The story of the Piper family is one of sadness, heartbreak and well-kept secrets. “Fall on Your Knees” centers around the four unforgettable Piper sisters, Kathleen, Mercedes, Frances and Lily. Each sister is unique and has a story of her own.
James Piper moves to the small town of Cape Breton in Novia Scotia after the death of his mother. At just 18-years-old, James’ only skill is tuning pianos. He quickly falls in love with the beautiful 12-year-old Materia Mahmoud and convinces her to abandon her traditional Lebanese family and run away to be married. By the time Materia is 14, she’s given birth to their first daughter, Kathleen. Kathleen is a beautiful, gifted daughter, but Materia is unable to love her. On the other hand, the young, talented Kathleen is the star of her father’s life.
Other daughters follow, each completely different and individual - Mercedes is the good girl. Frances is the wild, unruly daughter, and then comes Lily, the crippled daughter of first-born Kathleen.
As the story travels over multi-generations, the layered, dark secrets of one small family are slowly revealed until, in the end, there is only the youngest, Lily, to try and find redemption and closure.
“Fall on Your Knees” is about obsession - a dark, dangerous obsession. With expertly layered secrets, painful truths and inescapable family bonds, Macdonald paints a vivid, and sometimes disturbing, portrayal of family relationships.
It was obvious throughout that Macdonald truly loved her characters. There was heartbreaking compassion for each of the four sisters and the burden of secrets they were forced to carry. The most interesting and most prominent, for me, was Frances. She dealt with the dark secrets by spinning out of control until her misery and pain was unlike that of any character I have ever met on the pages of a book. She was truly memorable, and I still have a clear vision of her today.
Macdonald’s writing is beautiful, and her love of language is obvious. Maybe a little too much so in certain places. There were parts of this book that were overwritten, but overall that didn’t take away from the story. She is a true storyteller and clearly enjoys her gift.
“Fall on Your Knees” was like a tragic news story in that you don’t really want to hear it, but you can’t pull yourself away either. It’s a page turner without a doubt, but at times, I found I was afraid of what I was going to find as the next painful truth was revealed.
With passionate, memorable characters, beautiful writing and a rich, but dark and twisting plot, “Fall on Your Knees” is definitely worth reading.
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