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When the English Fall

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,743 ratings  ·  746 reviews
A riveting and unexpected novel that questions whether a peaceful and nonviolent community can survive when civilization falls apart.

When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath. Once-bright skies are now dark. Planes have plummeted to the ground. The systems o
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Algonquin Books
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David An excellent question. That opening came out of a very early editorial committee discussion back when the first version (which I'd self-pubbed) was ba…moreAn excellent question. That opening came out of a very early editorial committee discussion back when the first version (which I'd self-pubbed) was barely longer than a novella. Along with many great, great suggestions that made the book much tighter, I was told that the book should be "found literature in an abandoned farmhouse" and told to draft a prologue would give some context for the book. I wrote up several openings, and that one was the choice. There was another prologue I drafted that I liked better, to be honest, one that involved a key character from the book. As it stands, the memorandum still just feels outside the story. Who are these people? Why do I care? I'm askin' that myself, and I'm the author. It's not terrible, or badly crafted (so I'd like to tell myself) but it still just seems superfluous. (less)
David It's "Down in the Willow Garden," by the Everly Brothers, which Holly Hunter sang as a lullaby in the Cohen brothers classic Raising Arizona. It's suc…moreIt's "Down in the Willow Garden," by the Everly Brothers, which Holly Hunter sang as a lullaby in the Cohen brothers classic Raising Arizona. It's such a weird song, particularly as it's used in that film. Violent, tragic, and gentle enough to quiet a baby, all at the same time.

It was echoing through my head a whole bunch as I wrote, for some reason. Sometimes it's a hard world for little things.

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,743 ratings  ·  746 reviews

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Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Amish philes with low expectations
Recommended to Jaidee by: Description sounded super interesting
2.5 "lackluster, had a lot of potential, needs a lot more work" stars !!

This is the story of Jacob and his family in Amish Pennsylvania. A major disaster hits the Eastern US and possibly elsewhere and all electric power is wiped out. All the non-Amish are called English. Jacob's current diary covers three months and shares his observations of what has occurred and how he, his family and his community will contend with their faith, their isolationist practices and the growing desperation of the
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone. Absolutely. Unless you hate slow books.
I find myself struggling to start this review. Because the book was just so unbelievable, I find myself at a lack of words.

What would it be like to watch the end of the world as a bystander? As someone who has always thought that living that way was not wise, but had to hold onto that opinion as nobody really cared for it?

I should start with the fact that this is a dystopian book. However, it's not your typical dystopian book. You will not find zombies or adventure here. Nor will you
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopian
What a thought-provoking dystopian novel this was!

When the English Fall is about an Amish family in Pennsylvania. The story is narrated by Jacob, a respected father and farmer, who finds comfort in writing in his journal at night. His diary records how society breaks down after a massive solar storm disrupts America's electrical system. Nothing is moving or working, and soon the "English" — the Amish name for those are aren't Amish — are desperate for food and begin to invade Jacob's small commu
Kate Olson
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Contemplative and powerful, WHEN THE ENGLISH FALL is an unsettling story about the precarious nature of current American society set in the farmlands of Pennsylvania in seemingly current times. Never before have I learned so much about a culture while reading a postapocalypic novel - a novel that didn't read at all like any dystopian story I have encountered before. In fact, I have a hard time even classifying this as dystopian, and caution readers of entering the novel with that expectation. I ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This dystopian novel takes place in the eastern part of Pennsylvania near Lancaster among the Amish community. Jacob is an Amish farmer and lives the simple life of the Order. This book is written in diary form which among the Amish is considered prideful but Jacob feels the need to write and tell what is happening. A solar storm takes place and all electricity is lost. For the Amish, this is not a problem but for the English (non-Amish) community living nearby, the loss of electricity is devast ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I kept waiting for this to get good. I considered stopping around 75 pages in. Then, it got more interesting and I thought it would go somewhere. Then, it went somewhere, but not somewhere that was really interesting. The ending just made no sense. The issues with the daughter had potential, but then, it just didn't work. It felt like this was a book about an Amish man who has a magical daughter. I would have read that book. Then, it was a book about the Amish who survive a solar flare and how t ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
DNF at 31%. Too slow without much plot progression and I don' feel like continuing to read the diary entries of a person who can make the apocalypse sound even more uneventful than the process of paint drying. ...more
Sara Kennedy
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
David William’s debut novel When the English Fall offers a new perspective on apocalyptic fiction, written from the point of view of an Amish farmer named Jacob. Part insight into Amish culture, part dystopian novel, all written as journal entries, the novel follows the days leading up to a solar storm and its aftermath. Farmer Jacob lives a peaceful life with his wife Hannah and their two children, and occasionally does business with “the English” outside of his Amish community. His life is qui ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a refreshingly quiet, thoughtful novel. I loved the premise, and the writing is lovely. The diary format was a bit restrictive in the sense that we only get to know what the diarist knows in the midst of an apocalyptic disaster. On the other hand, it allowed the author to explore ideas about faith, violence, loss, and more.
Danielle Steenrod
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"They are English. They are the world. They are so busy, they have no time to see God or each other."
-David Williams, When the English Fall

This is a dystopian novel unlike any other, as it takes the point of view of an Amish man named Jacob. The story is told through Jacob's journal entries. This is not your typical survival dystopian story, it's more of seeing the world through the eyes of the Amish community. When the English Fall was such a unique take on a dystopian novel that I found myself
Sasha (bahareads)
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

Note: received and reviewed as a NetGalley

"Yes, we have the Order, and yes, we have our way, but the time when that meant we stood free from the world has passed."

The premise and cover of this book are marvelous. On the other hand, William's writing was dry and simple throughout the whole book. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be like that to reflect how simple the Amish live (since our narrator is Amish) but I just wasn't impressed.

The plot was pretty solid and I'm sad we we
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-recommended
 I was looking forward to this book with it's apocalyptic theme.  A solar storm / EMP causes a collapse of society as we know it.  Survivalists would be able to hunker down and survive a good long time but face it, most of us would starve or die from lack of necessary medication and sanitation issues if something like this happened.

This book tells a story of how the English (non-Amish folk) reacted and how they eventually prey on the Amish community.  Amish know how to grow food, store food and
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had to think about this one for a while but I'm changing my initial rating from 3 to 4 simply because I'm still thinking about it.

I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher.

I was on a cross country flight this week for a librarian conference and just desperately going through my ebooks looking for something to read after I finished the amazing Ender's Game. I tried one and was bored, I scrolled thru the list several times, I had zero memory attached to the cover of
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
We usually read post-apocalyptic books from the viewpoint of those who have lost everything. This book watches the breakdown of society from the viewpoint of one who can survive without the necessity of electricity or fuel.

"When the English Fall" is told in the form of a diary, kept by Jacob, an Amish farmer living with his family and others in Pennsylvania. A solar storm disables electricity and electronics and we watch from this man's eyes, modern society spiral out of control. Desperation vi
When the English Fall takes a familiar dystopian plotline, and dramatically shifts perspective to offer a wholly new experience in the genre.

Our point-of-view character is an Amish father and husband, Jacob, living in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and witnessing a solar storm that leads to an global-scale electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that shuts down all machines and the power grid. As an Amish community who lives without power, and electric machines, very little changes for the people on a dai
Paula DuPont
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really loved the premise. When I picked the book up from the Algonquin/Workman stall at the ALA Midwinter conference, I read the back and was instantly hooked. An electromagnetic storm? Okay. That disrupts civilization? Right on. From the perspective of an Amish man? Oh hell yes. And that's exactly what the book is.

Again, I loved the premise, but the story lacked the depth I'd hoped to see as this Amish community soldiered on while the outside world fell apart. I would have loved to have seen
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I honestly wasn't sure about this one. By the end of the first chapter I was hooked. I really enjoyed hearing from Jacob. He is such a good person. What a unique perspective, one I never considered I am shamed to say.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What would happen if something catastrophic knocked out the power grid and caused even vehicles and farm equipment to fail? An Amish farmer's daughter seemed to know the English would fall. Told through the farmer's diary, readers see life day by day as his daughter predicts the catastrophe, as the catastrophe unfolds, and as the crisis worsens. I am not a fan of science fiction or dystopian literature, but I loved this book! I listened to the audio book narrated by Eric Michael Summerer whose v ...more
Campbell Andrews
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Disquieting but gentle, When the English Fall made me ask what my responsibility was to my neighbor, my community, and myself.

It is a little preachy in places, and I don't believe it needs the short prologue attached to it. Tonally and thematically controlled, it is still expansive enough to allow for glimpses of delight and hope. Of late I have read more formidable works, but none which didn't wallow in despair.

David Williams' debut novel does the work of the very best fiction, and for years to
Paul Liadis
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just a beautiful novel. One of few where the story beats what I thought the synopsis to be.

And a protagonist in a "post Apocalypse" that chooses a way that is not violent.
It was a little slow but it was an interesting perspective on when it’s TEOTWAWKI.
Wendy Bunnell
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ok, I really liked this book except for two parts. The beginning, and the end. But that middle really rocked.

1. The beginning, I'm not sure what exactly adding that framework did for this book. It does indicate that humanity is still alive in the future, but I went back after I finished, and was still puzzled by this choice.

2. The end, as it was written, would have been more appropriate without that beginning "hook" I think. I would have been ok if I hadn't been looking for more of a link betwee
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is well written, insightful and engaging. My rating 4.75.

I was immediately drawn to this when I noted the genre and blurb. I have been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic stories and find some are more realistic than others. This one is could happen and is different because of the setting and characters.

This story is told in the form of diaries found on an Amish farm outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jacob, the father of the family, shares of the struggle his family has been experiencing. T
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a nearly perfect book, in my opinion, and it really delivers on its premise. Highly recommend for anyone that wants a unique and thoughtful eco-dystopian novel that is concise, moving, and scary.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
B.O.R.I.N.G. But it didn't have to be! It consisted only of journal entries from only one guy's perspective. I had high hopes for this one because the story sounded so interesting. ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
New perspective on a world gone topsy turvy, post apocalyptic.
The telling of Jacob captivates the reader, getting through it all, what takes place, and what road he will traverse upon, an empathy grows with the telling.
His writing in his journal has him have a voice to see the world through, come to realize his fate and faith, his spiritual struggle with the terrible world he finds himself in.
The authors lucid prose style delivers the tale into a memorable first person gripping narrative, a must
Sep 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Hoped that a post apocalyptic story set in an Amish community would be markedly different for the genre. It wasn't.

A very USian story.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anna by: Antonomasia, I think?
I found a copy of this rather obscure and beautifully presented novel on eBay. It provides an interesting twist on the well-established collapse-of-civilisation narrative: the narrator lives in an Amish settlement. The format is that of a diary kept by a man named Jacob to record how his family and community are faring. After initial signs of climate change, a solar storm destroys much of the technology on which civilisation depends overnight. The Amish, who use very little of this technology, d ...more
I really enjoyed this book despite it's simplicity.

A solar storm ends "modern" life as we know it. Planes fall from the sky, cars and machines stop working and modern devices are useless. Life is in chaos for 'The English', but for the Amish people, it is life as usual. They continue living their simple lives, but become more and more aware of the unrest in the rest of the country.

The story is told through the diary of Jacob, an Amish farmer, I can see how others can find this boring. His life
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did - it's set up as a post-apocalyptic narrative about the poor, quaint Amish getting attacked by people with guns because the Amish still have food, and the relative importance of faith in a world that is, literally, broken. The first page is one of those "hey, Dr. Researcher Person, I found these archival documents, take a look!" tropes that keeps cropping up. It's probably one of the most annoying examples, because no context for the named organ ...more
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Sounds like a sequel to.... (spoilers) 1 27 Jul 11, 2017 07:53PM  

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