1990s Other Prizes

Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald

Winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, Shortlisted for the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Shortlisted for the 1996 Giller Prize

Fall on Your Knees is a long, complex story about 4 sisters living on Cape Breton Island in Canada. The sisters’ parents regret their marriage, as Materia was just a child when she married James. They are clearly mis-matched and Materia struggles to cope with being removed from her Lebanese family. The book begins in 1898 and follows the family as they deal with secrets, betrayal and tragedy.

It took me a long time to read this 560 page epic, but it was worth the effort. I loved the sisters and the complex relationships between them. All the characters were well developed, flawed and steeped with intrigue. I admit that I became confused on several occasions and had to re-read sections in order to understand what was happening. This was due to the fact that the book switched between several narrators and jumped forward and back in time, with no indication of who I was now reading about. I think that this confusion was key to the plot though – not knowing who was speaking at several points helped to maintain the secrets and meant the reader had a more interesting mystery to solve.

The atmosphere of the book was excellent. It had the feel of a Gothic novel, but the Canadian setting made it different from anything I’ve read before. The writing was of a very high standard, so I’m not surprised that it received so much recognition from the world’s book awards.

I must warn you that this book deals with some difficult subject matters: paedophilia, incest and rape are all present in this book along with discussions on religion and war. I thought it was all handled sensitively though, showing the shocking truth about what occurs in society, without sensationalising it.

Fall on Your Knees had me gripped throughout. I am very impressed with Ann-Marie MacDonald’s writing and will try to get hold of all her other books as soon as possible.

Highly recommended to anyone with the patience to understand what is happening!


Have you read anything by Ann-Marie MacDonald?

Which is your favourite?

Claire: Thank you for lending me your copy of this book! 

2009 Crime

The Brutal Telling – Louise Penny


The Brutal Telling‘); ?> is set in a remote, artistic community surrounded by the forests of Quebec. The book begins with the discovery of an unknown hermit’s body in the town’s bistro. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate the crime, in this, the fifth book in the series.

I haven’t read any books written by Loiuse Penny before, but I am always on the look out for a great new crime series to follow. Unfortunately this book failed to live up to my expectations.

The pace of the book was very fast, as a high percentage of it was dialogue. I wanted to know what the characters were thinking and feeling, but instead I only witnessed a string of events.

I found the writing to be quite passive and the characters failed to engage me. My problem in connecting with the characters could be due to the fact that this is the fifth in the series, but I was assured that this book would work as a stand alone novel, and many other people have enjoyed it with out having read the first four books.

The title implies that this will be a very dark novel, but it felt more like a cozy mystery to me, with very little menace. The plot itself was quite basic and lacked the cunning twists and turns that I love in crime fiction. I guessed the murderer quite early on and was disappointed to discover that I was correct.

The writing was of a high standard and there were many good sections in the book, but overall it failed to impress me.

Recommended to people who enjoy fast paced, simple cozy mysteries.


I seem to be one of the only people who didn’t enjoy with this book though: Kittling Books, Ms Bookish and Bibliophile by the Sea all loved it.

Did you enjoy The Brutal Telling?

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s other books?

Book Prizes Other Other Prizes

Giller Prize Longlist 2009

The longlist for the Giller Prize 2009 was announced yesterday. The Giller prize is awarded annually to the best Canadian fiction. The titles to make it through were:

  • The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  • The Incident Report – Martha Bailie
  • The Disappeared – Kim Echlin
  • The Heart Specialist  – Claire Holden Rothman
  • The Color of Lighting – Paulette Jiles
  • The Factory Voice – Jeanette Lynes
  • The Golden Mean – Annabel Lyon
  • The Bishop’s Man – Linden MacIntyre
  • Fall – Colin McAdam
  • The Winter Vault – Anne Michaels
  • Valmiki’s Daughter – Shani Mootoo
  • The Mistress of Nothing – Kate Pullinger

The only authors I had heard of were Anne Michaels and Margaret Atwood, but a quick browse through the list of previous books to make the shortlist revealed a lot of ones that I not only recognised, but also loved. Although I am not planning to read the entire longlist, or even the shortlist when it is announced on 6th October, I am going to pay much more attention to this prize in the future.

I am planning to read a few books shortlisted for the Giller prize soon.

Next week I am going to read De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage. This was originally recommended to me by Claire from Kiss a Cloud. It won the 2008 International IMPAC Literary Award, but I didn’t realise it had been shortlisted for the Giller as well.

I am also planning to read Alligator by Lisa Moore soon. I discovered it at a car boot sale and loved the cover and blurb. I have never heard anyone mention it before though – have you read Alligator?

On twitter yesterday we were discussing the Giller prize; Nymeth recommended Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson and Claire recommended The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak. I ordered both, so I’ll get round to reading them at some point too.

I’d like to remind you that my favourite book won the Giller Prize in 2001. If you haven’t read A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry yet – you are missing out!

Do you follow the Giller Prize?

Which is your favourite book from the Giller Prize shortlists?