Fall on Your Knees

( 163 )

Overview

Following the curves of history in the first half of the twentieth century, Fall on Your Knees takes us from haunted Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, through the battlefields of World War I, to the emerging jazz scene in New York City, and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The mythically charged family?James, a father of intelligence and immense ambition; Materia, his Lebanese child-bride; and their daughters: Kathleen, the eldest, a beautiful talent preparing for a career as an opera diva; Frances, ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (2) from $5.47   
  • Used (2) from $5.47   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$5.47
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(22909)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Acceptable
Our feedback rating says it all: Five star service and fast delivery! We have shipped four million items to happy customers, and have one MILLION unique items ready to ship today!

Ships from: Toledo, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.96
Seller since 2006

Feedback rating:

(59850)

Condition: Good
Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase benefits world literacy!

Ships from: Mishawaka, IN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Fall On Your Knees

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.38
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

Following the curves of history in the first half of the twentieth century, Fall on Your Knees takes us from haunted Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, through the battlefields of World War I, to the emerging jazz scene in New York City, and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The mythically charged family—James, a father of intelligence and immense ambition; Materia, his Lebanese child-bride; and their daughters: Kathleen, the eldest, a beautiful talent preparing for a career as an opera diva; Frances, incorrigible liar and hell-bent bad girl; Mercedes, obsessive Catholic and protector of the flock; and Lily, the adored invalid who takes us on a quest for truth and redemption—is supported by a richly textured cast of characters. Fall on Your Knees is a story of inescapable family bonds, of terrible secrets, of miracles, racial strife, attempted murder, birth and death, and forbidden love.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Much-lauded Canadian actress and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald -- winner of several prestigious drama awards for her play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) -- turns her hand to fiction with this remarkable debut novel. The sweeping saga of a deeply troubled Nova Scotia family, Fall on Your Knees is an anguished yet wise and darkly humorous tale that weaves deftly back and forth in time to cover five generations of the Piper clan -- from late-19th-century Nova Scotia to the battlefields of World War I to Manhattan's vibrant 1920s music scene, and back to Nova Scotia. MacDonald gracefully tackles tragic events and disturbing secrets -- rape, incest, death, disease, the stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancy -- that come to light as family members search for truth, understanding, and redemption.
Rachel Stoll
At her brightest moments, when various cultures and voices clash and merge in a great rush of energetic prose, MacDonald nears Rushdie-like height.
San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
Liesel Litzenburger
Fall on Your Knees does not disappoint; this is an ambitiously big story—refreshingly old-fashioned in its wide scope, the sheer number of central characters, and the tale's own epic-like complexity.
Detroit News Flash Free Press
Industries Staff Scosche
This big, bold, epic-shocker of a novel reads as if John Irving met Joyce Carol Oats in her Gothic.…It's a wild ride.
Chicago Tribune
Book of Books
By turns dark and hilariously funny, this stunning fiction debut by an award-winning writer and actor takes readers on a mystically charged journey spanning five generations of one family's sin, guilt, and redemption -- a narrative feast of racial strife, miracles, terrible secrets, and a passionate, enduring love.
Publishers Weekly
Not a single line is superfluous in this richly layered tale of the secrets within several generations of a Canadian family. Both feverishly intense and darkly humorous, the drama of the Piper family emerges amidst a backdrop of racial tension and social change in Canada during the first half of the 20th century. Piano tuner James Piper dotes on his beautiful and musically talented eldest daughter, Kathleen, almost to the exclusion of everyone else, including his Lebanese wife and his other daughters. After Kathleen's death during childbirth and his wife's suicide a few days later, James forbids any mention of Kathleen's name. But the bitter fruit of illicit passion will continue to take its toll on Kathleen's survivors. Though the mortality rate in this family sometimes challenges credibility, playwright and actress MacDonald's ambitious first novel displays a remarkable assurance of style, pacing and plotting as unexpected twists propel a complex story that builds inexorably to tragedy. MacDonald uses the surface tension and love between James and his daughters to explore the repercussions of repression, sin, guilt and violence that simmer beneath the family's delicately maintained equilibrium. Her gifts for character development, comic dialogue and vivid evocation of social milieu and specific background detail-from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, to New York City in the 1920s-add texture to an entrancing narrative. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selections; author tour. (Apr.) FYI: MacDonald began this book as a play but finished it five years later as her first work of fiction. Fall on Your Knees was previously published in Canada, where it rose to the top of the bestseller lists.
Philippa Gregory
A magnificent novel...[Fall on Your Knees] falls into the current traditions of a big story widely told, a story of historical change in a community of crime half-revealed through a family's memories and fearful secrets slowly revealed.
The London Sunday Times
Emma Perry
A phenomenal novel....These are the sorts of characters, both beautiful and ugly, who stay with you forever.
Time Out London
Kirkus Reviews
From award-winning Canadian actress and playwright MacDonald comes a full-bodied, ever-rolling debut, the story of a talented Cape Breton family with more than its share of repression and tragedy.

As the 19th century ends, young James Piper travels from the Breton hinterland to the civilized port of Sydney seeking his fortune, and in no time at all he acquires a child bride, a house built by his Lebanese father-in-law, and the everlasting enmity of his wife's powerful family. Although the ardor between James and his spouse soon cools, they now have a daughter, Kathleen, who seems destined for great things when her breathtaking voice and beauty begin to captivate all as she enters her teens. But another shadow falls on the family when James finds himself making improper advances to her. Appalled, he patches things up with his wife (two more daughters being the result), goes off to fight in WW I, and sends Kathleen to New York to study voice after he returns. All still isn't well, however, when she comes home pregnant six months later, then dies in childbirth when Mom slices her open to save her daughter's twins. One of them dies anyway, followed two days later by Mom, who commits suicide. James is left with three girls to raise, all of them scarred for life by the crisis: The newborn contracts polio when her aunt Frances, a child herself, tries to baptize her in a nearby creek; Frances is raped by James in his grief at losing Kathleen; the eldest, a witness to the rape, is also the one to find her mother's body. Such awful events, though quickly repressed, bode no good for the family, and ultimately tragedy overtakes them all.

A plate piled dangerously high with calamities, perhaps, but the time, place, and people—especially the children—all ring clear and true, making for an accomplished, considerably affecting saga.

From the Publisher
"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 can look at the unbearable, and sustain the emotion of it, and deliver it up edged in mordant wit."
—EDITOR'S CHOICE, Notable Books of 1996, The Globe and Mail

"... a multi-generational saga ... carried off with great assurance and style."
—Philip Marchand, CRITIC'S CHOICE, The Toronto Star

"... utterly compelling — a brilliant take on the black themes of racism, physical and emotional battery, sexual abuse, suicide, and murder."
The Vancouver Review

"Stunning...The book and the talent behind it are big. The story is riveting, the characters achingly human, and the writing will take your breath away...[MacDonald] has leapt into the first rank of fiction writers."
Toronto Star

"A delicious story, one of those sweeping family sagas to take on summer vacation and savor.... MacDonald is a master of exciting story-telling, of suspense and surprise. She has a dramatic touch that can elicit gasps from readers."
Montreal Gazette

"Not a single line is superfluous in this richly layered tale of the secrets within several generations of a Canadian family."
Publisher's Weekly starred review February 24th, 1997

"Here is an explosive mix of family feuds and incest, musical dreams and melodrama, all shot through with a fierce guilt... Fall On Your Knees is a heady, haunting brew, carefully structured, witty and distinctive."
The London Observer

"Some wonderful writing has come out of Canada in recent years from such authors as Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood. Now they are joined by the multi-talented Ann-Marie MacDonald... She is already a successful actress & playwright. It seems almost unfair that she should have written a brilliant first novel."
Sunday Telegraph

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606305020
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 508
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet 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 Theatre in Toronto. Currently, MacDonald is host of the CBC series Life and Times.

Her more recent work for theatre includes the play The Arab’s Mouth, the libretto for the chamber opera Nigredo Hotel, the collectively created The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls in which she also performed, and, most recently, the book and lyrics for the musical comedy Anything That Moves.

MacDonald’s work as an actor and writer has been honoured with a number of awards, including the Governor General’s Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Canadian Authors’ Association Award, the Dartmouth Award, the Gemini Award, the Chalmers Award and the Dora Mavor Moore Award.

Fall on Your Knees was MacDonald’s first novel and is available from Vintage Canada. She lives in Toronto with her partner, her daughter and two dogs.

Biography

Novelist and dramatist Ann-Marie MacDonald is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning novel Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies. She is also the playwright of Goodnight Desdemona, (Good Morning Juliet), which won the Governor General's Award for Drama. She lives in Toronto.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

In our interview, MacDonald shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself with us: :

"The only actual skill I possess is the ability to type. And yet, the only job I was ever fired from was office temp -- I lasted three hours. I waitressed years ago when I was starting out as an actor. I once spilled three Tequila Sunrises in a row on the same customer. Unaccountably, I was never fired from a waitressing job. I like to cook. My mother is Lebanese so my tastes lean toward the Mediterranean. I have beautiful partner, a baby, two dogs and a garden. After the "sturm und drang" of my early youth and art, I find domestic bliss to be the most conducive to articulating the inner storms that make for good fiction. I'm a homebody who travels a lot."

"I think good art, including good books, make the world bigger, one heart, one mind at a time. I craft stories that are meant to work on many levels, and not every reader needs to read on all those levels in order to be deeply rewarded. I respect the reader, and I empathize with their hope that, when they crack open the pages, they will be taken away. I try to reach a broad audience and invite readers to empathize across time, space, culture, race, gender -- the works."

"I believe people are capable of more empathy and insight than the nightly news would have us think. I believe we crave to see -- really see -- through one another's eyes, even when that might be frightening."

"My first love is comedy, and like most comedians, I derive my material from the dark. My job as a writer is to craft the invitation to the reader to undertake a journey, just as Virgil beckoned Dante into The Inferno and beyond. My pledge to the reader is the assurance that we will take this journey together. Hell, purgatory, heaven...a divine comedy indeed. As E. M. Forster said in Howard's End, ‘Only connect.'"

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 29, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baden Baden, West Germany
    1. Education:
      Graduate, National Theatre School of Canada Acting Program, 1980

Read an Excerpt

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, toward 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 doctor put it. Of course you can't see her face for the oven, but you can see where she had her stockings rolled down for housework and, although this is a black and white picture, her housedress actually is black since she was in mourning for Kathleen at the time, as well as Ambrose. You can't tell from this picture, but Mumma couldn't speak English very well. Mercedes found her like that, half in half out of the oven like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. What did she plan to cook that day? When Mumma died, all the eggs in the pantry went bad -- they must have because you could smell that sulphur smell all the way down Water Street.


So that's the house at 191 Water Street, New Waterford, Cape Breton Island, in the far eastern province of Nova Scotia, Canada. And that's Ma on the day she died, June 23, 1919.


Here's a picture of Daddy. He's not dead, he's asleep. You see that armchair he's in? That's the pale green wingback. His hair is braided. That's not an ethnic custom. They were only ethnic on Mumma's side. Those are braids that Lily put in his hair while he was asleep.


There are no pictures of Ambrose, there wasn't time for that. Here's a picture of his crib still warm.


Other Lily is in limbo. She lived a day, then died before she could be baptized, and went straight to limbo along with all the other unbaptized babies and the good heathens. They don't suffer, they just sort of hang there effortlessly and unaware. Jesus is known to have gone into limbo occasionally and taken a particularly good heathen out of it and up to heaven. So it is possible. Otherwise....That's why this picture of Other Lily is a white blank.


Don't worry. Ambrose was baptized.


Here's one of Mercedes. That opal rosary of hers was basically priceless. An opal rosary, can you imagine? She kept it pinned to the inside of her brassiere, over her heart, at all times when she wasn't using it. Partly for divine protection, partly out of the convenience of never being without the means to say a quick decade of the beads when the spirit moved her, which was often. Although, as Mercedes liked to point out, you can say the rosary with any objects at hand if you find yourself in need of a prayer but without your beads. For example, you can say it with pebbles or breadcrumbs. Frances wanted to know, could you say the rosary with cigarette butts? The answer was yes, if you're pure at heart. With mouse turds? With someone's freckles? The dots in a newspaper photograph of Harry Houdini? That's enough, Frances. In any case, this is a picture of Mercedes, holding her opal rosary, with one finger raised and pressed against her lips. She's saying, "Shshsh."


And this is Frances. But wait, she's not in it yet. This one is a moving picture. It was taken at night, behind the house. There's the creek, flowing black and shiny between its narrow banks. And there's the garden on the other side. Imagine you can hear the creek trickling. Like a girl telling a secret in a language so much like our own. A still night, a midnight clear. It's only fair to tell you that a neighbor once saw the dismembered image of his son in this creek, only to learn upon his arrival home for supper that his son had been crushed to death by a fall of stone in Number 12 Mine.

But tonight the surface of the creek is merely as Nature made it. And certainly it's odd but not at all supernatural to see the surface break, and a real live soaked and shivering girl rise up from the water and stare straight at us. Or at someone just behind us. Frances. What's she doing in the middle of the creek, in the middle of the night? And what's she hugging to her chest with her chicken-skinny arms? A dark wet bundle. Did it stir just now? What are you doing, Frances?

But even if she were to answer, we wouldn't know what she was saying, because, although this is a moving picture, it is also a silent one.

All the pictures of Kathleen were destroyed. All except one. And it's been put away.


Kathleen sang so beautifully that God wanted her to sing for Him in heaven with His choir of angels. So He took her.

Copyright © 1996 by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

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 doctor put it. Of course you can't see her face for the oven, but you can see where she had her stockings rolled down for housework and, although this is a black and white picture, herhouse-dress actually is black since she was in mourning for Kathleen at the time, as well as Ambrose. You can't tell from this picture, but Mumma couldn't speak English very well. Mercedes found her like that, half in half out of the oven like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. What did she plan to cook that day? When Mumma died, all the eggs in the pantry went bad - they must have because you could smell that sulphur smell all the way down Water Street.

So that's the house at 191 Water Street, New Waterford, Cape Breton Island, in the far eastern province of Nova Scotia, Canada. And that's Ma on the day she died, June 23, 1919.

Here's a picture of Daddy. He's not dead, he's asleep. You see that armchair he's in? That's the pale green wingback. His hair is braided. That's not an ethnic custom. They were only ethnic on Mumma's side. Those are braids that Lily put in his hair while he was asleep.

There are no pictures of Ambrose, there wasn't time for that. Here's a picture of his crib still warm.

Other Lily is in limbo. She lived a day, then died before she could be baptized, and went straight to limbo along with all the other unbaptized babies and the good heathens. They don't suffer, they just sort of hang there effortlessly and unaware. Jesus is known to have gone into limbo occasionally and taken a particularly good heathen out of it and up to heaven. So it is possible. Otherwise....That's why this picture of Other Lily is a white blank.

Don't worry. Ambrose was baptized.

Here's one of Mercedes. That opal rosary of hers was basically priceless. An opal rosary, can you imagine? She kept it pinned to the inside of her brassiere, over her heart, at all times when she wasn't using it. Partly for divine protection, partly out of the convenience of never being without the means to say a quick decade of the beads when the spirit moved her, which was often. Although, as Mercedes liked to point out, you can say the rosary with any objects at hand if you find yourself in need of a prayer but without your beads. For example, you can say it with pebbles or breadcrumbs. Frances wanted to know, could you say the rosary with cigarette butts? The answer was yes, if you're pure at heart. With mouse turds? With someone's freckles? The dots in a newspaper photograph of Harry Houdini? That's enough, Frances. In any case, this is a picture of Mercedes, holding her opal rosary, with one finger raised and pressed against her lips. She's saying, "Shshsh."

And this is Frances. But wait, she's not in it yet. This one is a moving picture. It was taken at night, behind the house. There's the creek, flowing black and shiny between its narrow banks. And there's the garden on the other side. Imagine you can hear the creek trickling. Like a girl telling a secret in a language so much like our own. A still night, a midnight clear. It's only fair to tell you that a neighbour once saw the dismembered image of his son in this creek, only to learn upon his arrival home for supper that his son had been crushed to death by a fall of stone in Number 12 Mine.

But tonight the surface of the creek is merely as Nature made it. And certainly it's odd but not at all supernatural to see the surface break, and a real live soaked and shivering girl rise up from the water and stare straight at us. Or at someone just behind us. Frances. What's she doing in the middle of the creek, in the middle of the night? And what's she hugging to her chest with her chicken-skinny arms? A dark wet bundle. Did it stir just now? What are you doing, Frances?

But even if she were to answer, we wouldn't know what she was saying, because, although this is a moving picture, it is also a silent one.

All the pictures of Kathleen were destroyed. All except one. And it's been put away.

Kathleen sang so beautifully that God wanted her to sing for Him in heaven with His choir of angels. So He took her.
Read More Show Less

Foreword

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 topicsinto 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?

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

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, Northrop Frye. I love authors and books but I get influenced by life.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

“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 ofFall 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.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 163 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(104)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(18)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 163 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2010

    Almost a masterpiece that ends up being pretentious rubbish!

    Incest, rape, racism, violence, forbidden homosexuality coupled with religious fanaticism and ridiculous allegory! The story is fascinating at first, and then dissolves into a tragically bleak portrait of the darker side of an unsympathetic group of people that have the misfortune to be related to one another. There is no doubt that the author is a compelling writer; the prose is often beautiful and brilliant but interactions between the characters are derivative and pretentious; those stories have been done more effectively before. Mostly, it seems as though MacDonald feverishly vomited every "bad" thought she ever had on to the page so that she could exorcise her own demons or come to terms with her own terrifyingly violent battles with horribly dysfunctional family relationships and religion. Granted, that can make for a powerful story, but in this case, it is simply a lurid, unoriginal mess that you are painfully embarrassed upon which to intrude. WARNING: it is likely that once you start the book, you will be unable to put it down. After a while you will keep reading because you have to know how it ends. Then you will shut the book, disappointed and furious that you invested so much time to read the whole silly thing. Despite the often lyrical prose, the book is simply not worth the time and emotional investment the author unsuccessfully attempts to evoke from the reader.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    Disappointing

    If you want a redemptive story featuring characters that are 'real' but not consumed by incest or rapists (i.e. a challenging, yet ultimately uplifting, inspiring story), skip Fall on Your Knees and instead pick up 'In the Fall' by Jeffrey Lent or 'Shade of the Maple' by Kirk Martin. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am by Oprah's pick - a dark, depressing, unwieldy story.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2008

    It is not often that I am so moved by a novel...

    This novel shook me to the very core of my being. The twists and turns, smatterings of cultural revelations, use of setting as a character in and of itself, and the musings on family (what makes a family and what isn't a family) all merged together to make for an extraordinary novel. The book is really lyrical and dark at the same time. I recommend this book to readers who are ready for heavy content that causes you to think very deeply about the human condition.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2009

    Beautifully written, but very disturbing

    I found this book to be extremely well written, but dark and very disturbing. It left a pit in my stomach and kept me thinking of the messed up characters well after putting it down. There were points in the novel where I simply HAD to stop reading because I was so disgusted by the storyline and wasn't sure I could finish it. Though Im a firm believer that all stories should be told, (not just light fluffy ones), I would be hard pressed to recommended this book to anyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 16, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Extremely twisted.. but kept my interest.

    I was amazed at how well this put was put together and written for it being her first book. I found it very interesting. I loved how it was written in many different perspectives. The book kept my mind at work with thinking of the possibilities and I was always wrong until of course the very end where everything unravels. I enjoyed this book very much and have loaned it to my cousin who can't put it down. I have just started reading her 2nd novel, The Way The Crows Fly, and I hope it doesn't disappoint me since she set the standard very high with Fall On Your Knees. : )

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2002

    Fall On Your Knees Falls Short...

    I laud Anne-Marie MacDonald for a beautifully woven, finely crafted novel. I could read her prose forever. But what I cannot get past is the fact that this is typical of an Oprah pick: 500 pages of dysfunction with the requisite rape, incest and misery void of redemption. It seems the modern benchmark for literary greatness is who can pack the most suffering into one long story. Truly great novels leave me wanting more and are marked not by the suffering of the characters, but the degree to which they rise above their circumstances. There are writers who combine well-written novels (which includes careful editing that respects readers' own intelligence) with fully-developed characters in stories that are moving, but ultimately hopeful and inspiring.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    Unlike anything

    Fall On Your Knees was unlike anything I've ever read as far as the storyline goes. Just when you think you know, you realize you don't. Some parts were slow going, especially in the beginning but if you stick with it, you won't be disappointed. This book takes you through just about every emotion. Some areas were a little confusing but everything comes brilliantly together in the end. If you enjoy stories about the complicated (and in this book, downright grotesque) relationships within a family, you will really enjoy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Like staring at a crash scene

    Utterly engrossing, engaging, horrifying, memorable, sympathetic .. hmm, maybe emotionally manipulative of the readers? Loved it, couldn't put it down - but felt guilty about that, like rubbernecking a car crash.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    Beautiful, painful, wonderful book

    After I finished this book, I went right back and started it from the beginning again. It was painful and poignant, but just wonderfully written. The characters come alive. It reminded me of She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, the same rich reading. It does deal with some rough stuff, so if you are not up for that beware. Otherwise, you must read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2002

    An Amazing Book

    Long after you're finished reading this book, the characters resonate in your mind. You think of them and their situations and discuss their foibles, human weaknesses and strengths with everybody else you know who's read the book. The plot, character, conflict and settings are meticulously developed and a joy to read. Excellent work for a first novel! All the students I've recommended this book to, who have used it for Independent Study, have loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Finally read this one!

    So I have heard of this book but just never got around to reading it. Take the time it is worth it! The writing style is different but keeps you alert. The story is compelling, mixing so many different human weaknesses and prejudices covering several generations.
    Another one of those cant put down books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Coal

    He ran throught the willow grove. He was still crying from what glimmer said. He then pad off to his den.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Sveta

    "Great catch!" she said in a cheerful voice.
    \•Sveta•/

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    Willow Grove

    A huge grove of willows always swathed in mist and cloudy skies, which makes it permanently dim.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 12, 2012

    I LOVE this book!!! I was originally drawn by the fact that it

    I LOVE this book!!! I was originally drawn by the fact that it was an International Bestseller, but then also by the fact that Oprah had chosen it as one of her book club recommendations. In addition, I love period pieces, so it struck a chord with me that this book would begin in the late 1800's and span a period of five generations. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and, honestly, I'm not a HUGE reader!! This book captivated me, tugged at my heart strings, and even made me cry. I would have preferred a slightly different ending (felt let down a just a tad), but am glad I read it and it's definitely one of my faves!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 3, 2012

    This book is absolutely amazing!

    This book is absolutely amazing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Read it twice!

    Great book and great author!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Amazing!

    This book is simply breathtaking! Every character described so richly and each scene colorful and emotional in its own way...I could not put this novel down. In essence, this book is beautiful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2011

    A great book but very dark.

    I'm a very sensitive reader and although this book is great, it's also dark and somewhat disturbing. I do most of my reading at bedtime and several times I've had to choose something lighter so that I can sleep. I will plow through and read it to the end but if I'd know what I was getting into I might not have started it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    I couldn't put this down!!

    This book was recommended by a dear friend. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down!!! Parts of it are a bit on the dark side but it is a riveting family saga with interesting twists and turns. The characters are memorable. Ann MacDonald writes beautifully!!! I won't recommend it to just anyone, but I know that those I do pass it on to will be enthralled.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 163 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)