July's book on my Oprah challenge list is Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. It was a fairly easy read, with less pages than my previous books. Fall on Your Knees is a complicated, sweeping novel that will keep your interest. Will you like the book? Read it and find out!
Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. 2002. 512 pages. Touchstone.
Dark, dark, dark. If you love dark novels, you’ll go crazy over this one. The first line is a big hint – “They’re all dead now.” (That’s a great first line, by the way).
This novel was set in Nova Scotia, which attracted me to the book, since I know very little about this part of Canada. I was disappointed to find that the setting did not figure into the book – it could have just as easily been set in Texas. There were not many elaborate descriptions of wind-swept cliffs and eerie, creeping fog. MacDonald is no Charles Frazier, which is fine, but when a story is set in Nova Scotia you expect the locale to figure into the story at least a tiny bit.
The story is a sweeping account of a family, headed by James Piper. Piper is a complicated man with a number of imperfections and at least one extremely serious fault.
James, 18, marries twelve-year old Materia Mahmoud after a whirlwind romance. One of the enduring themes of the novel is the mixture of different people - different races and different cultures. The culture clash caused by this marriage results in Materia’s family disowning her. A combination of bad fortune and her husband’s abusive nature drives Materia into madness. It’s really difficult to review this book in depth from Materia’s madness forward, since anything else I say will give away some of the twists and turns of the story.
The book covers three generations of the Piper family and all of their troubles and afflictions.
The book explores incest, child abuse, race, religion, prostitution, and several more adult subjects. I can’t say the book wasn’t interesting and well-written, and if that is mainly what you are looking for, then the book is probably worth your time. For me, personally, it was too relentlessly depressing - the final quarter of the book was the only thing that moved it from a two-star book to a three.
Out of five stars, I give Fall On Your Knees ….
* * * (barely)