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Empire Falls

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  90,915 Ratings  ·  3,621 Reviews
Empire Falls, Maine: once a thriving hub of industry, this small town nestles in a bend of the vast and winding Knox River, and has always been the empire of the wealthy Whiting family. Now the last Mrs Whiting presides like a black widow spider over its declining fortunes. She harbours a grudge against her employee Miles Groby, who runs the Whiting-owned Empire Grill, but ...more
Paperback, 483 pages
Published May 9th 2002 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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Susan Mohawk, Nobody's Fool, Everybody's Fool in that order. Nobody's Fool
is the first of the two "Fool" books. Paul Newman played Sulley the main…more
Mohawk, Nobody's Fool, Everybody's Fool in that order. Nobody's Fool
is the first of the two "Fool" books. Paul Newman played Sulley the main character in a movie of the same movie. DON'T see the movie until you've read the book. It's a disappointment for a PN movie. Once you've read the book it's fun to see.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 23, 2017 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Matthew Quann
The small Maine town of Empire Falls has seen better days.  The local and once booming timber and textile industries have run their course and all that remains is the abandoned and decrepit real estate of what once was.  

The blue collar workers of this small New England community struggle to find the few jobs remaining that allow them to keep the wolf at the door and food on the table, ever hopeful of revitalized opportunities.

And it is here that we meet Miles Roby, manager of The Empire Grill.
Jan 03, 2016 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2016

coup de foudre = A sudden unexpected event, especially an emotional one; love at first sight.

The reviews that I find the most difficult to write are not the negative or even the glowing ones, but the ones about books that that may be not the best written or the best plotted but touch me on a personal level, the ones that strike close to my inner core. I haven’t read any other novel by Richard Russo, but starting on Empire Falls felt like going to a party where you don’t know anybody, starting
Empire Falls, Maine is a town that’s best days are long behind it. The mill and factory that used to be the main employers have been closed for years, and the only person around with two dimes to rub together is the very rich Francine Whiting who essentially owns and controls everything worth having in the area. Miles Robey was on the verge of earning his college degree and escaping Empire Falls forever when he returned home to care for his dying mother and ended up working for Mrs. Whiting as t ...more
Matthew Quann
Dec 19, 2016 Matthew Quann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: favourites, pulitzers
In this past year of reading I’ve found it easy to get through a book quickly, decide whether I enjoyed it or not, and move on to the next book in the infinite pile. Most books I’ll read in a week or so, and I approach my leisure time in a workman-like manner: it is relaxation time, but it also follows a pretty regular schedule. Rare are the books that cause me to slow down and delay finishing a novel simply to prolong the enjoyment provided by its reading. Empire Falls is that type of book. It ...more
Now and then, you find a book which manages to enthrall you so deeply that you simply know you will return to it over and over again, perhaps to embrace the writing style, perhaps to meet these characters again or perhaps to simply let yourself be immersed by the wonderful atmosphere of that specific book.

"Empire Falls" is such a book. I loved every single page of this book, and yet I know there are readers who would rip this book apart, saying things like "nothing ever happens" or "where is the
Dec 10, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-kindle, 2011, reviewed
I’ve really fallen in love with the characters in this one.

To me, the most difficult thing to do in literature is develop a character. Character-driven novels are a gamble because if they are not handled correctly, they can crash and burn before they’ve taken off. Plot-driven novels are a safer bet, but then you’d miss out on an opportunity to really provoke your reader. I liked Empire Falls primarily because of how real Miles and Max and Mrs. Whiting, etc. felt to me.

This book encompasses what
Dec 12, 2007 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody, but especially those with more than a passing acquaintance with small-town life
Shelves: fiction
This was a book my brother really enjoyed and recommended to me as recently as this summer. So it went on my list. :o)

My brother passed away on October 9, 2007. Today (well, since it's after midnight, technically, yesterday) is his birthday, so it seems fitting that I've finally gotten around to posting this review today.

When I finish a book, I find I kind of have to let things simmer in my brain a bit before I can really parse out all my reactions to it. I’m not sure why, but this one took me
Apr 24, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bittersweet story about everyday life in a small town, or so it seems. I have to admit that I was a little bored at the beginning of it (the prologue was a little dry, in my opinion), but once I got into the present-day scenario, Russo gradually brought the storyline to a powerful culmination and held my interest to the end.
Feb 02, 2008 Rick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
B the BookAddict

Winner of the 2002 Pultizer Prize, this novel has been reviewed many, many times in the last decade. One of those rare times when all the hype is actually true. To that end, I quote:

[Russo] is one of the best novelists around....As the pace quickens and the disparate threads of the narrative draw tighter, you find yourself torn between the desire to rush ahead and the impulse to slow down” The New York Times Book Review

Immensely satisfying...[Russo is] an unpretentious master of fictional tech
Mar 05, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the BEST book I've read in quite a while. I had actually seen the HBO miniseries based on this a few years back and enjoyed it but didn't think about reading the book until someone told me it's everything Twilight isn't: well-written, complicated, fully-developed characters, good story, strong dialogue, etc, etc.
That's not to say there's any reason to compare it to Twilight. It's not about vampires or in the same genre or league.
The Maine town of Empire Falls is probably like man
Cathrine ☯
I am somewhat conflicted in my response to this one. A lengthy pulitzer prize winner brimming with small town Americana and loved by many, I was often distracted while reading with the tedious detail and slow pace of this character-driven novel. It seemed way longer than 483 pages. But Russo is a great writer and there were passages of sheer brilliance, humor, and heartbreak depicting working class people in a dying town.

Empire Falls is controlled by a rich black widow who owns it all and ha
Mar 31, 2008 Rasmus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody.
I bought this book having only read on the back of it's cover and seeing that it had won the Pulitzer. I half-way expected to find it sligthly boring for that same reason, simpy because I tend to like books with a fair amount of action. And "Empire Falls" has very little action.

But man, this book is so well written, I had to stop and curse out loud several times, being a writer myself. Small, everyday situations become intensely interesting, as the web of relationships becomes apparent. It felt
Jul 19, 2014 Dem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 Stars
Empire Falls by Richard Russo is a story about relationships and life in a small town called Empire Falls in Maine.

The stroy is extremely well written and the characters are very well developed. I felt at times I was looking in the windows of the characters homes and watching them live life on a daily basis. The relationship between the characters was so well portrayed and a wonderful sense of time and place comes across in the novel. Having said that I still just found the Novel OK
Jr Bacdayan
May 15, 2014 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you cope with life when all your dreams stayed as they are, just dreams? How do you tell yourself “I have a happy life” when you know that what you yearned will never be? How do you start every morning with a smile? How do you keep afloat?

Empire Falls is the story of a small town who dreamed less than they should, and the few people who did and were the worse for it. It’s the story of unrealized dreams, an unrealized love, and an undone marriage. It’s the story of those who stayed, lookin
Oct 19, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Jennifer netherby
Shelves: 2009
This is one of those rare occasions when I wish GoodReads were to offer half-star ratings, because then I could give "Empire Falls" four and a half stars. It was almost a five-star novel in my estimation, but I had a few quibbles with it. It's nevertheless an excellent book, and one I don't feel much need to review at length; my friend Jennifer, who both recommended the book to me and lent me her copy, has already written a brilliant assessment. Her review is at ...more
A serious novel about small towns where everyone knows everyone else - and has for generations. I loved this book, as melancholy as it was. I loved the history of the characters and the town itself - although you really could not separate the two. Russo is one of my new favorite authors. He has such compassion for his characters.
Sep 19, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A sprawling, leisurely-told story with a large, well drawn cast of characters, Empire Falls caught and held my interest from the first page. Russo spends a great deal of time setting things up and introducing all the characters and subplots and I found myself truly caring about the characters and what happens to them as I read the book. The book takes place in the fictional Maine town of Empire Falls. Once a thriving manufacturing center, the town has fallen onto hard times due to globalization ...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 29, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great American novel, following the intertwined lives of the residents of Empire Falls, Maine. Empire Falls is a declining mill town, lorded over by the baronial Whiting clan. It covers several generations, focusing mostly on the present day and recalling the past. Like all small towns, this is one with secrets, good guys and bad, but all the characters are drawn richly, with respect. There is wisdom here, perception and blindness, short joys and long regrets. This is a book that sings ...more
May 28, 2013 Svetlozara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Това е книга за житейския избор и умението, или липсата на такова, да се справяме с последиците. Сцената е западащо американско градче, притежавано и манипулирано от една единствена фамилия, героите - любопитен калейдоскоп от архетипове. По стечение на обстоятелствата, които бавно излизат на повърхността, Майлс, от младеж с бъдеще, се е превърнал в мекушав човечец на средна възраст с жена, която скоро ще му стане бивша и дъщеря тийнейджър, която ще тръгне по неговия път надолу, ако той не намери ...more
After a bit more than four chapters:

I continue to have a hard time with this. I find it extremely depressing. There is humor, but it is not the kind I like. It is sarcastic, mean humor where you are supposed to laugh at the stupidity or crude behavior of people. I protest; I like to laugh with people in happiness, not at people for our weaknesses. There is a priest that is demented and he wants to hear confessionals so he can hear what is going on and then he tells others. Now I don't think tha
Aug 21, 2008 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If future archaeologists have nothing but novels written over the past 20 years or so to judge our society by, they will come to the following conclusions:
1. Nearly everyone used foul language (although perhaps the future archaeologists won't know that it was foul language).
2. Nearly everyone thought about sex most of the time.
3. Almost all adults were either divorced, in the process of getting a divorce, or remarried after having been divorced.
4. Young people spent a portion of their lives in a
The book begins with a brilliant and unforgettable image but becomes increasingly less memorable as the book continues. Russo's style is pleasantly lulling and subtle--appropriate especially here for the description of the slow demise of a midland maine town. But the book goes on too long, and the ending is completely unsatisfying.
Apr 09, 2015 Antigone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Empire Falls, offers the best of what is largely considered passé in the American novel. Rich characterization, hard-won insight and slow-seething drama vie for prominence in the story of Miles Roby - father, son, brother, ex-husband and manager of the Empire Grill, struggling to make a go of it in a small Maine township last-gasping its way to ruin.

The style is conversational; the first hundred pages a gossipy chat that serves to introduce our major
Ian Pardo
Mar 27, 2011 Ian Pardo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I put down EMPIRE FALLS after its last page, it suddenly dawned on me: "I have to read another book now, don't I." From the first page, I fell in love with the wonderful but flawed characters of Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winner, and leaving the town of Empire Falls, Maine hit me with the force of parting with a dear friend.
Dec 28, 2007 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
What I found to be really remarkable about this book is its ending, not because it's so action-packed (especially in comparison to the rest of the book) but because the reader's sense of foreboding builds so subtly throughout the book until one can figure out which character it will be to cause the inevitable catastrophe.

Actually, this entire book could be a study in subtlety, because the nuances in each character are so lightly illustrated as to catch the unsuspecting reader off-guard. This is
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Empire Falls is a beautifully crafted, inventive and substantive character-driven novel. Having lived in college for four years in a milltown in Central Maine, in places, the novel seemed almost more realistic than the actuality of dwelling in the fabric of the milltown. That's possible only because Richard Russo has a talent for making both his vividly sketched blue-collar and blue-blooded characters really come alive. The credible story line is unafraid to assume some creative risks and the re ...more
Jun 06, 2008 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A small town in Maine. I could almost describe it from memory of my early years as a seasonal visitor there. The characters are so real, and we have a "silver fox" in our community, too. Teachers have to love the description of the art teacher's scene. The novel is wry and poignant, one of the best.
Jun 27, 2008 Johnny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light-novels
"Diverting one's attention from the past was not the same as envisioning and embarking upon a future." (p. 19) While this seems to be the theme of Empire Falls by Richard Russo, my biggest problem with this novel is that there doesn't seem to be any move toward the future in this novel. Everyone in the book seems to be so entangled in the misdeeds of their parents and grandparents, as well as their own, that they can't cut free and live that future.

Even when the hopes and dreams of the parents a
Oct 31, 2008 Brad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Keep in mind that it's been a while since I read this, but...

This book read like Die Hard: The Morality Play.

Not one character had a believable motivation, so when a vignette had run its course, Russo had nothing left to do but to jump ahead in time a little bit and let the next vignette recount the dramatic change that occurred in the gap between.

Kinda like John McClaine looking past his bare feet at a hall filled with shattered glass... cut to the next scene and he's pulling glass out of his f
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RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody’s Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.
More about Richard Russo...

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“And there comes a time in your life when you realize that if you don't take the opportunity to be happy, you may never get another chance again.” 149 likes
“What if all everybody needed in the world was to be sure of one friend? What if you were the one, and you refused to say those simple words?” 93 likes
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