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Fall on Your Knees OMG, I hated this book It was painful to read I spent a good 3 hours trying to read this book and ended up skimming the rest of it so I could be done with it MacDonald covers just about every topic in her book: racial tension, isolation, domestic abuse, and forbidden love, which leads to incest, death, and even murder, but does it in a very complicated way that will turn many readers away I consider myself a strong readerone who has fantastic reading comprehension but this book tests even the strongest of readers I felt that I had to read for days in order to get the jest of what she wrote about 3050 pages back It was ridiculous.I consider myself pretty open to reading just about anything but this one just was too much.I think I'll stick to my VC Andrews for my abuse and incest stories She does them so much better than MacDonald didand that's not saying much is it?I'll give it 1 star but to be honest I wish Zero stars was an optionmaybe even negative ones I will not be reading any of her books.updated shelves June 2011: zero stars due to skimming and not fully reading They are the Pipers of Cape Breton Island — a family steeped in lies and unspoken truths that reach out from the past, forever mindful of the tragic secret that could shatter the family to its foundations Chronicling five generations of this eccentric clan, Fall on Your Knees follows four remarkable sisters whose lives are filled with driving ambition, inescapable family bonds, and forbidden love Their experiences will take them from their stormswept homeland, across the battlefields of World War I, to the freedom and independence of Jazzera New York CityCompellingly written, running the literary gamut from menacingly dark to hilariously funny, this is an epic saga of one family’s trials and triumphs in a world of sin, guilt, and redemption 2.5 stars !Jaidee fell on his knees and screamedAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!!How can a book that is written well with many excellent elements cause such dire frustration and become a hodgepodge mess????Ms Macdonald is a very good writer with wonderful ideas that seem limitless but unfortunately she tried to fit them all in the span of one novel There are a thousand stories in here and none get developed She creates a number of interesting characters only to plaster them withandmakeup and gaudier and gaudier costumes that take them from being flesh and blood to Vaudeville players This book is like taking first rate ingredients and putting them all together in a stew without any thought to how they will taste together.She piles dysfunction on top of dysfunction on top of dysfunction so that something that is initially interesting becomes histrionic and then just plain tedious.I will try another novel of hers at some point and see if she has been able to direct her talent into somethingcohesive, whole and ultimately satisfying. For 15 years (19962010), Oprah Winfrey picked books for her book club Out of the 69 titles that she chose only 13 (19%) have appeared in at least any of the three (2006, 2008, 2010) editions of Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die:4 by TONI MORRISON (Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon) 2 by CHARLES DICKENS (A Tale of the Two Cities and Great Expectations) 2 by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera) 1 each by LEO TOLSTOY (Anna Karenina), ALAN PATTON (Cry, My Beloved Country), JONATHAN FRANZEN (The Corrections), BARBARA KINGSOLVER (The Poisonwood Bible), BERNARD SCHLINK (The Reader), and ANNMARIE MACDONALD Wait, AnnMarie, who?You see, for me, her name does not really ring a bell Similar to the names of others in the list like Pearl Cleage, Sheri Reynolds, Mary McGarry Morris, Edwidge Danticat, Billie Leats, Bret Lott, Melinda Haynes, Breena Clarke, Gwyn Hayman Rubio and Malika Oufkir I think, they all became household names because their books were picked by Oprah What was being included in the Most Influential People lists for so many years if she could not rally people to read her chosen books I must admit that I read David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth because of Oprah’s stamp However, I have had no motivation to read right away her other choices including Fall on Your Knees because of what Jonathan Franzen said in the interview that Oprah’s picks cateredfor readers who were women than men.On the superficial level, that still is my main comment for this book, Fall on Your Knees by AnnMarie MacDonald The story of 3 sisters: Kathleen the eldest She is beautiful, a musical genius and an apple of the eye of his father; Mercedes, may not be as pretty as her siblings but she stood as the mother for her sisters when their mother died; Frances is as beautiful as Kathleen and she suffered in the hands of their father when the latter came back from the war Joining them is Lily who is the daughter of Kathleen and a twin of the baby infant Ambrose who accidentally died in the hands of Frances when he and Lily were born The 3 sisters’ mother, Materia completes the list of female characters She is the only daughter of a wealthy Lebanese businessman She defied her parents who wished that she would marry a dentist by eloping with her husband, James So, the only male main character is the father James who may be goodintentioned and has big dreams for her children but he is weak to resist temptation and to overcome the psychological effects of war.So, there you go: 5 strong female characters versus 1 weak male character So the mostly female adorers of Oprah cheer and clap their hands when Oprah raises the book and says “Hail, hail, read this book as I could not keep my hands from flipping over the pages while reading this!”However, for me, there are three saving graces for this book And this maybe the reason why Oprah just flipped and flipped the pages till the wee hours of the morning:1 Brilliant first chapter that begins with “They are all dead now” then you follow the camera that zooms in to the things that the previous occupants of the house possessed and used.2 Characterdriven plot MacDonald’s characters are bigger than the old familiar themes (family love, sisterly love, incest, war, etc) that we have all seen in the movies and read in similar books Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres easily came to my mind For one, MacDonald was never melodramatic and you don’t close the book feeling emotionally cheated.3 Having said that, the denouement is wellhandled The use of the family tree not only wraps up the whole story but it provides the symbolism of the book’s main theme: family love, that no matter what we do, at the end of our lives, what matters most is our family Then when you close the book, you know who the narrator of the first chapter should be Well thought of novel Well organized Well written For a first time writer, this is just amazing Now, I no longer wonder why the Boxall’s 1001 editors chose this book over thepopular Oprah titles like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, The Pillars of the Earth, The Road, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, East of Eden, I Know This Much is True, She’s Come Undone or The Deep End of the Ocean. I was in a super geeky frame of mind when I read this book in early spring of 2012 I had been reading books about metaphors (see I told you geeky) And as fate would have it I picked up this book suggested probably via the stream of books suggested onafter you look at a book title there—right after my nerdy metaphor phase I literally started writing down metaphors I came across in the prose of this book AMAZING Beautiful I'm not talking about similes or simple comparisons people I'm talking about brilliant metaphors,that blow my mind!! the glass panes gloated the silvery sea flatters the moon.cleanliness of steel born of soot.Shivering slightly at the unaccustomed breeze passing through the new spaces in her spine.She fell through a crack in time without spilling a drop When she returned the tea was still piping hot.Teresa smiles at her Frances collects the moment and puts in in a safe place, with 2 or 3 others (other moments isn't that brilliant!?)The air (New York) is what the Gods live on.Sits down (in train station) serenaded by the (noisy) crowd.(Scared) It's autumn in her mouth and all her tongue can do is rustle (Upon waking) Light in eyes: she buries her face in her pillow because the light is an eye operation in the scalpel light.Kathleen is an abandoned mine (after csection/death)knocking) The door is thumping like a heart attack.(happy)He was Aladdin in an orchard dripping with diamonds.It was all boarded up, but he set to work, prying planks off windows, healing the blind.Her hair smells like the raw edge of spring.(he was a) Cucumber in a woollen suit (vs cool as a cucumber).A bookish girl, plain as a rainy Tuesday.And possibly my very mostest favoriteest one of all: enough merchandise to Mephistophelize a miner's wife.I didn't know that word could be a verb!! :)Oh the story? The Plot? Also fabulous WORTH READING Worth reading twice Follows a young man in Nova Scotia and his life in a mining town His young wife, their children and later the story of the children's lives Epic Amazing Disgusting Compelling Sweet Horrible EVERYTHING a wonderful novel should be (and is) Okay just go read it already. This book reminded me of a grownup VC Andrews, except you can read it on the subway without feeling like a pervy 12 yearold Very Gothic at times and the crazy family drama had me reading nonstop, despite all the main characters being unlikeable assholes in one way or another One thing that bugged me was that some of the writing didn't seem historically accurate Did people in the 1920s really say barf? Maybe they did, I don't know Regardless, I couldn't put this down and I blew through it in a couple days. I have had this piece by AnnMarie MacDonald on my toread shelf for a significant amount of time, but never found the time to read it When I took the plunge, I kicked myself for waiting so long, as there was a great deal to enjoy within it and seems worthy of the accolades it’s received New Waterford, Nova Scotia is a small town on Cape Breton Island, along Canada’s East Coast At the turn of the 20th century, things were bustling and the population quite varied It was this that brought James Piper and Materia Mahmoud together in a union of forbidden love James, who is without a strong religious morality, did not sit well with the staunch Catholic Mahmouds, whose Lebanese background left them little choice but to disown Materia Once married, the Pipers began building the foundation of their family, which included a slew of daughters: Kathleen, Mercedes, Frances, and much later on, Lily What follows is a tale of drama and intrigue that pushes the Pipers to the brink In a family so apparently tightlywoven is a pile of secrets, both from the outside world and amongst themselves, that no unit could be expected to come out of it without cracks With a skill all her own, Kathleen heads to New York City to pursue a dream while James leaves to fight in the Great War for Canada (and Britain) By the end of the skirmish, both of them would experience lifealtering events that would change the narrative forever Struck by a number of tragedies in short order, the Pipers grow and evolve in a multigenerational story that exemplifies how decisions are catalysts for familial metamorphosis As the years pass, some of these secrets come to the surface, while new and devastating ones emerge, taking these Piper women to new depths as they try to define themselves against the backdrop of an everchanging smalltown Canada feel Brilliant in its delivery, MacDonald holds the reader’s attention throughout Recommended to those who love familial sagas that build on themselves, as well as the reader who prefers smalltown stories and their unique narrative pathways.I remember reading another of MacDonald’s novels years ago and being fully committed from the getgo The story, the style, and the characters all came together nicely and left me wantingHowever, I never found the push to reach for this book and actually read it until now This story sees many of the Pipers take the protagonist’s seat and so I won’t choose just one That being said, I can admit that all of these characters come together effectively to complement one another and help thicken the plot while aiding in creating wonderful backstory and development for one another From the struggles of raising a family in the early 20th century to familial abandonment, the shock of war to the loss of a loved one, the confusion of one’s place in the family unit to finding a place in the world All these are struggles faced throughout this powerful book whose narrative never lets the reader take a breath MacDonald contrasts all these against a time when speaking out was less fashionable and the mighty hand came down on those who stepped out of line Using Nova Scotia as a setting was brilliant, as it adds evento the story, both for its wonderful scenery and less electrified feel McDonald is able to inject some big city moments in New York, but there is something about the sheltered life on Cape Breton that spoke to me With detailed chapters that serveas family vignettes, MacDonald paints a wonderful picture of events as they progress throughout history While this is a long book, it is sure to grip the reader in such a way that the pages will flow easily and the plot will keep the story moving Patience is a virtue and MacDonald rewards that type of reader throughout this piece Kudos, Madam MacDonald, for this stunning piece that opened my eyes to so very much about the time, the region, and your writing!Love/hate the review? An evergrowing collection of others appears at: Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: An amazingly harsh view of the hardships of life.This book is most definitely one of my favorites It is absolutely amazing It's scandalous, it's real, it's intriguing, it's just plain good! MacDonald's writing style creates an interactive world that pulls you in to first person view of the characters' lives The story follows the Piper family, a unique little set up of father and four daughters Mr Piper's wife has passed, leaving him to fend for himself in a home bursting to the seams with the drama of being a young girl growing up with three other sisters Kathleen, the eldest of the girls, has been sent away to live out her father's vision of fame and perfection with her glorious voice Left behind are Frances (a fiesty middle child who lives by her own rules), Lily (the youngest of the four, living with a crippled leg and a strong desire to please and do good), and Mercedes (the second eldest, longing to take the place of their late mother and following her faith closely and fiercely) Each girl has their own story which is brimming with secrets that are both outrageous and real Mystery is around every corner, and controversy hides behind each one If I had to describe it in one word, it would be intense Every story is intertwined in surprising and unexpected ways It's difficult to not fall in love with someone in the novel because there really is somebody for everyone to relate to If you can stomach some harsh, dramatic reality with believable characters in a world covered with a dark veil of the unexpected, then this book may be the right way to go. 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?”“Yes.” This is AnnMarie 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 alsothan 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. Okay this is the second Oprah's Book Club book that I've read and, like DROWNING RUTH(Christina Schwartz), I disliked the story due to the disturbingly depressing plot In DROWNING RUTH, the whole idea of a mentallyill and controlling aunt (Amanda) ruining the life of her little niece (Ruth) after the girl's mother (Mathilda) mysteriously fell through the ice and drowned one cold winter eve was merely depressing; in FALL ON YOUR KNEES, however,the pervading theme of incest wasthan distressing, it was just downright gross (and this is from an openminded reader NOT easily shocked or bothered by sexual content!) Although I am always interested in reading books that deal with sensitive and even shocking topics (sometimes this makes a bookinteresting!), I just don't find a need to experience incest in such poetic prose!There's one thing I don't get in the description on the back cover, the story is called menacingly dark and hilariously funny and it is also called darkly humorous Maybe I'm missing something or perhaps I'm not sophisticated enough, but I just don't see any humor at all in this distressing tale and, like I said, I'm a very openminded reader!

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