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The Falls: A Novel
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The Falls: A Novel

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  6,352 ratings  ·  650 reviews
It is 1950 and, after a disastrous honeymoon night, Ariah Erskine's young husband throws himself into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. Ariah, "the Widow Bride of the Falls," begins a relentless seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side is confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby, who is unexpectedly drawn to her. What...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
The terrible, wonderful appeal of a raging waterfall: you can cross above it, brave acrobat... you can lose yourself in it, angst and sadness begone, your body falling into something greater than the cares that weigh you down... you can wait beside it, a spectral vision of mourning and tragedy, a local icon for tourists to gape at, waiting for that body, waiting for the falls to rebirth its lonely suicide as it always eventually will... you can live next to it, next to its tamer parts, the water...more
Nov 23, 2007 Heather rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
I read The Falls for book club. I was looking forward to reading it, given its roots in historical events and my past reading of her novel, We Were the Mulvaneys. The Falls was, hands down, the worst novel I have read for years. If I could, I would give it 1/4 of a star. The first few hundred pages are horrid: adjective after adjective describing nothing. The characters are boring, generally unbelievable, and have no depth. To her credit, Joyce Carol Oates offers the reader moments of promise: d...more
Widowed on her wedding night when her new husband, a young minister and latent homosexual, throws himself into the falls, Ariah Littrell, the plain, awkward daughter of a minister, henceforth considers herself damned. Her bleak future becomes miraculously bright when Dirk Burnaby, a handsome, wealthy bon vivant with an altruistic heart, falls in love with the media-dubbed Widow-Bride. Their rapturous happiness is shadowed only by Ariah's illogical conviction over the years that Dirk will...more
My Inner Shelf
Je voulais découvrir cet auteur depuis longtemps et mon seul regret c’est de ne pas l’avoir fait plus tôt !
Les Chutes est un roman poignant et d’une richesse psychologique folle. Ariah Littrell se réveille le matin de sa lune de miel, après sa nuit de noces et une gueule de bois. Étrange combinaison. Elle se réveille l’esprit embrouillé et l’âme meurtrie, mais prête à tenir son rôle de jeune mariée. Hélas, son mari vient de se jeter dans les chutes du Niagara, pour des raisons qu’elle ne connaît...more
Jennifer Odza
This book was given to me as a gift, otherwise I would have never had it in my home, especially after reading "We Were the Mulvaneys" which I found to be an equally horrible read. I felt a little compelled to read this because it is set in the Niagra area, where I have visited many times.

There are two main problems with this book, and they permeate the book unfortunately. The first is that Oates' characters are not in any way genuine. Their reactions, motivations, what they say and do all ring f...more
This book follows the life of a woman haunted by the rejection of her first spouse and her eternal fear that she will be rejected by anyone who is drawn into her circle of life. Ariah lives her life almost as a fugitive, constantly looking over her shoulder, reading into things said as proof that she is unworthy of affection. She becomes brittle and nearly unapproachable. By protecting herself, she seems to live life in the shadows, barely participating, but an influence nonetheless.
تداهمك الفكرة التالية في أول عشرين صفحة فقط من الرواية:
عروس الشلالات (آريا)؛ التي جاءت يوم زفافها لتمضية شهر العسل في فندق بمدينة شلالات نياجرا، مدينة شهر العسل الأولى في العالم، لكنها استيقظت صباحًا لتجد زوجها مختفيًا، وبعد البحث وجدته انتحر بإلقاء نفسه من أعلى الجسر المطوِّق للشلالات!

ما الذي يجعل عريسًا ينتحر بعد يوم زواج واحد!؟

رغم البداية المشوقة، لم تستمر الرواية على نفس الوتيرة. هي -كما ستقرأ على غلافها الخلفي- "رواية أجيال"، وبها جزء تاريخي كبير عن أزمة التلوث الكيميائي التي تتعرض لها مد...more
Sep 30, 2009 Henrik rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Oates fans, those liking realisitc stories, tragic stories
Recommended to Henrik by: Christina Stind Rosendahl
Shelves: thriller, realism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joyce Carol Oates has become quite a name in the fiction world. I thought it was high time that I read one of her works. Unfortunately, my first foray was The Falls. Neither the characters, plot, nor writing left me particularly enthralled. Nevertheless it was a readable novel, something to occupy my time. The main character is Ariah who becomes a widow on her honeymoon when her husband commits suicide by jumping in to Niagara Falls. Through this misfortune another man becomes obsessed with her....more
The Falls was my first ever Joyce Carol Oates novel. I've read a few of her stories over the years, though none of them particularly stand out in my mind. I have vague but admiring memories of what is probably her most famous short story, frequently anthologized, called "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" I know she's considered something of an icon in the fiction world, so I took that into this experience, expecting what's generally called "literary fiction," and expecting it to be well...more
This was my second Joyce Carol Oates after reading We Were the Mulvaneys. I didn't enjoy this one as much, but it's still well worth reading. I lived in the Buffalo Niagara area for 12 years, so I enjoyed all of the local color in this novel. In addition, a good deal of this story concerns the very early developments in the Love Canal case. I took a sociology class in college from a professor who wrote a book about the homeowner's group that formed in the wake of the lawsuits from a sociological...more
A tale whose theme is resurgent in this age where industrial pollution and climate change are high on everyone’s mind. Niagara Falls in the ‘60’s may have been the Love Capital of America but it was also the home of Love Canal, the most polluted industrial site that erupted and exposed the evil underbelly of crony capitalism.

And yet this novel begins (and ends) as a love story: a young headstrong woman, Ariah Erskine, and her pastor husband who is hiding the secret of his sexuality go to the Fal...more
The beginning of this book mesmerized me much as the very Falls described here by Oates. For 120 pages, the book was just shy of glued to my hand, and I could not put it down.

Then, for the next 200 pages, I could barely pick it back up, to continue. By the mid-300s, I was hoping there would be a chemical explosion at one of the factories and all of the characters would die, putting me out of my misery.

I had never before read Joyce Carol Oates, so I don't know if this inconsistency is typical, o...more
The woman in black intrigues me. When I read The Falls, I thought she was Nina Olshaker, recognizing Dirk in Royall, making love to Royall as she had not been able to do with his father. On the other hand, the scene in the cemetery is eerie and unreal enough to make a case for her being a phantom. Her diction reminded me of Claudine, but Claudine would have been much older and never would have worn those clothes, and her hair was blond, not black, and she was always impeccably coiffed and never...more
Kathleen Valentine
I thought this was an absolutely astonishing story. The writing is deep, and, though there were many times when I thought it seemed to go on a bit, I found myself still caught up in the rhythm of her astonishing prose. The central character, Ariah, is not a very likable character. On the first night of her honeymoon in Niagara Falls in the early 1950s, her new husband leaves their bed, walks to the Falls and throws himself over. Ariah finds the suicide note h left but destroys it without telling...more
Joyce Carol Oates expertly takes cultural icons and important events and builds novels around them that seem vividly real--as they could very well be.

The Falls is actually several stories all wrapped into one novel. First, we meet Ariah Erksine, a newlywed whose husband commits suicide the morning after their wedding night by getting up early, racing to the falls, and plunging in. This is the strange event that gets the novel going. JCO is very good at this; many of her novels begin with events...more
This book met my standard for keeping me engrossed on the subway. Oates is certainly an engaging writer, with a flair for Gothic excess (sex in a graveyard, forsooth). When I saw the story was to be multi-generational, I hoped for a more robust pattern, perhaps along the lines of Wuthering Heights, where the second generation, though repeating some of the happenings of the first generation, has a better outcome. But aside from the said graveyard sex, where the son has a bizarre sexual encounter...more
My first JCO book and possibly my last. Some great ideas and stunning imagery, but The Falls got on my nerves pretty fast. Oates' pen tends to linger for pages (and pages and pages)on events that other writers would condense into one or two sentences. In particular, the play-by-play on hotel staff handling a woman whose husband just threw himself into Niagara Falls was excruciating. That Oates intermittently punctuates her descriptions by italicizing the mostly cliched inner thoughts of her char...more
What can I say about Joyce Carol Oates? Her ability to tackle just about any genre continues to amaze me with each new book. Take, for example, the Falls, which begins as a sort of modern Greek Tragedy, before seamlessly transitioning into a ravishing romance, and then (later) a legal thriller that reads like a combination of Silent Spring and A Civil Action. While the themes in The Falls aren't as potent as those found in Foxfire, they're still well worth the four-hundred-plus pages Oates takes...more
Meghan Gerrity
I picked up this book at a used book store. The back cover was intriguing and kept me hooked! This is a tragic story set in the 1950's in Niagra Falls, NY. I love Oates' descriptive writing. It really makes me feel that I am with the characters and following them through all their ups and downs. The story starts when a new bride loses her husband over the falls and follows the bride from that point on. I would recommend this book for anyone looking to get lost in a period piece with lots of twis...more
I was disappointed in this Oates novel. Too much description going nowhere a lot of the time ~ the first few chapters the worst. Not like her other work. The most interesting element of the book was about the Love Canal case.
Katherine Porter
The story of one family living in Niagara Falls, it was ultimately a compelling read. At one time, I almost put it down, and moved on - but was glad I did not. I was alternately sympathetic to and disgusted with the main character, Ariah Erskine Burnaby, whose first husband commits suicide on the morning after their wedding night. Ariah meets and quickly marries handsome, charismatic Dirk Burnaby, who in many ways is a much more appealing character. Ultimately Dirk's story is more compelling and...more
Hadn't read Oates in ages but really liked this one. I must say I enjoyed it far more than I expected, though I thought the Epilogue, especially so long a one, undermined the story in many ways. What I liked about the book was the way the author doled out the information, from different points of view without investing herself (as author) in any of the individuals. I find I don't like or dislike any of the main players but I have significant insight into each of them.

I also note that most of the...more
This is a novel that contains several stories that all may have resulted in a book on its own. The result is a big, sprawling novel.

The story begins around 1950 and ends in the late 1970s.

First, it's the story of the very short marriage between Ariah and Gilbert. They go for their honeymoon at Niagara Falls, but after the first honeymoon night, Gilbert throws himself into the falls. Ariah keeps waiting and searching along with police and other rescue personell and is dubbed The Widow Bride of...more
Le cascate è una potente saga familiare ambientata nell'evocativa zona delle cascate del Niagara. L'autrice ci descrive questa nota meta turistica non solo come il luogo ideale per una luna di miele, ma anche come il paradiso dei suicidi. Addirittura si allude a una certa morbosa attrazione che le cascate esercitano su chi si avvicina troppo, spingendo all'atto estremo. Il romanzo inizia negli anni Cinquanta con l'arrivo a Niagara Falls di una coppia. Ariah e Gilbert si sono sposati tardi nella...more
While I don't think anyone can tear down Oates' abilities as a writer, being both talented and prolific, I have to say I'm done with her books, based solely on plot. Her characters are developed but rarely feel real to me, like I could meet them on the street, and I don't feel like I learn much about the world from reading, except that it's complicated, messy, unfair, and sad. I don't need a book to tell me any of that. This is at least the fourth of Oates' books that I have read, and I picked i...more
first read Oates in a Modern American Lit class in college, and have read several of her novels and short stories since then with varying degrees of enjoyment. This one is an interesting study of a family that seems trapped in an uncontrollable downward spiral. It involves two suicides committed at Niagara Falls, one near suicide, and the exposure of the Love Canal contamination near the Falls. In brief, a woman marries a preacher, who commits suicide the day after their wedding. She then marri...more
I've read some complaints about this book as being "over-written" and "boring" with "hard-to-like characters" - and while I can see where these folks are coming from - this is part of what I like about JCO. That she creates a complete & believable world with flawed characters, (who sometimes think in cliche, even - another complaint I read). I enjoy all the details, how JCO creates an image I can actually see. Contrary to what someone in another review complained about, I think it was import...more
The Falls (P.S.) by Joyce Carol Oates

I had this book on my shelves for quite a while and when situations changed in my life - deciding to cancel directv - I picked up a book to get away from the computer. I thought it might have been a Victorian novel - it wasn't, since it took place starting in 1950.

This may have been the first full-length book I read by Joyce Carol Oates. It hooked me from the opening page. The action, the dialogue, the characters are created to interact with the feelings, issues and action of the time, making...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Zombie

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“Sometimes people surprise us. People we believe we know.” 17 likes
“لا يمكنني التورط مع رجل لا يهمه أمري وأمر طفلتي وحياتنا معًا، أكثر من اهتمامه بغريب ... لا يمكنني التورط مع رجل لا يهمه إن عاش أو مات! يرمي بحياته مثل الزهر وكأن لا قيمة لها” 6 likes
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