Fall on Your Knees

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Fall on Your Knees

by Ann-marie Macdonald

Knopf Canada | December 6, 1998 | Trade Paperback

Fall on Your Knees is rated 4.3333 out of 5 by 114.
“What a wild ride — I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough,” Oprah Winfrey told her viewers as she announced Fall on Your Knees as her February 2002 Book Club selection. Set largely in a Cape Breton coal mining community called New Waterford, ranging through four generations, Ann-Marie MacDonald’s dark, insightful and hilarious first novel focuses on the Piper sisters and their troubled relationship with their father, James. Winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, it was a national bestseller in Canada for two years, and it has been translated into 17 languages.

At the start of the 20th century, James Piper sets fire to his dead mother’s piano and heads out across Cape Breton Island to find a new place to live, eventually eloping with 13-year-old Materia Mahmoud, the daughter of wealthy, traditional Lebanese parents. And so, from early on, Ann-Marie MacDonald establishes some major themes: racial tension, isolation, passion and forbidden love, which will gradually lead to incest, death in childbirth, and even murder. At the centre of this epic story is the nature of family love, beginning with the Piper sister who depend on one another for survival. Their development as characters — beautiful Kathleen, the promising diva; saintly Mercedes; Frances, the mischievous bad girl, who tries to bear the family’s burden; and disabled Lily, everyone’s favourite — forms the heart of the novel. And then there is James, their flawed father.

Moving from Cape Breton Island to the battlefields of World War I, to Harlem in New York’s Jazz Age and the Depression, the tense and enthralling plot of Fall on Your Knees contains love, pain, death, joy, and triumph. The structure of the narrative is multi-faceted, richly layered, and shifts back and forth through time as it approaches the story from different angles, “giving it a mythic quality that allows dark, half buried secrets to be gracefully and chillingly revealed” (The New York Times Book Review). As the details of the labyrinthine plot are pulled together, the question of whether it is possible to escape one’s family history gradually raises itself.

The book’s epigraph, taken from Wuthering Heights, seems appropriate to a novel concerned with the different, often violent, forms that love can take. On the inexorable journey towards tragedy we encounter dark yet vivid images of neglect and violence, yet the novel radiates an unquenchable life-force, and yet the novel radiates an unquenchable life-force, shimmering with emotional depth, sensual with virtuoso descriptions of the power of music. It is a saga haunted by ghosts and saints, religious fanaticism and magic. MacDonald gives the most ordinary lives extraordinarily dramatic dimensions.

The Sunday Times wrote, "It is the unpredictability of this huge book that is its greatest joy." With allusions ranging from Hollywood stars to religious tracts, Fall on Your Knees simmers with vibrancy and crackling, effervescent, breathtaking language.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 576 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 1.21 in

Published: December 6, 1998

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394281780

ISBN - 13: 9780394281780

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hands down - in my top five of books read This book is truly amazing... what Ann Marie mcdonald does with the characters in her writing is not comparable to any other authors. You'll fall in love with the Piper girls, you'll cry for them, you'll pray for them, and at times you'll want to shake the heck out of them. Amazing amazing read! I can't say that enough...
Date published: 2014-01-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hard to finish This book was disappointing. It did not hold my interest. I was quite fed up with it about half way through and I only finished it because I was traveling in a remote area and it was my only option. I felt nothing but relief when I finished this book.
Date published: 2012-11-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I was a little disappointed. 3.25 stars It is the early 1900s in Nova Scotia. 13-year old Materia falls for James, so she breaks away from her arranged marriage her parents have made for her and marries James, only to be disowned by her parents. James dotes on their first daughter, Kathleen and though, years later, they have more daughters, their marriage turns sour. The book not only follows them, but follows their daughters during their lives. I was a little disappointed. I really liked The Way the Crow Flies, but for me, this wasn't nearly as interesting. It didn't grab me or hold my interest. I really didn't like any of the characters, which always makes it harder for me to enjoy a book. I wasn't compelled to pick up the book and/or to keep reading. Overall, I thought it was o.k., but nothing special.
Date published: 2011-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing i've read it 3 times already. great book. shocking and memorable.
Date published: 2011-11-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Non fiction truth in a fictional world This novel may possibly be the key hole to many of our silenced victims’ lives, whether they’ve been consumed by unwanted penetration, bewildered, hindered from accomplishing equality, and brought down to desperation to the full extent; even without knowing it. Fall On Your Knees is an incredibly written fiction in which history, culture, and the hidden disturbances of social issues, have been composed into one. It can be difficult to comprehend, and attempting to soak up each word may take courage. For the willing eyes that seek to discover the non fiction’s secret truths in a fictional world, it is best to be warned to open up your mind before opening the pages that expose humanity’s filth. Without an open mind, it is guaranteed to injure the mind of one that is weak. It is not advised to read the novel as casual. The key to reading one that exposes the human world takes a lot of comprehension, dissection, and evaluation. In order to survive a novel that holds so much, it is best to keep your logic on guard, while your emotions are kept tamed. In refusing to do so, it would not be a surprise to find yourself unable to cope with the mental disturbances and emotional grievances you’ve welcomed by not reading it with a controlled heart and careful eyes. pg 375 One would consider this as perverted. But only those with perverted minds would look over these passages again and again constantly while quoting it without a purpose. There is purpose in what Ann-Marie has written in this excerpt from the book. Hurt, heaviness and hate was the goal of this passage. She intended to cause her audience to be appalled, abashed, and abhorred. Not only was she genius in doing so, but she included a response in which her character “Frances” has comforted her watchful sister after the incident. This response, in which a 6 year old has assured to her slightly older sister, was well composed to cause heartbreak in her audience. "I keep looking at each other until he falls asleep like that, then she crawls out from behind his arms and walks over to me. 'It doesn’t hurt', she says." - pg. 376 The author, Ann-Marie Macdonald has obviously put a lot of thought in this novel. Palpably enough, it is blatant that Ann-Marie has been careful to select the right words, and combine them together to create the impact she has intended it to be. If put into a symbolic image, Fall On Your Knees is like an immaculate white house. It shines, and sparkles. But everyone that passes by it does not feel the innocence the house is supposed to hold present. And if one dares to enter, they find that the white house is not as immaculate as it imitates itself to be. Instead, past the sturdy bricks of white, you see that the paint is peeling off, and inside the house it is nothing but dusty and bloody. There are no people, but it is not empty; it is haunted.
Date published: 2010-12-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Compelling This novel may possibly be the key hole to many of our silenced victims’ lives, whether they’ve been consumed by unwanted penetration, bewildered, hindered from accomplishing equality, and brought down to desperation to the full extent; even without knowing it. Fall On Your Knees is an incredibly written fiction in which history, culture, and the hidden disturbances of social issues, have been composed into one. It can be difficult to comprehend, and attempting to soak up each word may take courage. For the willing eyes that seek to discover the non fiction’s secret truths in a fictional world, it is best to be warned to open up your mind before opening the pages that expose humanity’s filth. Without an open mind, it is guaranteed to injure the mind of one that is weak. It is not advised to read the novel as casual. The key to reading one that exposes the human world takes a lot of comprehension, dissection, and evaluation. In order to survive a novel that holds so much, it is best to keep your logic on guard, while your emotions are kept tamed. In refusing to do so, it would not be a surprise to find yourself unable to cope with the mental disturbances and emotional grievances you’ve welcomed by not reading it with a controlled heart and careful eyes. pg.375 One would consider this as perverted. But only those with perverted minds would look over these passages again and again constantly while quoting it without a purpose. There is purpose in what Ann-Marie has written in this excerpt from the book. Hurt, heaviness and hate was the goal of this passage. She intended to cause her audience to be appalled, abashed, and abhorred. Not only was she genius in doing so, but she included a response in which her character “Frances” has comforted her watchful sister after the incident. This response, in which a 6 year old has assured to her slightly older sister, was well composed to cause heartbreak in her audience. "I keep looking at each other until he falls asleep like that, then she crawls out from behind his arms and walks over to me. 'It doesn’t hurt', she says." - pg. 376 The author, Ann-Marie Macdonald has obviously put a lot of thought in this novel. Palpably enough, it is blatant that Ann-Marie has been careful to select the right words, and combine them together to create the impact she has intended it to be. If put into a symbolic image, Fall On Your Knees is like an immaculate white house. It shines, and sparkles. But everyone that passes by it does not feel the innocence the house is supposed to hold present. And if one dares to enter, they find that the white house is not as immaculate as it imitates itself to be. Instead, past the sturdy bricks of white, you see that the paint is peeling off, and inside the house it is nothing but dusty and bloody. There are no people, but it is not empty; it is haunted.
Date published: 2010-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Complex, intricate, haunting & dark story This is a book I will not forget and am happy I decided to pick it up despite my initial hesitance (being an Oprah's pick). While I found this book a bit hard to get into and didn't think I would like it at first, I cam out of it saying - Wow - a very complex, intricate, haunting and dark story that could only be written by a very talented author. My initial thoughts about not attaching to the book where because I wouldn't say the characters are likeable - I didn't bond or relate to them as in other favourite books - but I became memorized by them and compelled to attempt to understand what drove them in their actions and beliefs. In the end a book of love, family, survival and struggle, but in the most unique of ways. A book difficult to describe - you have to read it to understand.
Date published: 2010-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One Of The Best Pieces Of FIction Around This has to be one of the best books every written. I fell in love with all of the Piper girls...Frances Piper I believe is one of the greatest female characters in Canadian literature. I devoured the almost 600 pages in two days. Warning: Do not read if you have anything important to do the next day.
Date published: 2010-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Flipping Amazing! You'd be hard to come by a book that has more drama, intrigue, secrets, deceit, complex and compelling family dynamics than THIS BOOK! Without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. The writing in this book is so beautiful...I have never read another book quite like this. The plot and the way of the writing are so supreme, I MUST own this book and read it MANY times over. RECOMMENDED FOR ANY ONE WHO LIKES TO READ.
Date published: 2010-05-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book This is a great story that follows a family in Cape Breton after the father engages in forbidden love. After this he becomes cursed by the father who's daughter he stole away. The book follows the tragic incidents that result in the family's history as a result of this curse. Excellent story a recomended read for anyone
Date published: 2010-04-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from "It kept me glued to my seat" An incrediably well written book by Ann-marie McDonald. She kept me glued to my seat with the way she allowed the reader to 'see' what was happening with not just the main character but all of them. It was relatable even though the setting was some time ago. Character development was flawless!
Date published: 2009-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect I love this book. I have read it more than once, and I love it every time. The characters are interesting, the events are intriguing and exciting, and the imagery is delicious. I could close my eyes and see everything as I'm sure it must have been.
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable I first came across this novel years ago. But because of Its length I pushed it aside for a "one day" read. I recently made up a must read list of books, and this was on it. I tracked it down at the library, and delved into the world of the Pipers. Enthralling, mysterious, entertaining, shocking, heart breaking, all wrapped up into one amazing book. This book felt so real it could have been a biography. Highly recommend this to anyone, no matter what your reading genre.
Date published: 2009-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic first novel by a playwright and actress A wonderful family saga with compelling characters and an involving story. Beautifully written.
Date published: 2009-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unexpected Greatness After stashing this novel away in a drawer for years I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. After the first chapter I was hooked on this novel and could not put it down for days until I had finished reading it. This novel taught me a lot about the maritimes. I became emotionally connected to all of the characters and yearned to keep unfolding their lives before me in this novel. All in all, it was an amazing novel that I had not expected to be this touching.
Date published: 2009-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprising wonderful This wasn't a book I would normally have chosen but as it was so highly recommended by a friend, I dove right in and I'm glad I did. Excellent characters and writing, it grabbed me with every page.
Date published: 2009-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well written A very tragic story, but I loved it. Very engrossing.
Date published: 2008-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spellbinding I found this story provided a look very realistic and empathetic look at human diversity (sexuality, culture, ethnicity, and life circumstances) as experienced through various character perspectives. I loved how the author has painted such a well developed picture of who the characters are as individuals, and enjoyed the many twists and turns of this families dark history.
Date published: 2008-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Disturbingly intriguing! Someone gave me this book years ago, saying they enjoyed it but not enough to hold on to. Every time I picked up the book and read the back cover, I never found myself in the mood to begin what I considered might be a laborious task. After all, it's not a book full of sunshine and fluff. I ended up giving the book away finally, without having cracked the front cover. About a month ago, I was over at a friend's place, and I found myself perusing her bookshelf. There stood Fall on Your Knees. I picked it up, read the back again, and felt ready to take on the challenge. I borrowed the book and could hardly put it down until I had arrived at the very last word! This book is dark, yet beautifully written. Some of the hardest passages to read content-wise, were the most poetic. This provided a lovely contrast that made persevering through the at-times rough terrain not only manageable, but enjoyable. I sometimes needed to put the book down to digest parts, but it wasn't long before I needed to pick it up again and continue. This book is not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy meat in your stories, and reality in your characters, then I highly suggest you give this book a chance. It certainly left me with things to mull over once I was done. And I found an abundance of others who had succeeded in conquering this novel with whom to share my thoughts. After all, discussing what you've just read with others is half the fun of reading a great book.
Date published: 2008-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from my favourite book EVER! once you get used to ann-maries's very descrptive writing style, you will be able to appreciate her sheer brilliance! both the plot and character developments in the novel are truly examples of literary genius... as is her astounding use of metaphor. one of the best stories ever told!
Date published: 2008-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written I absolutely loved this book. I found it in among my mother's books, and began reading it because it is set in Nova Scotia, which is where I live and am from. After the first few pages I thought I would not be able to get into it, but it somehow kept me in its grasp. Dealing with some subject matter I normally stay away from, I still give this book 5 stars (or maple leafs). It was so well written and so unique from any other book I have ever read, that I could not put it down from start to finish. Amazing!
Date published: 2007-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting and wonderful. This novel is magical, I could not put it down. Dark, haunting and purely beautiful.
Date published: 2007-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book Ever I was glued to this book from start to finish. Ann Marie MacDonald is an incredibly talented writer.
Date published: 2007-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from worth getting past the beginning A friend let me borrow this book, and i have to admit, after the first few pages, I thought, ew, i can't get into this. But I perservered (kind of like the Return of the King LOTR...there's a whole LONG section in the middle hard to get past), and it was definitely worth it. It was nice being able to relate to an area (as i've travelled in Nova Scotia) instead of always reading of settings in American cities. This book is not what i expected, and well worth pushing through those first awkward pages!
Date published: 2007-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book was amazing. I read it a few years ago and I've have trouble finding a book that even comes close ever since. Ann-Marie Macdonald is an amazing writer and one of my favorites, I would recommend this book to everyone! Beautifully written...
Date published: 2007-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great This is my favorite book of all time. it is a web of magic and intrigue the whole time. I've recommended it to everybody!
Date published: 2007-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Brilliant" This is one of my all time favorite books. I fell in love with each character and their role in the story, expecially Fransis. This is the type of book that keeps you wanting more of the story each time you pick it up to read. I couldnt put it down..
Date published: 2007-01-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was good! Fal on your knees is a fast moving book that will keep you guessing. The author gives you just enough information so that you are guessing about certain plot twists, you are always waiting for her to reveal these twists and turns. that made me keep reading! This was quite a fast read, sometimes slow in the middle, but left me wanting more at the end!
Date published: 2006-11-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unusual This book initially drew me in. However, the book seemed to get more and more depressing as time when on. The family's incredible bad luck was hard to believe. I finished the book hoping to find a happy ending, but the book ended with a young girl who found she was the product of incest and rape and a boy who would never meet his mother.
Date published: 2006-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Steller I had to read this book for one of my classes and I found it so amazing the way that the author webs everything together, the mystery and intrigue of the Piper family. It is my favorite novel and had to read her other novel 'The Way the Crow Flies' right after I loved her writing so much.
Date published: 2006-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put it down! I was given this book by a friend to read while I was on vacation down south. Needless to say I could not put it down. I just lied on the beach and read, read, read! The characters are so intriguing, and I constantly was wondering where the plot was going next. I definately reccomend this to anyone who is looking for a great page-turner.
Date published: 2006-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It Draws you in This is one of those books that I couldn't put down. Anne Marie MacDonald has the ability to transport you into the pages of this novel. I never wanted it to end. It was strange and thrilling all at once and a book hard to forget. This is definately on my list of favourites.
Date published: 2005-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very good read I really enjoyed this book. It has some pretty good twists, and the characters are well developed. I would recommend this to a friend to read.
Date published: 2005-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVE THIS BOOK I first read this novel about 10 years ago in my highschool Canadian Lit class..I wasn't too sure about it at the time but I loved it. Very strange and keeps you wanting to read. One of my favorites.
Date published: 2005-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Utterly Amazing Ann-Marie Macdonald's novel Fall on your Knees is an absolutely amazing novel that kept me entertained, bewildered, and horrified. Each of Macdonald's works are masterpieces that deserve the greatest recognition.
Date published: 2005-01-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too long I found this book entertaining just because I don't think the author could have added any more plot twists besides space travel. The only thing that got me to read this overly extended novel was having to write an essay on it. It did make an interesting class presentation.
Date published: 2004-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Keep Reading I've read a lot of the reviews for this piece of art and I can't seem to get my head around why some are rating it poorly. This book is honestly my favourite I have ever picked up. The family secrets, the twisted actions ...every scene you'll picture clearly as if it were real. Amazing!! As for those who say they were either bored of it, couldn't get into it, or didn't understand the plot, that's the great thing! Not all books need a plot to be magical. This book was full of action, thoughts and dialogue, enjoy, read it and savour every moment. Personally I didn't get into the book until the second book/part. I sincerely hope this book becomes a movie one day for all to enjoy
Date published: 2004-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Get Over It. I wasn't sure I would like this book; it sounds skeptical. But as soon as I got through the prologue I knew it would be amazing, and it was. MacDonald has created a work of art; each character is unique and independant from the others. It's the most real book I've ever read, and details like when Rudolf the Reindeer was written doesn't overly affect the quality of this fiction. Get over it, Chris from Orillia.
Date published: 2004-11-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A real stinker!! Must have been a sale on words since she used so many. This book is basically boring and poorly written -- I'm sure it wouldn't have had any hype at all if it weren't Canadian. The whole ending (the walk from Sydney to New York???? right to the right place????) is ridiculous. And how about the glaring error with the description of her father -- he's in the trenches in WWI, still shining his shoes so they gleam -- in fact the others call him 'Rudolph' -- trouble is that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer who lit up the night, wasn't written until after WWII. Are there any editors out there??? This book just plain STUNK!
Date published: 2004-11-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Torture I bought this book when it first came out and have tried reading it about 5 different times. I just couldn't get into it. One of my coworkers was talking about it and how wonderful it was, so i am attempting to read it again. I am about 3/4 of way through it and I still can't get through it. I keep on hoping that it will get better. At this point i feel that I am just reading words. I will finish it, only because I don't have much left. I usually look forward to reading when I go to bed, but not with this book, it's torture.
Date published: 2004-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I have to admit, I was skeptical going in to this book. A lot of highly rated books usually disappoint me. This one however, is probably one of the best books I've read in years. It is beautifully written, in amazing detail-I felt like I was there. I connected to a lot of the characters, felt happy for them, sad for them, cried for them-an up and down ride for sure. This book has everything, and is definitely worth a read. I can't stop thinking about it, it was very deep and moving for me.
Date published: 2004-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put this one down If you have not read this book, just pick it up and read the first few pages. The author uses pictures to start the story, and it flows so easily. Yes, this is not a very happy book to read but the people in it feel real. I never read books twice, but I have read this one over, and I'd like to read it a third time. I simply love this book.
Date published: 2004-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I still love it after over a year! I quite agree with the review of January 27, this book is wondeful and if you did not appreciate it then it's time you place some variety in your reading choices. I brought this book to work for a co-worker, about a year ago, and it is still being passed around at work. It will probably make all 14th floors of the building. Everyone is loving it! Great read indeed!
Date published: 2004-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from !!! You know, I've just been reading over some of the reviews and it occurs to me that some people don't deserve to lay their eyes upon a work of art such as this. Obvious dullards. This book was simply one of the most beautiful reads I have ever had (and I read a lot!). Proud that she hails from Cape Breton. You know when a book affects so many so strongly that the author did something right. LOVED IT!!!
Date published: 2004-01-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hohum I took this book on a cruise. What a mistake. It was very long, very dark, very repetitive. It probably could have been edited by a number of pages. The ending was unrevealing. I already knew what was said. It had been pretty obvious from the beginning of the book what some of the outcomes would be. If you want to be constantly whacked on the side of the head with life within a dysfunctional family, read this book. I did enjoy the Canadian content and information about the Sydney mines and strikes.
Date published: 2003-12-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Look for a deeper meaning This book I read in my grade 13 english class. It was a challenging book to read due to the perverse ways of some of the characters in the book. However, this book challenged me to realize how important my family is to me and how lucky i am to have the family that i have. This book is not a surface read. There are many things that you may look over on your first read or simply just not understand. However this book does come together in the end. Ann marie produced a great work here. With much to discover and very much to learn.
Date published: 2003-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bringing me home.. From the first moment I opened the book, it was like I was pulled into the pages and watching these people quietly from the corner of the room. As they walked into New Waterford or drove to Holy Angels, I saw every step and every detail of the scenery. It was as if I had been brought back to Cape Breton, many years before I was even born! As far as the mystical superstitions, they are all still alive and being spread on that beautiful island. What an incredible book! I could not tear myself away from it, the scenes and characters were so interesting, I could not wait to find out more about them. I can't wait to read it again, once I get it back from my friend!
Date published: 2003-02-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sad This is the only book I have ever felt compelled to write a review on and it has taken 3 years to do that but I haven't changed my mind in that time. I read this book when it first came out and have refused requests from any friends or family members to borrow it. It is the most depressing and degrading piece of work (although literary wise undoubtedly well written) and I kept reading thinking it can't get any worse and things will get better ....wrong; it can and will and does get worse. If you are at your wits end and want to scrap humanity altogether - read this and cinch the deal. Humanity at it's lowest. Sorry its Canadian.
Date published: 2002-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great, except the ending... I really enjoyed this book, but mostly only the first 366 pages. I feel that the book should have ended after Lily left the house in her red boots and green dress, leaving the reader to envision their own conclusion. Instead, we get another 2 sections/books/200 pages of wrap-it-up writing. What a shame. The characters were extraordinarily written, however, and will stay with me a while.
Date published: 2002-09-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Revolting I kept waiting for the unnecessary perversity to end. You can tell a heart-wrenching story without enjoying telling the completely meaningless and distasfull details. Everyone had greatly reviewed it, I kept reading in the hopes of finding out why. Lend it to a friend who had also heard so much about it. She didn't get past page 100. After her comments, for the first time ever or since I brought it to the office to shred. This way I would not be responsible for anybody I knew reading such trash.
Date published: 2002-04-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Free Book There was so much hype about this book, I rushed right out and got it. Why?? I will never know. I can honestly say this was by far the dullest most plotless book I've ever read. It was claimed to be such a page turner. Well, my pages seemed to be turning slower with each passing chapter. If it was supposed to have protrayed termoiled lives, and abuse it failed miserably. I wouldn't waste my breath recommending it, and am disappointed I wasted the $12.00 I did on it.
Date published: 2002-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating and Shocking An international bestseller that is worthy of the title. Ann-Marie MacDonald has created a story and collection of characters that will haunt your thoughts, and perhaps even your dreams! This book is full of colour, metaphor, mystery, and psychological insight. A great read!
Date published: 2002-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's all good Welcome to the club Oprah! It's about time you picked up on this book. I read it when it first came out, I was living in Halifax at the time! After I read it I told everyone I knew to read, I hadn't done that since I read John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. I moved back to Toronto a few years ago and ran into Ann-Marie MacDonald at an Eddie Bauer store and told her about my friend in Vancouver who actually called in sick to work to stay home and finish the book! Another friend was reading it this past summer, it made me what to read it all over again!
Date published: 2002-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding choice of topic This book is so amazing! I have read it about three times, and it gets better each time! It is such a different topic than any of the other books, it is unique and I definetly suggest reading it!
Date published: 2002-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent read! I read this book when it was first published a couple of years ago as it caught my interest being set in Cape Breton, NS, where I grew up. Ann Marie MacDonald has captured the heart of the people. She has had the courage to write about so many taboos that occur behind the closed doors of families. The content of the novel may be disturbing to some, but the truth is not always pleasant. I am so glad Oprah has chosen this book, I thought it was worthy of her book club 2 years ago. Bravo to Canadian authors for getting the recognition they deserve!
Date published: 2002-01-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Combustible material This book was a waste of my time. I struggled to finish (speed reading after a while). The story strives toward being twisted (ridiculous), perverse and disjointed - it succeeds. I found the characters shallow, undeveloped and tiring. I would not recommend this unless you run out of firewood.
Date published: 2002-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding novel! I have never become so entirely immersed in a novel as I did with this one. I experienced each of the characters' triumphs and failures with great emotional intensity. Do not start reading this book unless you have the freedom to throw everything else aside because you will not be able to put it down!
Date published: 2001-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Satisfying Read All the other reviews say it. I just want to add my two cents worth and confirm that this book is a great read. But very tragic in that whether the family secrets had come out into the open earlier or whether they remained hidden(as in the book), the same tradegy would have befallen the family. There's never an easy way out!
Date published: 2001-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on your Knees, by Anne-Marie MacDonald This is a fantastic novel by a brilliant author - who just happens to be Canadian. She spins a yarn that is so riveting that you don't want to put the book down. She keeps you glued to the pages until the last word, on the last line on the last page! And then you put the book down and then it takes a moment to realize that you're back in your own room. The book deserves all of the accolades that it received!
Date published: 2001-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Time, Place and Character Brilliance! I recently finished reading "Fall on Your Knees" after continuous nights of staying up until 3am hoping to catch more of the story. The characters are believable and heartbreaking all at once, and this book shows that it is not just one person that makes a novel. Being a maritimer myself, not only were the character believable, but reading the dramatic descriptions of the rocky cliffs of Cape Breton was just like going home again. MacDonald is a true artist and there is no calling yourself a book addict until you've read this saga.
Date published: 2001-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on your knees This book is very engrossing. I opened it up one day after I found it in my basment and read the whole thing through on one day! It contains so much beauty, so many lovely phrases. It also has a naughty side that you can't help ejoying. Read this book!!! I loved it so much, I'm doing an english ISP on it.
Date published: 2000-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hurray for "Fall on your knees"!! This was the craziest book I ever read. I couldn't put it down and every part I read I gave my boyfriend a play-by play of what was happening. The characters were beautiful, I felt I knew each one personally. Although somewhat disturbing, this was one of the best books I've ever read. It was also chock full of canadian history! I can't wait for her next book.
Date published: 2000-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tangled Web Remains Tangled When I first glanced at this book I thought I was in for one long ride. However, the first sentence caught my attention so that I could not put it down. This story of sin and seduction will keep you glued to the page. It is full of twists and turns with leads you down a path you never thought it would take you. I definitly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something different and twisted.
Date published: 2000-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthy of praise Intriguing. Fall on your Knees is an excellently written and compelling story that will keep you up till the wee hours. The characters come alive as you imagine their circumstances and feel their pain, fear, excitement, and ultimate understanding. You feel as though you are spying on a family in deep unspoken turmoil -- that is how real the words feel as you race from one chapter to the next.
Date published: 2000-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites! Spellbinding. A little odd, yet that is what kept me coming back to it. I always take a long time to finish a book, especially one I can revel in so well. I eagerly look forward to this authour's next work.
Date published: 2000-11-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Yikes...still confused. I am still trying to make my way thru this book. I have mixed feelings about it. I have to finish it...but there are times I'm not sure why..as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the story..I guess I MAY know when I'm done.
Date published: 2000-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A below the belt charmer Such a magnificent book of a caliber rarely seen these days. I nearly cried on more than one occasion during my read!
Date published: 2000-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST read!!!! If you don't have a lot of time to read, do not pick up this book as it will keep you up all night!!!!! A great sad story about family secrets, guilt and love. The best book I've read in the last couple years!!! Don't miss it!
Date published: 2000-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GRIPPING I just loved this book. It was funny, sad and maddening at the same time. The characters were so real and story heartwrenching. A must read.
Date published: 2000-09-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Stay away at all costs!! I have tried time and time again to finish this book, but every time i pick it up, it just get's worse! This twisted story is uncreative and dull, as well as disturbing. It lacked any interest and there was no need for the vivid descriptions of such perverse situations. I was very disappointed as this book was a "national bestseller". I have given up and will not make another attemp to finish it.
Date published: 2000-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read this book! What a great book! I hope this author is working on her next novel. In a matter of 3 months, 5 people in the office read it and loved it as well.
Date published: 2000-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall On Your Knees An excellent story that gives you a taste of the way things were 100 years ago. A brilliant plot that will knock your socks off!!
Date published: 2000-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Unexpected Surprise I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, at first it seemed dark and a bit too focused on the devil and religion for my taste. But I have to admit, I could NOT put the book down, I had to keep reading. It turned out to be a great book. Even all the religious refrences and the somewhat spooky parts of the book helps the reader understand the characters better. I really enjoyed reading it and highly reccomend it!
Date published: 2000-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on your knees I found this to be an excellent read. I couldn't put it down - in any way. Ms. Macdonald has woven a believeable yet mystic tale in a way that really worked for me. I identified in some way with almost every character and found the story to be engaging, pathetic and compelling - and that was without the medication. Thanks, can't wait for the next one!
Date published: 2000-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Overwhelming... Anne Marie MacDonald has blown me away with this novel. How the plot ties together is so fascinating and intricate, that I will surely read this novel many times over. I have already purchased more copies for friends and family, as I cannot lend my copy out! It would be a shame if you did not read this novel, for you would be missing out on the best novel I have ever read!
Date published: 2000-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from READ THIS BOOK! You will read this book and wonder how she came up with such an incredible story and marvel at how beautifully written it is. Prepare for a sleepless night, you won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2000-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Title is Apt--Her Writing Humbles If I was to briefly outline the plot of Fall on Your Knees, it would likely trivialize this astounding piece of literature. Fall on Your Knees is the most masterfully crafted novel I have ever devoured. One should read it for the brilliance of the writing alone. The compelling Canadian context of her tale is icing on the cake. Indeed, Ann-Marie MacDonald's literary gift is humbling. Her title is apt.
Date published: 2000-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from couldn't put it down I read this book 4 times in a row, it was so captivating. I had to keep re-reading it, and each time I read it there was something I had missed before. This portrayal of the human condition is fascinating, insightful, dark, and captivating. I recomend it to everyone
Date published: 2000-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tapestried Fall on Your Knees is a book which reminds me of stained glass windows in a cathedral - a rich, pieced-together work of art which astounds with its beauty, shines in many different lights, yet still retains an entrancing quality of mystery. The novel weaves between generations, and peels back layer upon layer of truth to reveal what lies at the heart of each memorable character. The exotic threads of tradition and food only add to it's depth. It's beautiful and moving, and can't be too highly recommended. Completely deserves each and every award.
Date published: 2000-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Good It's Shocking One of my all time favorites, this is a beautifully written, if sometimes disturbing, story. I felt that I had a unique insight into the minds of the characters and cared deeply about them. The story pulled me along from start to finish. Granted, some of the subject matter seems to offend some people, but I found that some 'hot-button issues' handled so clumsily by so many are given a sensitive, lyrical and unique treatment by Ms. MacDonald. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Date published: 2000-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from INCREDIBLE I read this book twice and can't wait to read it again. I have recommended it to everyone I know! I cannot wait until Ann-Marie writes another novel. I have been waiting patiently for 2 years now. She is one of the most talented authors I have ever experieced. Her story entrances you and gets you more than hooked. How refreshing to know that she is Candaian!!!
Date published: 2000-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfection I chose to read this book for my OAC English Assignment on Canadian Literature. I heard many positive things said about it and, at the same, time one negative thing. So...i HAD to read it. I'm glad i did because it was the best book i've ever read. It was very realistic and impressivly laid out in a twisted plot line that kept me reading. I had high expectations for this book and they were definitely met. I can't wait to read another one of her books!
Date published: 2000-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My Favourite Books! It is not often that I read a novel, months ago, and still think about it. In fact, it has never happened up until now. I received this book as a Christmas present and read it immediately and was completely enthralled. What a complex, heavy, and incredible piece of literature this was! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants something out of the ordinary and with many, many layers. It is worth the initial slow start, because by the end you have had the read of a lifetime.
Date published: 2000-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark yet Enchanting Firstly I'd like to say that this book is absolutely amazing. Ann-Marie MacDonald deserves all the reviews that she's getting. She created an absolutely masterful novel.
Date published: 2000-05-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I was addicted to this Book! If you have anything important to do for the next few days, DO NOT pick up this book because you will not put it down until it is done. This story is infectious, no...addictive! The author leads you down a path. You can see what's waiting for you at the clearing, when suddenly you are grabbed and pulled into the thick darkness of the woods. Only **** because the ending is a little too Jerry Springer (read predictable and staged) for my tastes.
Date published: 2000-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awsome This book is outstanding. It took me 2 weeks to read it, its 566 pages. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2000-03-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Obviously written by a sick mind Would not recommned it for young people. It is a pile of trash.
Date published: 2000-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from awesome I am in the middle of reading this book and I love it so much I can't even put it down. It is so good I recommend that everone read it even though it is sooo... long.
Date published: 2000-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Really Good Book! This book reminded me of "Tully" by Paulina Simmons, except it was a bit slower. It started to build up after the first few chapters and I couldn't wait to find out what happened! Highly recommendable to those who like stories about families, friends, & lovers! You begin to think of them as real people, instead of characters out of a book. Well written!
Date published: 2000-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is rare to find such a beautifully written novel with such engaging characters. I have never been so sad to finish a book.... I wanted it to last forever. I eagerly await a new work from Ms MacDonald
Date published: 2000-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from overwhelming This is the best book I have ever read. I have been continuing to look for another book by her because I loved it so much. I haven't read a better book than that, ever!
Date published: 1999-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on Your Knees Excellent read. Just couldn't put it down. Twists that will take you completely by surprise.
Date published: 1999-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!!! I had heard Fall On Your Knees was good, but this book exceeded my expectations. An incredibly beautiful story that keeps you spellbound and always anxious to read the next page. Just read it, already! It's too good to miss!
Date published: 1999-12-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Took Me a Year To Finish Because it's so Dull This book is the pits. Another Canadiana incest story. It took me a year to finish because there are so many better books to read, I kept getting distracted and someone said the end was good. It isn't.
Date published: 1999-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent!! This is, hands down, the best book I have read in a very long time. I can't beleive Susan from Toronto gave it such an undeserving rating. I sure would like to browse through her library because, if she felt this book was that bad, there must be some really great books out there that I don't know about. Fall on Your Knees is definitely a must read!
Date published: 1999-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivated I was captivated by this book.MacDonald helps us to know this family in our gut. I was and am a Cape Bretoner,so I know these places and expressions.My daughter and I went in search of the landmarks on a recent visit back to C.B., but the book is so much more than that.Can't wait for the next one Ann Marie.
Date published: 1999-12-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sold it for 50 cents at a yard sale This book was recommended to me by a fellow Nova Scotian, indeed a Cape Bretoner, with the advice that it might give me some insight into my own family's history! I am still trying to forgive her for this unbelievable lack of tact after reading what I concluded was one of the most highly over-rated novel of the past five years. Yes, there is plenty of "darkness", complexity, drama, sex, violence, childbirth hell and childhoods from hell. But these hackneyed dramatic devices only sensationalize what is only too familiar in the lives of many children and adults: abuse, compulsions, loneliness, unhappiness. Sure the characters are sympathetic and, in some cases, fairly realistic. After all, we all know victims who lead melodramatic, difficult lives. But by the end of the book my head was swirling from obvious plot twists, a fairly predictable conclusion, and more bodice-ripping than I care to read about in so-called serious literature.
Date published: 1999-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read. I heard, while riding on the subway one day, quite by accident, someone mention that they were reading this book. The only desciption offered was "Cape Breton and Catholics". On that alone, I picked it up. Excellent in a tortured Wuthering Heights sort of way. It bogs down in the use of a journal narrative at one point but end to end just an absolutely excellent book. It is a book I recommend to people time and time again. Much better than Fugitive Pieces, comparable to A Fine Balance.
Date published: 1999-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enthralling 'Fall On Your Knees' is enthralling. It is both poetic and perverse. At the same time it presents a historical record of the social, racial and cultural factors that were central to the development of Canada's Maritime Provinces and to New York. You Will hardly find such information in the text books.
Date published: 1999-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from an accidental find!!! I found Fall on Your Knees by accident. I needed to do a report, so after searching around the library I grabbed the last book I looked at and said O.K. this is it. I didn't realize that I was in for the read of a lifetime. Never have I been in such awe of a fictional family. There were times when I felt the need to hug, slap, or walk beside one of the characters, forgetting that they weren't real. MacDonald will stand out in my mind as writer forever. Not only are the characters realistic but her writing surpasses many. Finally someone who uses our English Language the way it is supposed to be used, eliquently!!!!!!
Date published: 1999-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on your knees in awe! When a friend recommended this book, I was hesitant because I had just been disappointed by another recommendation to read She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. But the disappointment never came. Right from when I turned the first page, I was hooked. MacDonald has a wonderful insight into the human soul. Her ability to tell a beautiful story even when the plot line is horrifying is amazing. I finished this novel with a lot of regret but anxiously await MacDonald's next novel.
Date published: 1999-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous This was a wonderful book. I could not put it down. I cried when I finished it and I wanted more. It is so creative, all of the characters come alive. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story.
Date published: 1999-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall On Your Knees This is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature I have ever laid my hands. It is one of these books where you expect one thing to happen, and the exact opposite occurs. It is ironic, funny and riveting.
Date published: 1999-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wicked The best book ever!!!
Date published: 1999-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on Your Knees This is one of the best books I have ever read! I would recommend it to anyone. This is the kind of book you'll read over and over and get something new out of it each time.
Date published: 1999-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An astoundingly beautiful book The fact that Ann-Marie McDonald did not win the Governer General's award for fiction for Fall on Your Knees is proof of that prize's regard for legacy instead of talent. I can't remember when i've enjoyed a book more. Her character's are so fully realized that I found myself dreaming about them at night. Nearing the end of the book I started rationing out the number of pages I would allow myself to read so that I could prolong the experience for as long as possible. The book reads like the best biographies, but peppered with truths no one would ever want to tell. I felt like I was reading someone's diary, or sitting on the floor listening to an old woman recount the events that shook her life. Bravo.
Date published: 1999-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall on your knees Without a doubt this is one of the best books I have read in the last five years. The poetic use of language and the dark tale of incest are spookily meshed into a novel that will stand the test of time. I have the privilege of managing a Chapters in Winnipeg and I sell this book every chance I get. I've also had a chance to meet with the author. She was very generous and articulate.
Date published: 1999-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Contemporary classic From the first paragraph to the last, a completely engrossing read. In the spirit of The Prince of Tides, a book about the complete range of family relationships that you only put down in order to meet work obligations. The characters are ones you just do not want to stop reading about. MacDonald has a prodigious knack for evoking vivid images in relatively few words strung together in simple language. An inspiring debut that leaves the reader wanting to be notified the minute the ink in her next book is dry. Simply put, a contemporary classic.
Date published: 1999-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fantastic story. This is a fabulous story. It is dark, but there is humor and warmth and the characters are wonderful. I loved it from beginning to end.
Date published: 1999-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from hello Excellent book but comparing Frances to Hagar Shipley? I just don't get it those 2 characters are nothing alike.
Date published: 1999-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall On Your Knees Absolutely the best novel I have ever read. MacDonald's writing is amazing. I laughed, cried, gasped and was shocked all at the same time. An amazing story incredibly well written - I could not put it down - hopefully McDonald blesses us with another book soon!
Date published: 1999-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from totally excellent Fall on your Knees is one of the stand-out books of the last few years. Fresh but savvy in its approach, MacDonald gives us a model to understand the Canadian mental landscape by. We are by turns uplifted, humbled, and strengthened through our journey with the Pipers. MacDonald has already delighted us with her Goodnight Desdemona, Good morning Juliet, and with Fall on Your Knees, she's set her sights on joining other great Canadian luminaries, such as Robertson Davies. Like Davies' works, MacDonald doesn't sacrifice the primacy of story-telling to style. Fall on Your Knees is going to stand as a landmark novel, an important translation of who we are, culled from who we used to be.
Date published: 1999-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling story with wonderful characters This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is not a light, joyful read - there are many tragedies and heartaches, but the story and characters are unforgettable. I can't wait for MacDonald's next book!
Date published: 1999-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from anticipating more A trully excellent novel. The plot just never stops. A good book is discovered when you realize that you are sad to reach the end. Read, re-read and recommend.
Date published: 1999-04-15

– More About This Product –

Fall on Your Knees

by Ann-marie Macdonald

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 576 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 1.21 in

Published: December 6, 1998

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394281780

ISBN - 13: 9780394281780

Read from the Book

Silent Pictures They''re all dead now. Here''s a picture of the town where they lived. New Waterford. It''s a night bright with the moon. Imagine you are looking down from the height of a church steeple, onto the vivid gradations of light and shadow that make the picture. A small mining town near cutaway cliffs that curve over narrow rock beaches below, where the silver sea rolls and rolls, flattering the moon. Not many trees, thin grass. The silhouette of a colliery, iron tower against a slim pewter sky with cables and supports sloping at forty-five-degree angles to the ground. Railway tracks that stretch only a short distance from the base of a gorgeous high slant of glinting coal, towards an archway in the earth where the tracks slope in and down and disappear. And spreading away from the collieries and coal heaps are the peaked roofs of the miners'' houses built row on row by the coal company. Company houses. Company town. Look down over the street where they lived. Water Street. An avenue of packed dust and scattered stones that leads out past the edge of town to where the wide, keeling graveyard overlooks the ocean. That sighing sound is just the sea. Here''s a picture of their house as it was then. White, wood frame with the covered veranda. It''s big compared to the miners'' houses. There''s a piano in the front room. In the back is the kitchen where Mumma died. Here''s a picture of her the day she died. She had a stroke while cleaning the oven. Which is how the docto
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From the Publisher

“What a wild ride — I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough,” Oprah Winfrey told her viewers as she announced Fall on Your Knees as her February 2002 Book Club selection. Set largely in a Cape Breton coal mining community called New Waterford, ranging through four generations, Ann-Marie MacDonald’s dark, insightful and hilarious first novel focuses on the Piper sisters and their troubled relationship with their father, James. Winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, it was a national bestseller in Canada for two years, and it has been translated into 17 languages.

At the start of the 20th century, James Piper sets fire to his dead mother’s piano and heads out across Cape Breton Island to find a new place to live, eventually eloping with 13-year-old Materia Mahmoud, the daughter of wealthy, traditional Lebanese parents. And so, from early on, Ann-Marie MacDonald establishes some major themes: racial tension, isolation, passion and forbidden love, which will gradually lead to incest, death in childbirth, and even murder. At the centre of this epic story is the nature of family love, beginning with the Piper sister who depend on one another for survival. Their development as characters — beautiful Kathleen, the promising diva; saintly Mercedes; Frances, the mischievous bad girl, who tries to bear the family’s burden; and disabled Lily, everyone’s favourite — forms the heart of the novel. And then there is James, their flawed father.

Moving from Cape Breton Island to the battlefields of World War I, to Harlem in New York’s Jazz Age and the Depression, the tense and enthralling plot of Fall on Your Knees contains love, pain, death, joy, and triumph. The structure of the narrative is multi-faceted, richly layered, and shifts back and forth through time as it approaches the story from different angles, “giving it a mythic quality that allows dark, half buried secrets to be gracefully and chillingly revealed” (The New York Times Book Review). As the details of the labyrinthine plot are pulled together, the question of whether it is possible to escape one’s family history gradually raises itself.

The book’s epigraph, taken from Wuthering Heights, seems appropriate to a novel concerned with the different, often violent, forms that love can take. On the inexorable journey towards tragedy we encounter dark yet vivid images of neglect and violence, yet the novel radiates an unquenchable life-force, and yet the novel radiates an unquenchable life-force, shimmering with emotional depth, sensual with virtuoso descriptions of the power of music. It is a saga haunted by ghosts and saints, religious fanaticism and magic. MacDonald gives the most ordinary lives extraordinarily dramatic dimensions.

The Sunday Times wrote, "It is the unpredictability of this huge book that is its greatest joy." With allusions ranging from Hollywood stars to religious tracts, Fall on Your Knees simmers with vibrancy and crackling, effervescent, breathtaking language.

About the Author

Ann-Marie MacDonald was born in West Germany and spent the first few years of her life on a Canadian air force station near Baden Baden. Her father was an officer in the RCAF and the family was posted numerous times. She attended one year at Carleton University, Ottawa, studying languages and Classics. She went to the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal where she trained as an actor, graduating from the program in 1980. She moved to Toronto where she began an acting career. She soon became involved in creating original Canadian work in a number of contexts: collective creation, collaboration and solo writing. The work always combined theatrical innovation, politics and entertainment. She worked as an independent artist, with Nightwood Theatre and Theatre Passe Muraille as her principal theatre “homes.” Her seminal works include the collective creation This is For You, Anna , and the multi-episodic Nancy Drew: Clue in the Fast Lane . Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) was MacDonald’s first solo-authored work. She continued to work as an actor in theatres across the country and in many independent films, including I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing , Where the Spirit Lives and Better Than Chocolate . As well, she guest-starred on numerous television series, most recently Made in Canada . MacDonald was last on stage in the spring of 2001 when she starred in a sold-out production of Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the Bluma Appel
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Author Interviews

1) Can you tell us how you became a writer?
I became a writer through the theatre. As an actor I started collaborating–writing shows collectively until I started writing plays on my own. Then I wrote a book. I started writing it as a play until I got stuck and realized a play was the wrong form.

2) What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?
No, I like stories.

3) What is the major theme in this book?
One theme is diversity and truth struggling its way to the surface.

4) Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?
I love them all equally.

5) Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?
Have a drink. Enjoy. Yell.

6) Do you have a favourite story to tell about being interviewed about your book?
There was a Vietnam veteran in a suburb of Minneapolis who had not read the book. But then he agreed informally to be interviewed by me about his war time experiences.

7) Which authors have been most influential to your own writing?
Charlotte Bronte, The Beatles, Northrope Frye. I love authors and books but I get influenced by life.

From Our Editors

Ann-Marie MacDonald's heroine, Frances Piper, joins Margaret Laurence's Hagar Shipley and Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne as one of the most fascinating and multifaceted female characters in Canadian fiction. This epic novel was the winner of the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel and the Globe and Mail Editors' Choice and Notable Book of the Year Award. Fall On Your Knees is a complex narrative about family secrets and the deeply buried events, memories and motivations behind human relationships. It was also shortlisted for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.

Editorial Reviews

"Magnetic… a dizzying leap into a mind so rich and complex you spend almost as much time marvelling how she got there as enjoying the results… Compelling and original… MacDonald succeeds brilliantly in building a world that, at least for the satisfying length of time it takes to finish Fall On Your Knees , gloriously supersedes all else." — Financial Post "Beautiful… this big, bold, epic shocker of a novel reads as if John Irving met Joyce Carol Oates. It is history told with a thumping, complex narrative… a host of colourful characters and a great big bow to psychology… Fall On Your Knees is the work of a big talent. It''s a wild ride." — Chicago Tribune "[MacDonald is] a first-rate novelist.... [She] paints a Cape Breton landscape steeped in human emotion ... She has found the language of the heart that runs below everyday discourse.... There is no resisting this story." — The Globe and Mail "Ann-Marie MacDonald — one of Canada''s most talented actors and playwrights — has provided us with yet another aspect of a talent that has no limits." —Timothy Findley "Brilliant... Profoundly and refreshingly different.... MacDonald has constructed a plot worthy of Victor Hugo... A standout." — Vancouver Sun "MacDonald is a master of exciting story-telling, of suspense and surprise." — The Montreal Gazette "... a narrative presence that c
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Bookclub Guide

1. A cedar box, a diary, a green dress, a scarecrow — examine MacDonald''s use of repeated imagery in her exploration of family history. Are her interpretations of memory intended to be naturalistic? How does this square with her use of the spiritual life in this novel? What, for example, does Ambrose ''mean'' to Lily and Francis, and why does Pete haunt Kathleen?

2. Examine your sympathies with the family members of this book. Does the author manipulate or confuse the alliances of the reader? How does she handle revelation? Try to define the way in which the narrator relates to the reader. The internal logic of the book is also defined by the ways in which the characters ''decide'' to interpret each others'' behaviour — are you surprised by the shifts in allegiance throughout the book — where does the force for these changes come from?

3. ''That night, the Virgin Mary tells her what to do.'' (p.561) Could you have predicted the course of Mercedes'' life? What do you take MacDonald to mean in her use of religion to shape Mercedes, and what do you understand about Mercedes from the ways in which she chooses to respond to events? How closely do the sisters mirror each others'' behaviour?

4. ''The knowledge that it is to be a coloured child is most useful in determining its future. First of all, there is now no question of keeping it. Illegitimacy is a terrible but invisible blot, whereas miscegenation cannot be concealed.'' (p.393) The book addresses several major themes of conflict in the 20th Century — racial strife and inequality, sexuality, religious oppression and belief, poverty. Is MacDonald successful in her integration of such powerful topics into this intimate family history? What methods does she use to sustain the pace of the narrative throughout the 560-odd pages of the book? Some of the revelations of the character make for uncomfortable reading — is the author consciously trying to alienate the reader, shock them? If so, is she successful, and why do you think she adopted this approach?

5. ''Frances''s eyes burst open. She had a dream about Trixie just now.'' (p.373) As a plot device, what function does Trixie serve?

6. Frances manifests a particularly brittle variety of humour and resilience. Compare her responses to ''damage'' with those of her sisters, mother and father. What do you consider Frances''s principal motivations to be, and to what use has the author put these, in her construction of this book? What do you consider the author intends us to understand from her use of illness and affliction in this book?

7. How do you interpret the ''visions'' and ''intuition'' of the sisters towards each other? What do you consider MacDonald is interested in exploring by this added dimension to the story? Do you think our understanding of the personal histories is intended to change our perception of the ''public'' record of War history in Fall On Your Knees? Which characters constitute the most obvious links between the private and public?

8. ''The cave mind has entered into a creative collaboration with the voluntary mind, and soon the two of them will cocoon memory in a spinning wealth of dreams and yarns and fingerpaintings.'' (p.151) Memory and its reinvention are central to the sisters'' survival techniques in the book; how does the structure of the book assist in our understanding of this?

9. Do the histories, for example, of prohibition, or the miners strikes, serve as functional plot devices or as a metaphor?

10. How precisely imagined is this book? How important is this in the revelation of plot? Consider the book in relation to linear time. How much is this book about Kathleen''s history, and how does our understanding of the circumstances of her life reflect on our reading of other characters?

11. Compare the symbolism of this book with the magic realism of Rushdie or Márquez. How does your understanding of ''magic realism'' inform your reading of this work, if at all?

12. Consider the roles of Mrs. and Ralph Luvovitz, Leo Taylor, Theresa, Hector and Adelaide, and what light their interior life sheds on that of the Pipers. How does Frances compare with Theresa? Attempt to describe the relationship between the two. Which characters do you consider to be least successful in the story?

13. What do you take the meaning of the title of the book to be? How do the chapter headings, along with the quotes and passages that preface each section of the book serve to enhance your reading?

14. ''Frances has recently revealed a natural talent in the kitchen. She cooks and cooks. Roasts and curries, stews and casseroles. It''s mystifying. Frances is like one of those strange persons who awake one morning and play the complete works of Bach with never a lesson.'' (p.429) Discuss the roles of books, clothes, music and food in Fall On Your Knees. How many central themes are explored using these symbols?

15. Do you think that the ''real'' aspects of the novel — MacDonald''s powerful evocation of the trenches, for example — change the way in which we view the fictional lives she explores? Does the juxtaposition of ''known'' history give more weight to the author''s intent?

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