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In the Fall

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,009 ratings  ·  286 reviews
A rich and masterful novel about love and the question of race in post-Civil War America; Spanning the post-Civil War era to the edge of the Great Depression in the Fall is an extraordinary epic of three generations of an American family, the dark secrets that blister at its core, and the transcendent bonds between men and women that fuel their lives over the course of six ...more
Paperback, 565 pages
Published 2001 by Picador (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,009 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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Diane Barnes
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story, beautifully told.

Five words that could stand alone as a review of this book, but it's not enough to convey just how wonderful, how beautiful it really is. Leave aside the fact that it is the story of three generations of a family with some serious baggage. Forget the prose that lifts off the page and sings in your brain. The rising and falling action, the descriptions of the natural world, the intrusion of history, attention to detail that never once falls short; all these thi
Kim Marshall
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love to be touched in places in their souls that they forgot existed.
Having borrowed this book from my daughter who had gotten it in a second hand book store and not read and having never myself herd of the author I had no preconceived notion of what these pages had in store for me. However, once I got going I could not put this book down. I say “once I got going” because to be honest I found Lent’s style a bit hard to get use to. And his style is also a bit hard to describe. It is not that he is very descriptive or that the subject matter is historical fiction o ...more
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-2009, read-2009
This was almost a 5 star book for me. I loved the language, the writing the characters. I was transfixed by the first characters introduced and the family saga that developed from the battle fields of the civil war to the bootlegging in the New England states.
There were moments in the writing that you stopped and reread the words and wanted to share their beauty with someone but knowing that only you in that moment could experience the full meaning... just beautiful.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What beautiful writing, truly breathtaking. the story was compelling,at times heart wrenching. loved norman and leah,prudence and abigail,and Foster!! So many beautiful lines and passages ....just one "He was not simple in love but ferocious with it." Thank you Jeffery Lent,want to read more of your stories.
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Writing was good, characters were very believable, but the thing that really irked me about this book was the constant something-big-is-around-the-corner baiting. And in the end, hundreds of pages later, it wasn't that big, or that surprising.
Ron Charles
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's something suspicious about the power of Jeffrey Lent's "In the Fall." Is this really the work of a first-time novelist, or is it some late discovery of a book by William Faulkner?

"In the Fall" moves through three generations of the Pelham family with stunning success. The novel starts in gloaming silence, deep in the Vermont woods, and builds like a thunderstorm coming over the horizon. By the end, 60 years and more than 500 pages later, the lightning scalps your soul.

When young Norman d
Jun 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Good read.....not. I very rarely (I don't think ever) give one star for a book. I love to read and can usually find something to like about almost any book I read. This was my exception. If you like slogging through heavy prose and 70 word sentences then this is definitely the book for you. I, however, had a hard time finishing it. I did finish though, because part of me kept wanting so badly for it to get better. This time period is one of my favorites and I was really looking foward to explori ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
My only regret with this book is that it took me two and half months to read. I had a lot going on and this book is detailed, dense and heavy. But all in a good and positive way. The author does not let up with the heavy subject matter. Good grief, the last 10 pages are brutally heavy on the heart. I might be wounded by knowing the details and the answers. Quote from last pages might explain some of my grief, “oh boy,” he said turning from her, “am I ever f#%ked up.” Thanks to Diane B for the re ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it
This was Jeffrey Lent's 1st novel and most of the action takes place in new England. It is the story of a family's (interracial) life from the end of the Civil War through prohibition. This was the first novel I have read where the issue of "passing" in a white world was a primary theme. The effect of this on a family is devastating and isolating at times. It becomes a "secret". Basically, Norman, the main character walks home to Vermont after the Civil War with the woman who he loves who also h ...more
Julie Daniels
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oh how I love this book! I simply can't wait to get back to it each day. It will not appeal to everyone but I love the story, the characters and the writing is incredible to me. Will follow up this review when finished. This author also wrote Lost Nation one of my favorites.
August 3, 2013
I am 3/4 through this book and I don't want it to end. This authors sentences are so exceptional, descriptions are so vivid, I can visualize these people and care about them!
August 5 2013.
Sad to report I am fi
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Honestly I had a difficult time with the writing style of this book from the start in that it seems to try to use the broken English dialect of the Civil War era Americanease. The book jumps about from time to time in an odd fashion which makes you feel disoriented with what's happening. I put it down after a few chapters, growing tired of hearing about life on the farm and the difficulties the family has with farm life and integrating a black woman into the family farm. Sorry Mr Lent, I tried.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Jeffrey Lent. If I have a single criticism, it's that this one could have used a little editing; it's really, really long, and heavy on description. Then again, description is one of Lent's strong points, and this is a sprawling family saga that runs through three generations. Besides, despite it's length, this is a real page-turner overall.

The novel opens with Norman Pelham, a twice-wounded veteran of the Civil War, making his way back home to Vermont after being released
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
CML - Hilliard Branch Book Group selection (October 2001)

A work of literary writing genius. An incredible story that stretches across generations written in a language of melodic prose.

Book description from "In the twilight of the Civil War, Leah, an escaped slave, discovers Norman Pelham, a wounded soldier who lies dying in a battlefield outside Richmond. After she nurses him back to health, Norman brings her to his family farm in Vermont as his wife, and they begin a family. Now th
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel is at times luminous, but frankly more often dark and brooding. Ir follows three generations of a troubled family, beginning with young Civil War soldier Norman Pelham, who brings home to Vermont and marries Leah, the runaway slave who found him severely wounded and saved his life. The theme of racial tension plays a huge part in the story. Also looming large are themes of loss, recovery and redemption, as Jamie, the youngest offspring of this couple rejects his farm upbringing ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
I tried. I really did. But this is one strange phenomenon. Did over a thousand readers really fail to notice that this is one obnoxious run on sentence? Where was the editor? My brain hurts now. I'm afraid it might be contagious. I didn't learn to break sentences apart into meaningful, clear an concise ideas easily. I was a fan of the run- on, I truly was, until at least seventh grade.

I threw it out, a hard cover! into the recycling bin, fearful someone young and impressionable would pick up th
Harold Titus
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In many respects Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall is a remarkable historical novel. Lent is a skilled narrator, he is knowledgeable about his subject matter, his observations about human conduct are incisive, and his characters are intriguingly exceptionally complex.

Lent’s story spans three generations. It is essentially three novels all of which relate to a violent event that occurs in Sweetboro, North Carolina, at the end of the Civil War. Without giving away important details in the story, I offer
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksiveread
I don't know what to say about this one. I could not take my nose out of it, wanting to get to the mystery at the end. A multi-generational saga set between the War of Southern Aggression and Prohibition.

A couple of quotes to give you and idea:

"The problem, Jamie had long felt, was not the people weren't capable of telling the truth; it was that they weren't able to understand what they were hearing. The truth was no a line from here to there, and not ever-widening circles like the rings on a sa
Aug 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Lush and lovely, In The Fall is an immersive, and deeply flawed take on Big American Themes of family, race, and identity. Lent's prose is long-winded and beautiful but will be pure agony for readers in search of brevity. The guy does his own thing syntax-wise, mixing three-word sentences with ones that go on for half a page, ignoring conventional grammar rules and relying a tad too much on philosophical similes. Still, the plot moves along briskly enough. The first third of the novel is incredi ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, this book reminds me of Anna Karenina. There are historical aspects, love interests, views on class and race and general thoughts on life and how different people live it. There is no easy and quick way to sum up a book like this. It is too multi-faceted.

The book is written in three parts. It starts in the Civil War. A young man from Vermont is wounded, found by a runaway slave and falls in love. Then, we move on with one of his son's who is determined to get away from the Vermont
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
An ambitious novel on my reading list that was also recommended by Darlene & Ginalie. It's the story of 3 generations of a family beginning with a Vermont farmer/Civil War soldier who marries a runaway slave. It's a powerful story, though the account of the second-generation son who tries to leave his past behind by successfully "passing" in white society probably goes on too long. But the Graham-Greene-type ending that brings the book's themes together so powerfully almost makes up for it. Ther ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book moved me. I find these books that I read on days of slavery really are wonderful books. I think that we all need to read them and be reminded of the horrible experiences african americans faced. This story of a love affair between two people, one black, one white was intense. The trials, the love, are all the same that people face today. As the book unravels, the story takes us through three generations of the couple that started it all, Leah and Norman.
The sadness that she felt, and
Michael Alan Grapin
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Norman Pelham returns to the family farm in Vermont after serving the Union in the Civil War. He's brought with him Leah, the run away slave who nursed him back to health after he was wounded. She's now his bride and so begins a story that spans three generations and six decades of Americana. The author's prose are occasionally too ponderous and difficult for me to fathom but the story was engaging and worth the effort.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The descriptive phrases in this book draw you in. In some authors this wordiness is annoying. In this book it seems fitting and right.

The pace of the book keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Great character development-lots of them you don't like as a person but find intriguing through their thoughts and actions.
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Had this book given to me by someone who was cleaning house prior to moving, otherwise I would probably never have known about it. What a delight! An epic story covering 3 generations. Writing style reminiscent of Faulkner and McCarthy. Very enjoyable. I'll seek more from this author.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
A generational saga with deep, beautiful writing and rich, developed characters. Definitely not a book you can rush through. The negatives? There were parts of the book that droned on and were hard to get through. And the ending was very abrupt and disappointing.
Amanda Ferrell
At times this was really enjoyable, with beautiful prose that seemed to advance the action and add to it. Other times, it felt like Jeffery Lent was very much in love with what he had to say and how to say it, whether or not is really needed to be said.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to believe this is Lent's first novel. It is so rich in character, action, and landscape, beautifully told. He delves deep into the consciousness of people and puzzles over their intentions and rationalizations, and how truly fouled up we all are.
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Set in the aftermath of the US Civil War - a beautiful, engrossing novel about the psychological complexities of racism = both internal and external. A great family saga.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Very interesting and different book. Difficult to read, at times. I would like to see what others say about the book.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Norman, a Union soldier during the Civil War, is injured at the end of the war and left on the battlefield. A young African-American woman, Leah, finds him and cares for him until he is able to make his way north to his home. They come in contact again along the way and she shares some of her history. Along the way to his family farm in Vermont they marry. The local people do not welcome Leah but they are not awful to her because she is a hard worker, adds a successful egg business to the sheep ...more
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