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When the English Fall: A Novel by David…
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When the English Fall: A Novel

by David Williams

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How does a cataclysmic event (in this instance, a solar storm, bringing about an end-of-the-world type scenario) affect an Amish community in Pennsylvania? That's basically the idea behind this novel. Jacob, an Amish man, both a husband and father, writes his thoughts down in a diary. When chaos begins to reign in the "outside" world (whose inhabitants are also know as "the English") and martial law takes effect, what happens to the close-knit Amish, when people begin to invade their community with guns, demanding food & shelter?

This was a book club pick, and I was previously unfamiliar with both this author & title. But I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. Though it would be considered a dystopian novel, it's not exactly a typical example of a book from this genre and is written from a unique perspective. It was well written, and in this instance, I thought the diary entries were effective, especially listening as I did on audio. I'm somewhat surprised this novel hasn't received more hype, as I think it's deserving of it. Recommended! ( )
  indygo88 | Mar 14, 2018 |
I live near a few Amish communities, so the idea of an end-of-the-world dystopian novel set from their point of view caught my interest. And this book was definitely interesting - sort of like a book about the end of our own society told from someone not directly involved in that society. However, I didn't really like the ending - the story felt very unresolved to me and I actually flipped back through the last few pages of the book, certain I had missed something. Read this if you'd like an original post-apocalyptic novel told from a new perspective, but not if you like your plots to neatly resolve. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Mar 13, 2018 |
Life for Jacob and his family is steady and predictable within their faithful Amish community. After a solar flare destroys the functionality of most technology, the surrounding English community begins a slow decline towards desperation and starvation. Jacob and his community initially try to provide food for their English neighbors, however, as violence and crime escalate, the pacifist Amish community is forced to make decisions about their own survival in this post-apocalyptic world.

This novel is a simply written perspective of Amish life in a post-technological world. When the solar flare stops 21st century life as most know it, the Amish notice little change in their day-to-day life due to their lack of reliance on electricity to survive. However, surrounded by desperation and escalating violence, the Amish way of life is threatened by external forces. With a slowly developing suspense, I greatly enjoyed this unique story, which was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and a great addition to the apocalyptic literature genre. ( )
1 vote voracious | Jan 1, 2018 |
Bookstores are awash in dystopian and post-apocalypse novels, especially in the YA category. "When the English Fall" is a story about the apocalypse, not its aftermath. It is brief, ruminative, a reflection on our reliance on weapons, material things and labor-saving devices. Much of its power comes from Williams' choice of an Amish farmer as his narrator: the book is in the form of about 6 weeks of journal entries by the farmer, also a husband and father. I don't know whether Williams' accurately portrays the Amish, but this short novel moved me and set me thinking. ( )
  nmele | Nov 2, 2017 |
Unlike most dystopian books, this one is pretty mild. The world looses power when a solar flare destroys the grid and leaves most mechanical things unusable. The pace is much slower and lacking in an antagonist until human's baser nature takes over. In spite of that, it left me clearly affected by its message.
"When the English Fall" is written in the form of a diary. The narrator is a middle aged Amish man. Jacob and his small family lead a hard working, quiet but happy life and are nearly self-sufficient along with their community. The language he uses is simple and straight forward. He writes of his family, their work, his concerns, and his faith. He opens his heart on the page (albeit with a bit of guilt), and I really connected with his honesty.
Jacob's teen aged daughter, Sadie, has been experiencing seizures recently, and the whole family is very concerned about her. She seems to have a sense of the disaster to come. She seems almost otherworldly at times.
When the solar flare creates havoc for the rest of the world (the English), the lives of the Amish are minimally effected. They have a stock of non-perishable food and the means to harvest their crops. Because of this, they eventually become the center of attention for a world without means to feed itself using modern equipment. Sadly, they see their lives changed by the violent actions of those who find themselves desperate and starving.
The real beauty of the book, for me, was the absolute faith and commitment to a non-violent way of life exhibited by the Amish. The "English" world is in complete chaos, but the Amish continue to freely help when they can, even when their lives are threatened.
Although I was resigned to the ending, I was hoping that it would wind up different. I think the book gave a very clear look at a group of people who most of us would consider backward and naive. I suspect that like me, many readers might find that there is something to be admired in people who live lives of such faith and integrity. Even in the midst of hardship and loss, they exhibit the ability to peaceably accept what comes.
This book is a quick read in spite of it's slow burning plot. It will appeal to those who wish for or appreciate the idea of a simpler life and a faith in something other than man's power and prestige. It speaks of a form of courage that is rarely heralded by the world.
I found it to be a timely read with many of the current disasters and thought provoking as to where our world puts it's confidence and our future hope.
I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title. ( )
  c.archer | Sep 20, 2017 |
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Seen through the diary of Jacob, an Amish farmer trying to protect his family and his way of life, the book examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos when an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath of a catastrophic solar storm and the subsequent collapse of modern civilization.… (more)

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