Summary

A man climbs over the railings and plunges into Niagara Falls. A newlywed, he has left behind his wife, Ariah Erskine, in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding. "The Widow Bride of The Falls", as Ariah comes to be known, begins a relentless, seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side throughout, confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby is unexpectedly transfixed by the strange, otherworldly gaze of this plain, strange woman, falling in love with her though they barely exchange a word. What follows is their passionate love affair, marriage, and children, a seemingly perfect existence. But the tragedy by which their life together began shadows them, damaging their idyll with distrust, greed, and even murder. What unfurls is a drama of parents and their children; of secrets and sins; of lawsuits, murder, and eventually redemption.
Set against the mythic historic backdrop of Niagara Falls, Joyce Carol Oates explores the American family in crisis, but also America itself in the mid-20th century. The Falls is a love story gone wrong and righted, and it alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the great American novelists.
©2004 Joyce Carol Oates and HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. (P)2004 BBC Audiobooks America Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Powerful, compassionate, and ruefully humorous. The Falls is another example of Oates's inexhaustible brilliance." ( BookPage
"Oates spins a haunting story in which nature and humans are equally rapacious and self-destructive." ( Publishers Weekly)
"This passionate, compulsively readable novel displays the full range of Oates' singular obsessions: the destructiveness of secrets; eccentric female characters given to rapacious appetites and volatile emotions; and the mysterious way that human emotion is mirrored in the natural world. Vivid and memorable reading from the madly prolific Oates." ( Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Harry I. Shuman on 26-07-05

Clean Out Your Ears

I must take exception with several reviewers who complained about the narration of this remarkable book: it is equal to the task in every respect. In fact, I ended up searching for other titles read by the same narrator. The book, itself, is worth every moment of the time spent listening and now, two weeks after finishing it, the story continues to haunt me. Those simply looking for a good story will not be disappointed - you get twenty years of plot with intricate twists and turns. Dig a little deeper and you get such remarkable descriptions of characters and situations you actually watch while they materialize in front of you. I occasionally laughed, frequently got angry, and more times than I would like to admit felt a lump form in the back of my throat. Ultimately, you hope for justice for the many injustices thrust upon the characters, and while there is a satisfying conclusion, it feels real rather than contrived. Except for "We We the Mulvaneys" which I read a few years ago, I had not read any other Joyce Carol Oates since attending college in the 1970s. "The Falls" reminded me of what I have been missing. Ms. Oates is a prolific writer and am looking forward to reading everything I've missed over the last 30 years.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By David E. Corbin on 31-01-05

Engaging throughout

This was a fully entertaining and captivating book. Weeks later, I still think about the characters.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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