Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fall of Light” as Want to Read:
The Fall of Light
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fall of Light

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Beginning in Ireland in the early years of the 19th century, the four Foley brothers flee across the country with their father and the large telescope he has stolen. Soon forced apart by the violence of the Irish wilderness, the potato famine, and the promise of America, the brothers find themselves scattered across the world. Their separate adventures unfold in passionate ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published October 31st 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published September 21st 2001)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 535)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This book got better as it progressed, and I finally became invested around page 49, then halfway thru I could not stop reading. At Page 300, with 3 pages to go and I could not believe this story, it is so special, the way the family is broken by distance, yet clings to one another, or the memory of one another, right to the very end. Beautiful metaphors through out, a lot of life reflection, talented author to convey so much with words. A beautiful story that can evoke great emotion, (yep, I cr ...more
Wow. What can I say. I'm still in love with Niall Williams's writing. I know I should have read this book slowly, but I just couldn't! The Fall of Light has such a different sound than the other two books I've read by the author. This story of the traveling Foley family during the Irish Potato Famine plays with themes of loss, discovery, love (as is familiar in Williams's writing) and of course all of the beauty that I've come to love in the description, imagery and poetry. I'd put Four Letters ...more
A lush, epic drama set in 19th century Ireland (roughly during the potato famine). It follows the trials and tribulations of 4 brothers and their father as they leave their Tipperary home and set out to find a better life. They become separated, have some terrible, some amazing experience. It's almost mythic in quality- melodramatic- but very sensual. He uses language so beautifully, but you have to be patient and savor the story without rushing. It's like eating really expensive dark chocolate- ...more
Belynda Smith
Sep 18, 2008 Belynda Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone visiting Ireland
Shelves: fiction
Williams's prose is lyrical, transports me utterly. His characters are vulnerable and your heart aches for them, plot is slow but engaging. What a beautiful read.
Feb 17, 2008 Annika rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Slightly older readers, fans of irish folklore, fans of poetic prose
Shelves: stunners, romance
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After reading 'History of the Rain' which I loved, I also wanted to love this. The writing is beautiful and sweeps you along with the story but sadly, by midway through, I got bored with the story and didn't much care what happened or had happened to any of the characters. That's always a cue to me to stop. A hard decision because Williams writes so well but it just wasn't for me in the end.
In a word, magical.
This was a disappointing book. I came to it quite eagerly after "History of the Rain" (I gave that 5 stars). "History" was wonderful because of the narrator... the unfolding of her ideas, discoveries, her surroundings. In "The Fall," the plot seems to drive the story of a father, his wife, and their sons. And one goes missing... and another goes missing... and one comes back, and another comes back in a dream... there's along session on gypsy life. Williams' other novel was so strong, so driven, ...more
I wish I could say I enjoyed this book, but I honestly couldn't get into it, and finished it mostly out of a sense of obligation to get to the end. It did have its good points, but they were overshadowed by what I saw as weaknesses, leading to a very mediocre read. Despite this, it had a good flow, and was a fast read if I sat down to read it.

Niall Williams has a very poetic narrative voice, and his descriptions are vivid and summon clear mental images. He paints a stark picture of Ireland aroun
This was an advance reading copy that I picked up at a book sale, so the story may have been changed somewhat before publication.

By turns lyrical and brutal, this is the story of a family first torn apart, then reunited in a fashion many years later. It tells of Francis and Emer Foley who begin life together rather impetuously and with grand dreams. But the reality of their lives wears them down, and disaster follows. Through stubbornness and misunderstanding the family is separated; the author
I found myself reading this book through a sense of obligation to finish it rather than any care for how it ended. Much of the writing was enjoyable but the story and characters didn't hold my interest enough to want to pick it up unless there was nothing else around.
Graham Botha
Niall Williams writes in a beautiful lyric style that, at times, catches in the throat of the reader. The story line is poignant and the characters rich and full. A great read. His story line has the epic saga quality of Ken Follett, but his poetic prose is far superior to that of Follett. The reader becomes absorbed by the fate of the Irish family, and Williams takes the reader all the way to the predictable/unpredictable ending so that the reader is left with a heavy sadness, yet, at the same ...more
Jude Thomas
Didn't like the style of writing. Found the sentence structure muddled, which irritated me. Kept turning the pages and waiting for something to happen, but was just more of the same depressing stuff.
A sprawling epic family story, this is an ambitious microcosm of the experiences of the rural Irish and their diaspora in the mid nineteenth century. Parts of the book deal unflinchingly with the horrors and iniquities of the potato famine, but Williams is too much of a romantic to allow this to dominate.

Much of the story is more folk tale than plausible narrative, and to some extent this feels like an exploration into the evolution and exaggerations of family stories. As in all of Williams' wo
Jan Prucnal
Part Irish Mythology, part " loose" family history , love story, tale of loss, the importance of family....Irish immigrants, like many other nationalities, had little idea
of what to expect in America; they had little choice, but to escape the potato famine and the widespread suffering it caused. The decision to leave
Ireland was one of survival. That said, the story brings dreams and fairies and fables....intermingled with hardship and determination
to create a new life. A spirit of adventure is p
Beautifully crafted words, but no sparkle.
Dull and by half way I had endured enough but slogged it out to the end.
Pity 'cos I wanted to love this book.
It took me a while to get into this one. I actually started it once and put it down for a year or better. Then, I picked it up again and finished it. I'm not sure what my problem was the first time, but I did really enjoy this book. It isn't as engaging as his other novels, but it's still written with the beautiful prose I've come to expect from Niall Williams. I have been a fan of his since I picked up a copy of Four Letters of Love off the bargain shelf of Barnes & Noble and will be a fan ...more
This felt a bit different from Williams other books I've read. But not necessarily in a bad way. The tone felt very ancient throughout, which suited the era he was evoking and isn't always that believably done by other authors. At times it felt other-worldly, mythical, or almost Biblical. The characters all felt slightly more than just simply men and woman. Perhaps I would like to have spent more time with different brothers - but that would have been a different book.
A quote on the sleeve says "Williams' language is rich to the point of bursting" - I'd say that it burst and overshadowed the story. Except there wasn't much of a story to overshadow. True, a lot of the description was poetic and described scenes beautifully and the poverty of the time harrowingly, but I think the line describing a scene in an inn went too far ' scratched at their trousers releasing the stench of stale urine into the air'. Nice.

Gerard Kelly
This was a departure for Williams into the genre of historical fiction, and at first it took some getting used to. But once again the book is carried by the sheer richness of the writing. Williams is a superb wordsmith, and even the thinness of the plot here does not detract from the beauty of his story-telling. Not the best book with which to make Williams' acquaintance if you haven't yet - but a great place to go once you're familiar with him...
I kept waiting for this story to go somewhere. Despite a lot of travel, it never did, and none of the characters or events was gripping enough to invest more than 75 pages of reading in. It's as if the mere concepts of Gypsies, monks, and rebellious fiery-tempered Irishmen are supposed to hold my interest, so that the author is free to turn as many pretty phrases as he likes, without ever telling me a story.
Lyrical, poetic, and like a fantastical fable...Niall's writing is incredibly beautiful. A page turner? No. Moving? Absolutely. The story he tells of an Irish family fighting for their survival during the famine in Ireland will touch the deepest part of you...often provoking an ache in your heart or a lump in your throat. (Unless you're in a coma.) The pain of Ireland is palpable on every page of this book.
This proved to be a mix of Irish storytelling, love of family and the dire situation of life for many during the mid 19th century in Ireland. The patriarch, Francis Foley, sets change in action through the theft of the landlord's telescope and fleeing with his 4 sons. Eventually, there is some reconciliation but there is a pervasive tone of melancholy, too.
I'm a huge fan of Niall Williams, but I had a hard time with this book. There were elements of the book I really enjoyed, but it moved slow at times and there were so many different characters it was hard to follow. It didn't live up to my expectations after reading Four Letters of Love and As It Is In Heaven.
Very Irish. Writing was lyrical. Hard times for all characters.
It took me a long time to get into this - not a book you can read a few pages then get back to. Once I accepted the heart wrenching sadness, the melancholy of the Irish kept me going. The writing is beautiful if you don't rush.
Aine Waldron
Loved everything about this book except the ending. It was beautifully written, very magical in many ways but the ending left too much hanging.
Beautiful book, very sad and moving. Set in the time of the Irish Famine. Read it a while ago but probably time to read it again.
Although this book is beautifully written, I really struggled to read it. There is almost no dialogue and it's extremely slow
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Long Silence of Mario Salviati
  • Praying Mantis
  • Day of the Bees
  • The Color Purple: Piano/Vocal Selections
  • Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe
  • Famine
  • The Tenants of Time  (The Thomas Flanagan Trilogy #2)
  • The NIV Gospel of John: With Devotional Notes
  • The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
  • Griet skryf  'n sprokie
  • St Patricks Gargoyle
  • The Law of Dreams
  • Beatlebone
  • The Herbalist
  • The Music Lesson
  • Better Days will Come
  • The Generation Game
  • Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes
Niall Williams studied English and French Literature at University College Dublin and graduated with a MA in Modern American Literature. He moved to New York in 1980 where he married Christine Breen. His first job in New York was opening boxes of books in Fox and Sutherland's Bookshop in Mount Kisco. He later worked as a copywriter for Avon Books in New York City before leaving America with Chris ...more
More about Niall Williams...

Share This Book