The Piper family is steeped in secrets, lies, and unspoken truths. At the eye of the storm is one secret that threatens to shake their lives -- even destroy them.
Set on stormy Cape Breton Island off Nova Scotia, Fall on Your Knees is an internationally acclaimed multigenerational saga that chronicles the lives of four unforgettable sisters. Theirs is a world filled with driving ambition, inescapable family bonds, and forbidden love.
Compellingly written, by turns menacingly dark and hilariously funny, this is an epic tale of five generations of sin, guilt, and redemption.
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. 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.
If I had been asked to rate this book 50% of the way through, I'd have been hard pressed to give it a two. It is a massive story of a variety of characters, almost none I felt I could like: either I felt revulsion towards them or I felt a sadness for the near barren lives they led. The inhabitants of MacDonald's world are the epitome of all that can be wrong with people and every vice and misfortune which can thought seems to be owned by or befall the characters. They all were well intentioned even when those intentions were twisted by the events the characters bore with a strange stoicism that bordered on making them all unsympathetic.
But then I finished it, and may read it again - not something I do often.
There is a redemptive character but it is more than that - somehow there came a moment of honesty for each character and those moments redeemed them, making them sympathetic and human in a whole different way. The story reveals slowly - sometimes maddeningly - but the pieces all fall into place and in the end a found myself at a place of understanding the Pipers and the isolation, echoed by the landscape, they each faced. Most of the characters never become likable - but they are real.
_Fall On Your Knees_ is a big story that digs deep into one family over generations - it is a painful story and I think it takes a certain amount of faith to stick with it. There isn't anything easy about MacDonald's novel: the narration slides from moment to moment at times leaving me sometimes unsure where I was or with whom, her prose can move from lyrical to blunt, and there is little to love of the place and characters for much of the novel. But ultimately it works. I can't say it was a happy ending, but it fit and was maybe even hopeful.
I've read this twice now. It's a deeply sad story, and so powerful. I love many of the characters and the beautiful metaphors the author uses in her writing. One of my all time favorite books. It will make you cry...and feel disgust....love...admiration...many many feelings.
This book is very slow in the early stages. As you read on, it has your interest. You want to know what is going on in the family. 3/4 of the book is when you want to know what exactly is going on with this family. I thought it was very sad with what goes on in that family, and race was such a big factor. It makes you think. I walk away shaking my head..... Oh dear.