A dazzling novel which takes us on a mythic journey through five generations of one family's secrets, miracles, conflicts, births, deaths and extraordinary loves.
Ann-Marie MacDonald is a writer and actress. Fall on Your Knees won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. Her play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) won Canada's Governor General's Award and has had more than fifty productions world-wide. Other works for the theatre include The Arab's Mouth and the libretto for the internationally acclaimed chamber opera, Nigredo Hotel. She has acted in many plays, television dramas and feature films, including Where the Spirit Lives and I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. She lives in Toronto
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.
"MacDonald skillfully shifts the story backward and forward in time, giving it a mythic quality that allows dark, half-buried secrets to be gracefully and chillingly revealed" * New York Times *
"A whopper of a first novel... No fragmentation or contrived narrative devices confuse this hefty and engrossing tale" * Guardian *
"Stunning....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 *