A Novel of Intense and Powerful Beauty

November 7 2014
Share A Novel of Intense and Powerful Beauty

I remember reading Fall on Your Knees in high school. It was recommended to me by a friend. She didn’t try to explain it, just pressed it into my hands and said, rather seriously, “You need to read this book. I think you would love it.” She was right on both accounts. It is a powerful story, and it has stayed with me.

Fall on Your Knees is an exploration of obsession and lust. It is a multigenerational story following the lives of the women of the Piper family, characters who are large, complex and drawn in cripplingly beautiful prose that lays bare their imperfections and heartbreak and will make you flinch as you read about how they suffer and overcome horrific experiences. The Pipers are a colorful collection of personalities, vastly different from each other but united by their strength and common tragedy.  As a generational story focused on a family of resilient women, the book is evocative of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, though with more of a horizontal familial bond and less political discourse. There is also no magical realism, but the turbid waters and grey skies of Cape Breton Island, where the central characters live, give an ominous, almost ethereal quality to the events of the story, later broken by the buzz and brilliance of Jazz Age New York City, where Kathleen, the most ambitious of the family, aspires to become an opera singer and discovers a kind of love that the early 20th century could not understand. Her story, the most vivid and heartbreaking, I think, is also the key to the sorrow and mystery in this chronologically convoluted, dark and challenging read.

Fall on Your Knees is a heavy book; few taboos remain unexplored, evil often goes unpunished, and injustice rears its head again and again. But for all its darkness, it is not without hope. The strength, sacrifice and perseverance of these women, coupled with the love they feel for one another, is inspiring.

Like my own introduction to this beautiful book, I think it is best to leave my recommendation to a brief, earnest appeal to the reader to crack the spine and let it wash over you. Fall on Your Knees is so terribly lovely and complicated and dark that my words won’t capture it, you just have to experience it.

Fall on Your Knees
Ann-Marie MacDonald

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. An Oprah Book Club Pick!

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo


Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

5 Reasons I Moved Fredrik Backman to the Top of My TBR Pile

By Holly Claytor | July 21, 2021

Small Towns, Big Secrets: 7 Gripping Novels Rife with Scandal

By Anna Bailey | July 20, 2021

10 Debut Novels Making a Splash This Summer

By Alice Martin | July 19, 2021


You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.