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Literature / Fall On Your Knees

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Fall On Your Knees is a 1996 novel by Ann Marie MacDonald. It follows the Piper family from patriarch James' meeting with Materia, through the lives of their four daughters. The novel rose to critical and commercial success as an Oprah's Book Club selection in 2002.


Some of the tropes that appear in the novel include:

  • Abusive Parents: James, particularly toward Frances and Kathleen, and Materia is emotionally abusive.
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  • Cats Are Magic/Cats Have Nine Lives: Played with. One scene evokes the possibility of the family cat doing something magical...then he gets locked in an attic trunk and they don't find him for many years.
  • Infant Immortality: An inversion, as several babies die during the course of the plot.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Lily's club foot gives her near-magical qualities.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: It is a multi-generational family story, after all, set in small-town Nova Scotia.
  • Parental Incest: A theme throughout the book. James goes to war to try and rid himself of his attraction to his daughter. He later impregnates Kathleen by raping her. She subsequently dies during a horribly botched C-section, although some of it is Death by Despair. He also abuses Frances, although it's not clear if he does so with his other children.
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  • Time Skip: From James and Materia's marriage to the girls as older children and teens to the girls many years on.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: An in-universe example, with their poor cat.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Played with. The men at the bar seem to see Frances as a sort of mascot and ignore how young she is.
  • World War I: James is a Shell-Shocked Veteran of the war, although his problems started beforehand.


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