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Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie Macdonald

Fall on Your Knees (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Ann-Marie Macdonald

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4,4271091,107 (3.92)264
Title:Fall on Your Knees
Authors:Ann-Marie Macdonald
Info:Vintage Canada (1997), Edition: 1st Vintage Canada ed, Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library, read in 2012, 1001 Books to Read Before You Die

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Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (1996)

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English (101)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Korean (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (109)
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Lily stays sitting. “Frances. What if Ambrose is the Devil?” “He’s not the Devil. I know who the Devil is and it isn’t Ambrose.” “Who’s the Devil?” Frances crouches down as if she were talking to Trixie. “That’s something I’ll never tell you, Lily, no matter how old you get to be, because the Devil is shy. It makes him angry when someone recognizes him, so once they do the Devil gets after them. And I don’t want the Devil to get after you.” “Is the Devil after you?”

This is Ann-Marie MacDonald's debut novel. I need to keep reminding myself about this fact that it's a debut novel because it is a polished work of complexity and beauty.

Fall on Your Knees, set in Cape Breton at in the first half of the 20th century, tells the story of Materia, Kathleen, Mercedes, Frances, and Lily - i.e. all the women of the Piper family. Each woman has a voice, a distinct history, a distinct outlook on life - and a distinct fate. So, really this is a novel with five main characters - not to mention James, who dwells at the centre of all their lives.

This book has so many layers that it was easy to be sucked into the world of the Pipers. But it is not a comfortable place. Far from it, it is a world full of harshness, brutality, and abuse, where each of the characters is trying to escape the confines of what holds them. Be it religion, loyalty, or something else - each character has their own form of imprisonment.

"God did not put me on this earth to stand by while my sister Frances is killed. Beaten is one thing. Wrongly touched is one thing. Stabbed with a bayonet is another. Push. Be strong enough to carry the burden of sin that goes with doing the right thing. There is only one saint in this family and I’m not it. God has made Mercedes a judge. No one loves you for that. Not like a crippled child who’s prone to visions. Whom Mercedes prizes. Not like a fallen woman who makes people laugh. Whom Mercedes loves."

When reading some of the reviews, the aspect that I have picked up on most is that people have read this because it was an Oprah bookclub read. I am usually hesitant to follow up hyped up books, but sometimes, just sometimes, they are a exactly the type of book that will work their way into your soul.

Fall on Your Knees is a perfectly constructed family saga, but it is also more than this. It is a beautifully sketched insight into the human condition.

Mercedes is neither a saint nor a sinner. She is somewhere in between. She is why purgatory was invented. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
I am giving this 3 stars for the first 300 pages. The first 300 pages were a good read. Between page 300-348, I had it! I no longer cared about the characters, I didn't care what happened, and frankly I was hoping they would start jumping off the cliff.
It was so depressing. I agree with many of the negative reviews here.
If I give up on a book, it is usually in the first chapter or 2, not the last 1/4 of the book.
As others say,there are too many good books to waste my time on this one any further.

I love multi generational stories too,but this was not one of them. ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Multigenerational saga taking place in New Foundland. While the characters were interesting and the writing good, this clearly could have been a book and it's sequel. ( )
  LivelyLady | Jun 27, 2016 |
The Piper family is a history of violence, love, and incest from Cape Breton to New York. I looked forward to this book but the long drawn out retelling of relationships did me in, caused me to disengage, and forced me to finish for the sake of finishing. I couldn’t identify with any of the characters except for Trixie the cat who seemed the sanest of all. I see no compelling reason for it to be on The List. Alistair MacLeod’s No Great Mischief would be far better book about Cape Bretoners. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
This was an excellent read. And I didn't see the twist coming! It's also set in my end of the country, so some of the places are familiar. Highly recommended. ( )
  junepearl | Mar 4, 2016 |
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Book description
The Piper family is steeped in secrets, lies, and unspoken truths. At the eye of the storm is one secret that threatens to shake their lives - evn destroy them. Set on stormy Cape Breton Island off Nova Scotia, Fall on Your Knees is an internationally acclaimed multigenerational saga that chronicles the lives of four unforgettable sister. Theris is a world filled with driving ambition, inescapable family bonds, and forbidden love. (0-7432-3718-8)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743237188, Paperback)

A sprawling saga about five generations of a family from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Fall on Your Knees is the impressive first fiction from Canadian playwright and actor Ann-Marie MacDonald. This epic tale of family history, family secrets, and music centers on four sisters and their relationships with each other and with their father. Set in the coal-mining communities of Nova Scotia in the early part of this century, the story also shifts to the battlefields of World War I and the jazz scene of New York City in the 1920s.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:00 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Spanning five generations and moving from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, to the bleak landscape of World War I, and to the emerging jazz scene in New York City, this epic tale tells the story of four sisters.

(summary from another edition)

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