Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall on Your Knees

So here's the thing about Fall on Your Knees. I first read it when I was 17 and doing an independent study of Canadian literature. Again, while moving it made my list of books I want to re-read even though I really should be reading the 30 odd books sitting beside my bed that I haven't read yet. So obviously, I re-read Fall on Your Knees. I wondered if I would still love it as much the second time around and the answer was yes. Yes I do. MacDonald's novel is intense and admittedly a little overwhelming in the telling of the lives of the Piper family in the early 20th century.  It begins with trouble when James elopes with 13 year old Materia - trouble both to her family's horror, and to himself as he realizes the reality of her youth, and Lebanese heritage.  James consoles himself with their firstborn Kathleen - beautiful and with the voice of an angel - a love that consumes him to the point on incest. To cope James enlists in WWI and fathers two more surviving children Mercedes and Frances. Kathleen goes to NYC to become a famous singer, but ends up returning ruined, pregnant and no longer singing.

This is a long novel, but the characters keep the readers going - you can't decide if each is sympatheticor not, and they hover between forgiveness and unforgivable in what they do and how they cope. There are bizarre turns, and reality isn't always clear but the mysticism is a significant part of what makes the story appealing. It's a story of survival in impossible circumstances. Oprah recommended or not, do yourself a favour and grab a copy - it's well worth a read.

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