which led to Krovik's dark choices and downfall. The reader knows, from the start, that this man is evil - but Flanery makes us look further and more deeply.

Set against the dysfunction of a society turning its back on the past, turning its back on its own evolutionary history, its connection to life and the land, is the keeper of connection: the first person narrator of her story, and of what is human, humane, humanity, Louise Washington, descendant of those slaves.

Louise allows Flanery another voice - that of beauty, imagination, the power and magic of words, often taken for granted in the way the land itself has been taken for granted. Only Louise represents a thin hope for the future, holding a respect for the raped and fallen land, its trees, our ancestors, a living connection to the past, the fecund earth, before the American dream which was built on an idea of `the land' but, without respect for the reality of `Gaia', tarmacs over that complex, textured earth.

Flanery is, I fear, also writing the world we are busily creating, where the greedy maw of global corporate culture grinds up and destroys our unique, individual, messy, unconformist living human animal expression, leaving us robotic and without soul. Louise, and the two `dysfunctional' children (read: real) Copley and Joslyn, may not be enough to stop us walking voluntarily into the machine

This is an EXTRAORDINARY book, about so many things, with so many layers, impossible to do justice to without spoiling and inhibiting the journey of discovery each reader will make. It has an absorbing story, a narrative, it has complex, interesting and well-drawn characters; it has language which is appropriate to character, subtle, textured and poetic when needed, plain and pared back when needed; it has complex and rich ideas, content and form. To read it, is to make a journey where you believe you are travelling in one way, to one destination, and suddenly you reach a view above the trees and realise there is a whole new vista and the view you have come from is not, after all, all there is. Layers upon layers unfold - but here is the magic - the book is all of a piece with itself.

Sometimes, superlatives cannot even begin to scratch the surface of how good a book is, or why.
Straddling and defying genres impeccably - thriller/crime, science fiction, literary fiction, my only reservation - and it is a big one - is - what on earth can I now read, that will not seem thin, pale, and not worth the time spent on it?. I do hope Patrick Flanery is working very diligently indeed on book number 3 - perhaps I should just slowly re-read Absolution again while I wait...................

I remain grateful to fellow Amazon reviewer Fiction Fan, poster of the first review, who initially alerted me to Flanery last year, instructing me to read Absolution or I would be sorry!

(apologies to TS Eliot, for stealing and running together lines from The Wasteland in my title)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Novel of the failed American Dream, 10 May 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fallen Land (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Patrick Flanery, for his second novel, takes us to a place called Poplar Farm in the summer of 1919 when race riots swept across America and where the landowner and newly elected Mayor has stepped in, to stop the lynching of two black men who had been accused of molesting a white girl. He was also lynched along with his black share cropper. This rich, white man had left his entire estate to that same black man, one George Freeman.

We move onto modern times and meet Louise, who is the last in the line of farmers who has now been forced to sell that very same land, to pay life's accumulating bills. The land goes to Paul Krovik, a dysfunctional man who decides to turn the prime agriculture land into Dolores Wood, an executive home development. Then he to runs into financial problems and loses everything. As his estate is old off piece by piece, his erstwhile dream home is bought by an aspiring executive from Boston. This is Nathaniel and his wife Julia with their young son, Copley.

Like a tree transplanted to a soil not of its liking, this new family find themselves in a new and alien environment where to fit in means to compromise. With the pressures of home and work and mysterious goings on in the night, fact from fiction starts to become blurred and little Copley seems to be the only one who has any idea what is really going on.

This is the `American Dream' gone bad, a theme that has been explored many a time but Patrick Flanery is a master of his art. He has brought together the stories of all of the characters and manages to speak as if it were them whether as a young boy or an old woman who has lost all the colour from her life. The story itself is both complex and simple, as indeed are most things in life, but he weaves together the strands of this plot in such a way as to make it seem almost effortless. He had me griped from the very start to the last word a truly rewarding read - highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book, 13 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fallen Land (Kindle Edition)
Very enjoyable, well-observed story-telling. The characters rounded and believable. Well written and rattles along at a good pace. Worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries too hard..., 28 Sept. 2013
By 
Roz Bailey (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fallen Land (Kindle Edition)
I think the author was trying to impress readers with his undoubtedly firm grasp of the English language and has, like many 'fine dining' chefs, tried too hard and is guilty of over-writing to the nth degree. Not a single character in this book can be described as normal making the reader unable to relate to them in any way. The actual construction of the story is very good, but page-length could have been cut by at least a third.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Fallen Land
Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery (Hardcover - 1 May 2013)
£12.08
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews