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Fault Lines Paperback – 1 Mar 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843547562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843547563
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,882,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


It poses provocative and challenging questions and demands a response from the reader. -- Times Literary Supplement

The novel's form both creates and deconstructs its own ambiguities leading to a fascinating read. Domestic in focus and epic in scope, Fault Lines is a captivating piece of storytelling.
-- Clare Drewett, South Wales Argus


"An immaculate novel." (The Guardian)

"Huston's powerful novel combines the pacing of a thriller with the emotional intricacies that are the hallmark of the best family stories." (Booklist)

"Explosive in its control and its ambition." (Le Figaro)

"Nancy Huston is a brilliant, lyrical, unforgettable writer." (Janette Turner Hospital)

"Fault Lines is haunted by the upheavals of the twentieth century. Reading this brilliant novel, you are deeply moved." (Le Monde)

"Huston's brilliance is in how she gradually lets the reader in on the secret and draws out the revelation so carefully that by the time the reader arrives at the heart of the matter in Munich 1944, the discovery hits with blunt force. Huston masterfully links the 20th century's misery to 21st-century discomfort in razor-sharp portraits of children as they lose their innocence." (Publishers Weekly)

"Narrated by four children from different generations of the same family, this tale of a present haunted by the past won the "Prix Femina" 2006. Reminiscent of Nicole Krauss's "The History Of Love", it will also appeal to fans of Lionel Shriver, Helen Dunmore and Linda Grant. It was also longlisted for the Orange Prize." (The Guardian)

"Gifted narrator Edwina Wren deftly juggles a handful of challenging accents and a clever plot in this story of four generations of brilliant and troubled characters. Novelist Nancy Huston’s twelfth novel is told through the eyes of four children and proceeds backward from 2004 to 1944. Wren portrays each character with sensitivity and allows a tone of wonder and innocence to color her voice as she moves through the four sections of the story. The unusual structure of the book and the slow-building tension make the final revelation both startling and shocking as each of the children experiences a loss of innocence. FAULT LINES gives listeners a glimpse of the many absurdities and wonders of life." (AudioFile Magazine)

"This novel, the winner of the 2006 Prix Femina (a French literary prize), is structured as a reverse recitation (starting in 2004 and going back to WWII) of four generations of hidden family secrets as relayed in slice-of-life sections by youngsters. Wren’s voice fluidly morphs from male to female, and through time shifts and varied accents, she relays feelings of innocence edged with the unflinching honesty of youth, expertly matching the saga’s deep emotional pull. Wren channels the creepy malevolence of young Sol, a coddled Californian, whose online obsession with sex and violence is disturbingly at odds with his childhood fears concerning a botched surgery and the repressed unease of a family reunion. Sol’s father, Randall, recounts his New York and Israeli boyhood in the 1980s, and Wren’s voice is colored with tones of deep familial affection and humor, tinged with the tremulous hesitation of unfulfilled affection. Wren’s voicing of grandmother Sadie’s Canadian youth in 1962 reveals the raw pain of abandonment as much by careful silence and audible breaths as by suppressed tones of anger and heartrending emotion. Wren masterfully communicates the brutality, terror, and resolute survival of great-grandmother Erra’s childhood in Germany during WWII, events that hold the key to the familial fault lines, which expose the horror of the Holocaust. Each voice rings absolutely true, whether luminous with the description of Erra’s musical talent or dark with revulsion and betrayal. An extraordinarily moving listening experience." (Booklist) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Since fault lines are the barely visible fractures in rocks that will eventually cause seismic shift, Nancy Huston's title implies that all families are riven with these cracks too, caused by past hurts and events, and that they shape and form the way we turn out. If you love family epics full of secrets and lies, prepare for a mesmerizing journey.

The story is told in four chunks narrated in turn by six-year old members of the same family in reverse chronological order.

The first narrator is Sol in California in 2004. Precocious, fiercely intelligent but showing disturbing predilections for internet sex and violence, Sol is a spoilt only child and paints a sharp picture of his pampered existence. His mother Tessa jumps to his every command and his father Randall takes a weary back seat.

We then jump to 1982 and Sol's father Randall takes up the reins, depicting the story two decades earlier on. Randall's driven mother Sadie obsesses and frets over the fate of the Jewish diaspora despite not having been born into the religion herself, driving her husband, failed playwright Aron and son to distraction and the whole family to the other end of the world.

Then it's 1962 and we learn a little about why Sadie became so serious and humourlessly focused, how it was for her growing up with a sexy but flighty famous siren singer, Erra/Kristina for a mother.

And finally,the scene hops to 1944. Sadie's mother Kristina is herself a child and the major upheavals in her young life come to light. Hugely potent and conflicting emotions and loyalties pull her in opposite directions. Perhaps the only way to cope with such losses and confusion is to become fickle and protect oneself from future hurt.
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Format: Paperback
Story of four generations of a family with a secret written through the narrative voice of each generation as a six year old. The secret turned out to be the 'legal' abduction of the main character by Nazis because of her blond features being a prototyype of Arian. Based on a true policy intitative known as the 'Fountain of Life' that affected some 250,000 children, the book covers a fascinating and little known abuse, but the plot fails to satisfy my curiousity or convince me. The first narrative - in the present day - is a peculiarly nasty and self-satisfied child and as the story unfolds we never find out why. It ends so abruptly I found myself looking to see if some pages had fallen out. The book's pitfalls are odd as it is clear the author has a real talent. It is as if the book was published before the writer had completed the novel.

However, I would recommend you read it yourself. It is interesting and I may have missed something obvious.
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Format: Paperback
"Fault Lines" is an interesting book. Presented in four sections going back in time, each section is twenty years after the next section, the book creates puzzles about the characters and then slowly reveals the answers as their past is revealed. Each section is presented as written by the parent of the child who wrote the previous section until the final section is written in 1944-45 by the great grandmother of the writer of the first section.

The story presented involves an aspect of Nazi history rarely written about and the author does a nice job of linking the sections together. But each section of the book is supposed to have been written by a six year old and the writing makes this unbelievable. Right from the start, we are presented with a character, Sol, who at six years old likes to look at videos of beheadings and rapes. He doesn't chew his food but lets it soak in his mouth and is overly concerned with his bowel movements. His oddities make him unbelievable and completely unlikeable but worse his behaviors are unexplained. Each of the other voices are from children who have been damaged but the reasons for their damage is part of the puzzle that is revealed as the story unfolds. The other three children, although not sounding like any six year old, are at least sympathetic. And each section also discusses a piece of history: the war in Iraq, the massacres in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, the Bay of Pigs (why is the US sending pigs to Cuba?), and finally the bombing of Dresden.

If you can get past the narration by these adult six year olds, there is an interesting story here. There is a unique humanity to the characters (other than Sol) that makes the book hard to put down. It is worth giving a try. I will add that the final section of the book was by far the best. It made me interested in finding a novel about life in Nazi Germany from the viewpoint of a child.
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Format: Paperback
Nancy Huston is very popular in France, but has somehow never quite gained the same reputation in the UK. This book brought her to more general notice than most of her others over here as it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Huston's set herself quite a challenge, narrating the history of a dysfunctional family backwards, through the narrative voices of four six-year-old children. We start in the present day, with Sol, the precocious and utterly selfish pampered son of doting Republican parents, growing up in California. Sol idolizes President Bush and gets sexually excited by videos of torture and the war in Iraq. His doting mother spoils him and believes he's a dear little thing, his father is frustrated that Sol gets so pampered, but feeds his son's militaristic fervour. The Sol part of the story ends with a mysterious trip to Germany made by Sol, his parents, his crippled grandmother Sadie (an academic and lecturer) and his great-grandmother Erra, a singer (all the women in the family have children very young, so Erra is only 65 when Sol is six). In the final 'Sol' scene, Sol watches his great-grandmother fighting over a doll with a woman who claims to be her sister - why? The question isn't answered in the next section, set in the 1980s and told from the point of view of Sol's father, Randall, when he was six, but we learn a lot of other things - how Sadie got crippled, during the family's year-long stay in Haifa in Israel, why Randall feels ambivalent about his mother and why he adores his grandmother Erra, and why Randall hates anyone from an Arabic background (as a child in Haifa he had a traumatic passion for a Palestinian girl). The story then moves back to the six-year-old Sadie. As a woman, Sadie is bold, energetic and handsome.Read more ›
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