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Fall on Your Knees

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  62,150 ratings  ·  3,107 reviews
They are the Pipers of Cape Breton Island — a family steeped in lies and unspoken truths that reach out from the past, forever mindful of the tragic secret that could shatter the family to its foundations. Chronicling five generations of this eccentric clan, Fall on Your Knees follows four remarkable sisters whose lives are filled with driving ambition, inescapable family ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 672 pages
Published October 29th 2002 by Pocket Books (first published 1996)
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Shayna Sparling 1. My guess is that Frances was obsessed with getting pregnant because she wanted to correct her mistake when she accidentally played a role in killin…more1. My guess is that Frances was obsessed with getting pregnant because she wanted to correct her mistake when she accidentally played a role in killing Lily's twin. She thought Ginger was Lily's father, so she wanted him to get her pregnant so she could give birth to a replacement.

2. Because of racism.

3. Not sure how to help here.

4. No, of course not. That's one of the reasons why she ran away. Mercedes was crazy. (less)
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Elaine Buckley
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  62,150 ratings  ·  3,107 reviews

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May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stupid people read books because Oprah says so. Other stupid people won't read a book just because Oprah picked it to be part of her club. The second group of stupid people think they are very smart though, and they are usually pretentious windbags who say very stupid shit but with big words that people are supposed to be impressed with. The people in the second group will never read this awesome book, and I don't feel sorry for them because they don't deserve it.
(A note: Of the second group th
Liberty Abbott-Sylvester
Jul 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Liberty by: Novel Ladies 5 Star Nomination
OMG, I hated this book. It was painful to read. I spent a good 3 hours trying to read this book and ended up skimming the rest of it so I could be done with it.
MacDonald covers just about every topic in her book: racial tension, isolation, domestic abuse, and forbidden love, which leads to incest, death, and even murder, but does it in a very complicated way that will turn many readers away.
I consider myself a strong reader-one who has fantastic reading comprehension but this book tests even t
2.5 stars !

Jaidee fell on his knees and screamed


How can a book that is written well with many excellent elements cause such dire frustration and become a hodgepodge mess????

Ms. Macdonald is a very good writer with wonderful ideas that seem limitless but unfortunately she tried to fit them all in the span of one novel. There are a thousand stories in here and none get developed. She creates a number of interesting characters only to plaster them with more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Oprah Book Club, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
For 15 years (1996-2010), Oprah Winfrey picked books for her book club. Out of the 69 titles that she chose only 13 (19%) have appeared in at least any of the three (2006, 2008, 2010) editions of Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die:
4 by TONI MORRISON (Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon)

2 by CHARLES DICKENS (A Tale of the Two Cities and Great Expectations)

2 by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera)

1 each by LEO TOLSTO
Carissa  Rogers
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was in a super geeky frame of mind when I read this book in early spring of 2012. I had been reading books about metaphors (see I told you... geeky). And as fate would have it I picked up this book suggested probably via the stream of books suggested on Amazon after you look at a book title there—right after my nerdy metaphor phase.

I literally started writing down metaphors I came across in the prose of this book... AMAZING. Beautiful. I'm not talking about similes or simple comparisons peopl
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of a grown-up VC Andrews, except you can read it on the subway without feeling like a pervy 12 year-old. Very Gothic at times and the crazy family drama had me reading non-stop, despite all the main characters being unlikeable assholes in one way or another. One thing that bugged me was that some of the writing didn't seem historically accurate. Did people in the 1920s really say "barf?" Maybe they did, I don't know. Regardless, I couldn't put this down and I blew through i ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I have had this piece by Ann-Marie MacDonald on my to-read shelf for a significant amount of time, but never found the time to read it. When I took the plunge, I kicked myself for waiting so long, as there was a great deal to enjoy within it and seems worthy of the accolades it’s received. New Waterford, Nova Scotia is a small town on Cape Breton Island, along Canada’s East Coast. At the turn of the 20th century, things were bustling and the population quite varied. It was this that brought Jame ...more
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An amazingly harsh view of the hardships of life.

This book is most definitely one of my favorites. It is absolutely amazing. It's scandalous, it's real, it's intriguing, it's just plain -good-! MacDonald's writing style creates an interactive world that pulls you in to first person view of the characters' lives.

The story follows the Piper family, a unique little set up of father and four daughters. Mr. Piper's wife has passed, leaving him to fend for himself in a home bursting to the seams with
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, canada
Lily stays sitting. “Frances. What if Ambrose is the Devil?” “He’s not the Devil. I know who the Devil is and it isn’t Ambrose.” “Who’s the Devil?” Frances crouches down as if she were talking to Trixie. “That’s something I’ll never tell you, Lily, no matter how old you get to be, because the Devil is shy. It makes him angry when someone recognizes him, so once they do the Devil gets after them. And I don’t want the Devil to get after you.” “Is the Devil after you?”

This is Ann-Marie MacDo
Shawna Williams
Mar 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Actually, I give this sort of a three b/c the author's style was oddly skillful, as a story though, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Parts of the books were intriguing, other parts disturbing -- but given the subject matter I see no way around that; and yet, I can't quite get past it either.

Frankly I'm just really conflicted. The writing style was definitely interesting. Choppy, metaphoric, sensational; the author was very effective in putting me inside the characters' heads. I admire her abi
Jun 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book left me wanting to slash my wrists-- especially when I think about the time I spent reading it that I can never get back.

Many people loved this book. I am not one of them. The characters are shallow,self-involved and just plain crazy and while I realize that this is just like the people you meet in your everyday I life, it doesn't necessarily mean I want to read about them unless they are delivered in a well-written story that makes them shine a little. This is not that kind of story.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
Okay - this is the second "Oprah's Book Club" book that I've read and, like DROWNING RUTH(Christina Schwartz), I disliked the story due to the disturbingly depressing plot. In DROWNING RUTH, the whole idea of a mentally-ill and controlling aunt (Amanda) ruining the life of her little niece (Ruth) after the girl's mother (Mathilda) mysteriously fell through the ice and drowned one cold winter eve was merely depressing; in FALL ON YOUR KNEES, however,the pervading theme of incest was more than dis ...more
Melissa Madrid
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Ann-Marie MacDonald by accident, when I bought The Way the Crow Flies in a used bookstore during a biblioemergency. She hooked me instantly with her ability to get inside childhood, and her searingly real portraits of life in the 1960s, with the bonus of superb storytelling acumen and writing that is a pleasure to read. I read Fall on Your Knee second and had that wonderful enjoyment of a second shot of a writer who you liked so much the first time you didn't think you could have th ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it liked it
there are 17,636 ratings and 1,500 reviews of this book. if you want to see them all you have to scroll through eight hundred sixteen pages. i just noticed because i wanted to see if anyone else found this novel picaresque. no one did in the first three pages. if someone could search the other 813 and report to me, i'd be grateful.

so, i found this novel picaresque, or at least somewhat picaresque. it seems clearly picaresque to me when frances is in the narrative. i don't have a tremendous pass
Nicky Dierx
I read this book because my partner and I have an agreement. We both love wildly different styles of books, so we each choose one of our favourites and make the other person read it. This was her choice (I made her read A game of thrones in case you're wondering).

I hated this book for it's subject matter and content. The damn thing ended just when it started getting interesting and glossed over anything that was actually worth finding out more about. (roughly the last third was fantastic, but sh
Apr 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
I kept picking it up and putting it down in frustration. I know so many people loved it, but when I saw it come up on Oprah's book list I just wanted to die. So much was happening, but being written about in the most boring way possible. It didn't hold my interest, which is rare since as a Canadian I was brought up on the typical Canadian novel diet. It amazes me how so many Canadian writers can write books where lots of big important things happen, yet do it in a way that just makes them so b.o ...more
One of those cases that I wonder if I read a different book than everyone else. I’m not going to give this book anymore of my time by writing a detailed review. The only reason I’m giving it two stars is because I did actually finish it and the beginning was interesting. Then it just dragged on and on until my eyes glazed over. Nope.
Jess The Bookworm
This is a novel set in a coal mining community in Canada and spans from before World War I, through the roaring 20s, and the great depression, as it follows the story of the Piper family.

It follows the characters of James Piper as he marries his child bride Materia, who comes from a conservative Catholic Lebonese family, and due to the scandal of their marriage, is disinherited. They start to have children, and then everything starts to get twisted. It appears that Mr Piper has way too much of
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-lit
I loved this book! It was beautiful, witty, poignant, sad and educational.James was a sick,sick man. Families can really have so many dark secrets.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
A novel full of dark secrets, revealed gradually over the course of its immense length. I had this book on my shelf for over three years before attempting to read it, wondering how the author would sustain my interest over its 560-plus pages. And, once making the bold attempt to finally pick-up the book, I had difficulty putting it down at times.

The novel is visual, reminiscent of a screenplay. MacDonald uses a variety of techniques to hook the reader: the rapid mixing of tenses and point-of-vie
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MacDonald( the Canadian actress and playwrite)has truely shown the depth and beauty of her talent in her debut novel, Fall on Your Knees. Her words flow with ease, allowing the story to unfold as though real and not on a page. The historical detail, layers of generations and depth of the characters draw you in as you live their lives with them.

Fall on Your Knees is a story of a family from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It is centered around four sisters and their relationships with each other and wi
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know now that I have read the saddest book of 2020.
I love it.
I hate it.
I mourn it.
I cherish it.
I just want to go back and fix it but I can’t. I just have to drink my tea and listen. I guess.
You will have to read to the very last word if you want to know why the book is called fall on your knees.

“Having experienced her own disappearance, she’s conscious of how important it is for people to be seen, so when she looks at them – even the blind one - she also looks for them, just in case they to ha
Where do I even start with this one? This is heavy, heavy stuff, full to the brim with family secrets. And some of these are some pretty hardcore secrets. When asked by a co-worker what I was reading lately, I barely knew what to say - "Well, this book about a family, and their gross father, and there's a lot of incest..." But while there is definitely a very strong undercurrent of incesty feelings and behavior running through the entire novel, there is much more to it.

It's hard to give a high l
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fabulous year 2018 is turning out to be, as far as books are concerned. I had the pleasure of reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, for the first time this year. Same with The Last Samurai, by Helen DeWitt. Fantastic novels, both of them, of course, and I had waited far too long. And now this. This!


I'm in love again. With a book. Again.
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
Here is one of those novels I won't be forgetting. It's a family saga surrounding a man with a tragic flaw and the women in his life. I disliked James Piper as much as I can remember disliking any literary character, and felt a different kind of sympathy for each of the women surrounding him--his wife Materia and their daughters, especially Materia and Frances. The story unfolds a little at a time, as Frances comes closer and closer to realizing some of the truths that are fundamental in her lif ...more
Kara Babcock
Sometimes the best books are the books that are actually more than one story. Fall On Your Knees is a difficult book to summarize, or review, in a way that could do it justice. It is one of those sweeping multi-generational pieces of historical fiction, but at the same time it’s really just a story about four sisters. Against the backdrop of Cape Breton Island and New York City from the turn of the 20th century all the way to the advent of World War II, Ann-Marie MacDonald shows us how the good ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I stayed up until 3:30am last night to finish the last 60+ pages of Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. I'll admit that I am always a bit of a night owl but even I don't stay up that late often. However I just couldn't put this book down. As the book wraps up it just pulls you in like passing a bad car accident. You know it's going to be disturbing and hard to watch but you can't look away.

Fall On Your Knees (Oprah #45)The book follows the Piper family from the late 1890's through several
Dec 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horrible
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer (aka EM)
This five-star rating is the one I gave Ann-Marie MacDonald's powerhouse first novel the first time around, but I confess I was remembering and rating it at a great distance. I'm going to think on my second rating a bit more, but I can tell you that this was a very different read this time. I don't know that I liked it as much - although I recognize the mastery of its writing and characterization, and the amazing imagination behind the story. And I love how Cape Breton it was. But it was also gr ...more
What to say about this devastating masterpiece? It's the 2nd time I've read it, and while it was hard to read the 1st time, I think re-reading is perhaps worse, because I knew the horrible thing that was coming (incest/rape). I don't really know how Ann-Marie MacDonald writes beautifully about such dark things, telling the intergenerational story of this fucked up family. The voice actor does an incredible job with the audiobook. If you can stomach it, this is a masterpiece, as I said. But fuck ...more
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Ann-Marie MacDonald is a Canadian playwright, novelist, actor and broadcast journalist who lives in Toronto, Ontario. The daughter of a member of Canada's military, she was born at an air force base near Baden-Baden, West Germany.

MacDonald won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, which was also named to Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

She received the Governor General'

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