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In the Fall [Audiobook]

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Spanning the post-Civil War era to the edge of the Great Depression, In the Fall is a richly layered rendering of a rapidly evolving America from life on the farm, through the final years of Prohibition and bootlegging, to the advent of modern times. Jeffrey Lent illumines the ineluctable connections that exist between black and white, North and South, past and present, as Spanning the post-Civil War era to the edge of the Great Depression, In the Fall is a richly layered rendering of a rapidly evolving America from life on the farm, through the final years of Prohibition and bootlegging, to the advent of modern times. Jeffrey Lent illumines the ineluctable connections that exist between black and white, North and South, past and present, as well as the violent collisions they give rise to. In the Fall is a vision of an American landscape and history, and a portrait of an American family.


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Spanning the post-Civil War era to the edge of the Great Depression, In the Fall is a richly layered rendering of a rapidly evolving America from life on the farm, through the final years of Prohibition and bootlegging, to the advent of modern times. Jeffrey Lent illumines the ineluctable connections that exist between black and white, North and South, past and present, as Spanning the post-Civil War era to the edge of the Great Depression, In the Fall is a richly layered rendering of a rapidly evolving America from life on the farm, through the final years of Prohibition and bootlegging, to the advent of modern times. Jeffrey Lent illumines the ineluctable connections that exist between black and white, North and South, past and present, as well as the violent collisions they give rise to. In the Fall is a vision of an American landscape and history, and a portrait of an American family.

30 review for In the Fall [Audiobook]

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    A wonderful story, beautifully told. Five words that could stand alone as a review of this book, but it's not enough to convey just how wonderful, how beautiful it really is. Leave aside the fact that it is the story of three generations of a family with some serious baggage. Forget the prose that lifts off the page and sings in your brain. The rising and falling action, the descriptions of the natural world, the intrusion of history, attention to detail that never once falls short; all these thi A wonderful story, beautifully told. Five words that could stand alone as a review of this book, but it's not enough to convey just how wonderful, how beautiful it really is. Leave aside the fact that it is the story of three generations of a family with some serious baggage. Forget the prose that lifts off the page and sings in your brain. The rising and falling action, the descriptions of the natural world, the intrusion of history, attention to detail that never once falls short; all these things are just taken for granted the deeper we go into the Pelham family saga. What made this book a special one for me is that from 1862 when Norman Pelham leaves his Vermont farm to fight in the Civil War, gets wounded, and brings back the runaway slave girl who nursed him as his wife, until the September of 1929 when their grandson goes to North Carolina to piece together his grandmother's past, I lived every moment of the 67 years of this novel right beside these characters. I felt every ache in their bones, saw the world through their eyes, worried about their children, and loved and hated and tolerated all the same things. I don't know how Jeffrey Lent does this, but he performs some kind of magic with words to insert you into the pages, and doesn't let go until the last sentence. This book took me one week in actual time to read, but I added 67 years to my reading age, which is already considerable. I'm tired now, but the journey was worth it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim Marshall

    Having borrowed this book from my daughter who had gotten it in a second hand book store and not read and having never myself herd of the author I had no preconceived notion of what these pages had in store for me. However, once I got going I could not put this book down. I say “once I got going” because to be honest I found Lent’s style a bit hard to get use to. And his style is also a bit hard to describe. It is not that he is very descriptive or that the subject matter is historical fiction o Having borrowed this book from my daughter who had gotten it in a second hand book store and not read and having never myself herd of the author I had no preconceived notion of what these pages had in store for me. However, once I got going I could not put this book down. I say “once I got going” because to be honest I found Lent’s style a bit hard to get use to. And his style is also a bit hard to describe. It is not that he is very descriptive or that the subject matter is historical fiction or that he uses a language is a sort of old colloquial English. All of these may be true but this was not what bothered me. It is more that he has the characters talk, think or emote in a sort of stream of conscious style that is amazingly ripe with emotion and soulful beauty and insight. I found that the thoughts in these passages were both complex and intertwined and yet, once I imbibed them, I found them unbelievably compelling. This is not how I am use to being communicated with. It was, at least for me a bit unnerving and quite taxing at times. I found myself, particularly at first, rereading passages several times to get the full impact of the words. This was hard work, in fact it was too much work and had this been a lesser work of art I would have put it down. But I found profound gravity and deep emotion here. And, fortunately, as I got more accustomed to Lent’s style the effort became less taxing and the read even more enthralling. Often I found my self agape at the end of passage wondering if this was not perhaps one of the best works of art I had ever had the privilege to read. I would stop and quite latterly exclaim "this guy is an amazing author" and I became convinced as I read that this work by Lent will indeed become a classic and that it will survive the ages. I do not think this book is for everyone. It is for those who appreciate a great work of fiction. It is for those people who love to be touched in places in their souls that they forgot existed. It is for those who don’t mind a bit of mental work and those who can find beauty even in the scars of the humane condition. I will not reveal the content of the book. Other reviewers have done a bit of this. Besides, I think it is impossible to judge this book by either it’s cover or even it’s reviews. This book will be different things to different people. Too me it is beautiful thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    KrisT

    This was almost a 5 star book for me. I loved the language, the writing the characters. I was transfixed by the first characters introduced and the family saga that developed from the battle fields of the civil war to the bootlegging in the New England states. There were moments in the writing that you stopped and reread the words and wanted to share their beauty with someone but knowing that only you in that moment could experience the full meaning... just beautiful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lbball27

    What beautiful writing, truly breathtaking. the story was compelling,at times heart wrenching. loved norman and leah,prudence and abigail,and Foster!! So many beautiful lines and passages ....just one "He was not simple in love but ferocious with it." Thank you Jeffery Lent,want to read more of your stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    Writing was good, characters were very believable, but the thing that really irked me about this book was the constant something-big-is-around-the-corner baiting. And in the end, hundreds of pages later, it wasn't that big, or that surprising.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    There's something suspicious about the power of Jeffrey Lent's "In the Fall." Is this really the work of a first-time novelist, or is it some late discovery of a book by William Faulkner? "In the Fall" moves through three generations of the Pelham family with stunning success. The novel starts in gloaming silence, deep in the Vermont woods, and builds like a thunderstorm coming over the horizon. By the end, 60 years and more than 500 pages later, the lightning scalps your soul. When young Norman d There's something suspicious about the power of Jeffrey Lent's "In the Fall." Is this really the work of a first-time novelist, or is it some late discovery of a book by William Faulkner? "In the Fall" moves through three generations of the Pelham family with stunning success. The novel starts in gloaming silence, deep in the Vermont woods, and builds like a thunderstorm coming over the horizon. By the end, 60 years and more than 500 pages later, the lightning scalps your soul. When young Norman decides to do his part in the Civil War, he and his father have nothing to say to each other. "They rode on to the strained creak of harness leather above the heavy wheels crumbling the road dust, the father's heart clattering as if loosed from a pivot in his chest and the heart of the boy also in fearsome ratchet." When he walks back to Vermont three years later with a young black wife, his father is already dead and enough personal and national history has been interred to poison the ground for decades. Norman's mother and sister hold the right Abolitionist notions, but those are sorely tested by the presence of the first black person they've ever seen. Leah is a headstrong woman who escaped slavery in the final months of the war by murdering her one-armed owner in Sweetboro, N.C. Though Norman adores her, though her in-laws accept her, though her three new children delight her, eventually nothing can quell her thirst for knowledge about the family she left behind. The past is a palpable presence in this novel, never fading so much as sinking into the soil out of which each new generation grows. Lent has an almost geological patience when it comes to laying down the layers that make up his plot and characters. Weary of the taunts and isolation of being a mixed-race child, Norman's youngest son, Jamie, slips away from the farm while the others sleep. The novel's second part shifts to Bethlehem, N.H., where Jamie quickly falls in love with a crude bar singer from Quebec and remakes himself as a bootlegger in a thicket of corruption. If the novel has any flaw, it's a touch of pulp that swells up during a few love scenes. Violence and rape cause all kinds of physical and emotional problems for these characters, but their lovemaking still sounds like one of Victoria's Secrets. Nevertheless, Lent proves himself as adept with this small-time gangster tale as he is with the story in the deep Vermont woods. Jamie's growing frustration with his unstable life is perfectly, painfully drawn. "He rose each day," Lent writes, "not rested but further abraded as if the sheets and the hours in the armchair worked at the thin layer of skin over him that was daily nothing more than a sack to hold his stranded heart." In the novel's final section, Jamie's son, Foster, returns to his grandmother's story, driven by the same deadly urge for knowledge and understanding that ruined her life. Now almost entirely dialogue, the novel shifts to Foster's conversation with an old man who seems to hold the key to his family's genealogy of anguish. By this time, we're entirely caught up with Foster's grimaced search for the truth, a racial history fitfully buried beneath generations of lies and generalized guilt. Confronted with his blood-soaked past, Foster "wondered how a man might know this and go on." But in the end, he realizes that knowing this is, in fact, the only way forward. http://www.csmonitor.com/2000/0406/p1...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gerri

    Good read.....not. I very rarely (I don't think ever) give one star for a book. I love to read and can usually find something to like about almost any book I read. This was my exception. If you like slogging through heavy prose and 70 word sentences then this is definitely the book for you. I, however, had a hard time finishing it. I did finish though, because part of me kept wanting so badly for it to get better. This time period is one of my favorites and I was really looking foward to explori Good read.....not. I very rarely (I don't think ever) give one star for a book. I love to read and can usually find something to like about almost any book I read. This was my exception. If you like slogging through heavy prose and 70 word sentences then this is definitely the book for you. I, however, had a hard time finishing it. I did finish though, because part of me kept wanting so badly for it to get better. This time period is one of my favorites and I was really looking foward to exploring the post-Civil War themes that the synopsis promised. I just felt I had to wade through so much "stuff" to get to the "meat" of the story and once there, there wasn't much to bite. And after all of that slogging the ending was especially disappointing. The secret revealed, feels contrived and not as shocking as the synopsis promises. All in all a great disappointment and leaves me wondering why I didn't just listen to my gut feeling and move on the next book on the shelf.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    My only regret with this book is that it took me two and half months to read. I had a lot going on and this book is detailed, dense and heavy. But all in a good and positive way. The author does not let up with the heavy subject matter. Good grief, the last 10 pages are brutally heavy on the heart. I might be wounded by knowing the details and the answers. Quote from last pages might explain some of my grief, “oh boy,” he said turning from her, “am I ever f#%ked up.” Thanks to Diane B for the re My only regret with this book is that it took me two and half months to read. I had a lot going on and this book is detailed, dense and heavy. But all in a good and positive way. The author does not let up with the heavy subject matter. Good grief, the last 10 pages are brutally heavy on the heart. I might be wounded by knowing the details and the answers. Quote from last pages might explain some of my grief, “oh boy,” he said turning from her, “am I ever f#%ked up.” Thanks to Diane B for the recommendation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This was Jeffrey Lent's 1st novel and most of the action takes place in new England. It is the story of a family's (interracial) life from the end of the Civil War through prohibition. This was the first novel I have read where the issue of "passing" in a white world was a primary theme. The effect of this on a family is devastating and isolating at times. It becomes a "secret". Basically, Norman, the main character walks home to Vermont after the Civil War with the woman who he loves who also h This was Jeffrey Lent's 1st novel and most of the action takes place in new England. It is the story of a family's (interracial) life from the end of the Civil War through prohibition. This was the first novel I have read where the issue of "passing" in a white world was a primary theme. The effect of this on a family is devastating and isolating at times. It becomes a "secret". Basically, Norman, the main character walks home to Vermont after the Civil War with the woman who he loves who also happens to be black. The book addresses slavery, racism, sexual struggles and family antagonisms in a unique way. Lent's prose can be difficult but the book is worth ploughing through. It seems particularly timely given current events and the continued prejudices often felt by mixed race people here. It would be an interesting book club choice for discussion.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie Daniels

    Oh how I love this book! I simply can't wait to get back to it each day. It will not appeal to everyone but I love the story, the characters and the writing is incredible to me. Will follow up this review when finished. This author also wrote Lost Nation one of my favorites. August 3, 2013 I am 3/4 through this book and I don't want it to end. This authors sentences are so exceptional, descriptions are so vivid, I can visualize these people and care about them! August 5 2013. Sad to report I am fi Oh how I love this book! I simply can't wait to get back to it each day. It will not appeal to everyone but I love the story, the characters and the writing is incredible to me. Will follow up this review when finished. This author also wrote Lost Nation one of my favorites. August 3, 2013 I am 3/4 through this book and I don't want it to end. This authors sentences are so exceptional, descriptions are so vivid, I can visualize these people and care about them! August 5 2013. Sad to report I am finished with this book and it was one of the best books I have ever read. Long, and rich with exceptional character development and story line. I can't say enough good things about this writer. I love these people and am sorry to see them go although I have not stopped thinking about them and they will always be with me in my mind

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Honestly I had a difficult time with the writing style of this book from the start in that it seems to try to use the broken English dialect of the Civil War era Americanease. The book jumps about from time to time in an odd fashion which makes you feel disoriented with what's happening. I put it down after a few chapters, growing tired of hearing about life on the farm and the difficulties the family has with farm life and integrating a black woman into the family farm. Sorry Mr Lent, I tried.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Another great book by Jeffrey Lent. If I have a single criticism, it's that this one could have used a little editing; it's really, really long, and heavy on description. Then again, description is one of Lent's strong points, and this is a sprawling family saga that runs through three generations. Besides, despite it's length, this is a real page-turner overall. The novel opens with Norman Pelham, a twice-wounded veteran of the Civil War, making his way back home to Vermont after being released Another great book by Jeffrey Lent. If I have a single criticism, it's that this one could have used a little editing; it's really, really long, and heavy on description. Then again, description is one of Lent's strong points, and this is a sprawling family saga that runs through three generations. Besides, despite it's length, this is a real page-turner overall. The novel opens with Norman Pelham, a twice-wounded veteran of the Civil War, making his way back home to Vermont after being released from service. He's accompanied by Leah, a beautiful runaway slave. Instead of taking a fast train home, Norman decided to walk home from Washington "to see the country"--much to his mother's dismay. And she is even more dismayed to learn that Leah is her son's new wife. It's the late 1860s, and even an abolitionist sympathizer like Mrs. Pelham feels this is taking things a bit too far. She moves into town, leaving the family farm to the young couple, with Norman's younger sister Connie stopping by every day to help out. Part I follows the Norman and Leah, along with their children, through the hard times and the good, their love overcoming every challenge and sorrow until a final blow and secrets from the past tear the family apart. I really don't want to give too much away. Suffice it to say that Part II focuses on the youngest child, Jamie, now an adult making his own way not too far from home. Something seems to haunt him; he's a quiet, overly cautious man but, like his mother, clever and resourceful. Jamie's sixteen-year old son, Foster, who is determined to uncover the truth about his father's past, brings the novel full circle in Part III. The novel explores issues of identity--the idea that we can never escape what made us who we are, and that running away from the past is never a clear-cut solution. Of course, it also examines attitudes towards race in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's a beautiful story of hope, perseverance, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    CML - Hilliard Branch Book Group selection (October 2001) A work of literary writing genius. An incredible story that stretches across generations written in a language of melodic prose. Book description from Amazon.com: "In the twilight of the Civil War, Leah, an escaped slave, discovers Norman Pelham, a wounded soldier who lies dying in a battlefield outside Richmond. After she nurses him back to health, Norman brings her to his family farm in Vermont as his wife, and they begin a family. Now th CML - Hilliard Branch Book Group selection (October 2001) A work of literary writing genius. An incredible story that stretches across generations written in a language of melodic prose. Book description from Amazon.com: "In the twilight of the Civil War, Leah, an escaped slave, discovers Norman Pelham, a wounded soldier who lies dying in a battlefield outside Richmond. After she nurses him back to health, Norman brings her to his family farm in Vermont as his wife, and they begin a family. Now the mother of three, and however begrudgingly, accepted in the community, Leah travels back to the South of her birth and returns with a secret that threatens to destroy what she and Norman had created. Her son Jamie, passing for white, escapes his legacy and enters a world of petty bootlegging, achieving a kind of respectability in the Prohibition era, but also suffering wrenching losses. At the eve of the Great Depression his son, Foster, retraces the path taken by his grandmother and finally confronts the secret exposed by an unknown white uncle, the legacy of slavery, and the painful intricacies of race."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This debut novel is at times luminous, but frankly more often dark and brooding. Ir follows three generations of a troubled family, beginning with young Civil War soldier Norman Pelham, who brings home to Vermont and marries Leah, the runaway slave who found him severely wounded and saved his life. The theme of racial tension plays a huge part in the story. Also looming large are themes of loss, recovery and redemption, as Jamie, the youngest offspring of this couple rejects his farm upbringing This debut novel is at times luminous, but frankly more often dark and brooding. Ir follows three generations of a troubled family, beginning with young Civil War soldier Norman Pelham, who brings home to Vermont and marries Leah, the runaway slave who found him severely wounded and saved his life. The theme of racial tension plays a huge part in the story. Also looming large are themes of loss, recovery and redemption, as Jamie, the youngest offspring of this couple rejects his farm upbringing and goes to the city where he finds himself swallowed up by a life of bootlegging and ruthless money-seeking. Eventually, this brutal life does him in, but not before he produces his own son, Foster. It is up to this bright young lad to return to the Vermont homestead, where he is surprised to discover his true heritage in the form of his two aunts. This is a deeply emotional and heart-rending study of identity and the unbreakable ties of heritage.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I tried. I really did. But this is one strange phenomenon. Did over a thousand readers really fail to notice that this is one obnoxious run on sentence? Where was the editor? My brain hurts now. I'm afraid it might be contagious. I didn't learn to break sentences apart into meaningful, clear an concise ideas easily. I was a fan of the run- on, I truly was, until at least seventh grade. I threw it out, a hard cover! into the recycling bin, fearful someone young and impressionable would pick up th I tried. I really did. But this is one strange phenomenon. Did over a thousand readers really fail to notice that this is one obnoxious run on sentence? Where was the editor? My brain hurts now. I'm afraid it might be contagious. I didn't learn to break sentences apart into meaningful, clear an concise ideas easily. I was a fan of the run- on, I truly was, until at least seventh grade. I threw it out, a hard cover! into the recycling bin, fearful someone young and impressionable would pick up the subject-free, run-on sentence habit.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Harold Titus

    In many respects Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall is a remarkable historical novel. Lent is a skilled narrator, he is knowledgeable about his subject matter, his observations about human conduct are incisive, and his characters are intriguingly exceptionally complex. Lent’s story spans three generations. It is essentially three novels all of which relate to a violent event that occurs in Sweetboro, North Carolina, at the end of the Civil War. Without giving away important details in the story, I offer In many respects Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall is a remarkable historical novel. Lent is a skilled narrator, he is knowledgeable about his subject matter, his observations about human conduct are incisive, and his characters are intriguingly exceptionally complex. Lent’s story spans three generations. It is essentially three novels all of which relate to a violent event that occurs in Sweetboro, North Carolina, at the end of the Civil War. Without giving away important details in the story, I offer the following summary. A young slave girl, Leah, is sexually attacked by her white, half-brother Alexander Mebane. She strikes his head with the hot iron that she has grasped off the kitchen stove. Believing that he is dead, she seeks advice from the stable-man, old slave Peter about how to escape. Days later she encounters Norman Pelham, a wounded Vermont soldier, lying in underbrush as the Civil War comes to a close. Sensing that he is a kind man, believing that she must atone for killing Mebane, she nurses him to health. They commit to each other and walked back to his family’s farm in Randolph, Vermont. They are married; they have three children. Leah is haunted by what she has left behind in North Carolina. Twenty-five years after the 1865 traumatic event, she goes back to Sweetboro to find answers to questions that have progressively daunted her. The second part of the novel focuses on Leah and Norman’s youngest child, Jamie. At the age on nineteen, in 1904, he leaves the family farm and finds work in Barre, Vermont, making deliveries of home-made whiskey for his criminal boss. He meets a young woman, Joey, a singer at a local, private night club. He befriends her and then rescues her after she has been beaten by the brother of city police chief. They flee to Bethlehem, New Hampshire, close to Mount Washington, a tourist town with grand hotels that cater to the rich and famous. Jamie becomes a hotel manager and eventually establishes a bootleg whiskey business. Joey pursues a higher level singing career. After a rocky relationship, they marry. They have two children. Tragedies follow. The third part of In the Fall is about part of the sixteenth year of Jamie and Joey’s older child, Foster Pelham. Living on his own, discovering a letter to his father from one of Norman Pelham’s daughters in Randolph, he goes to his deceased grandparents’ farm and learns from his two aunts the story of his grandparents’ meeting and what the aunts know about Leah’s return to Sweetboro twenty-five years afterward. Foster has not known anything about his grandparents. Intrigued, empathetic, Foster goes to Sweetboro. He discovers that Alexander Mebane is alive and is the source of the evil that has adversely affected his grandparents’ lives, his father’s life, and his own short life. This exchange between Leah and Norman illustrates Lent’s narrative skills: pointed dialogue, visual clarity, intimation of depth of character, attention to detail. She said, “I look at you, you know what I see? Norman?” “I got no idea.” “I see a man gentle right down in his soul. All the way down.” Then she was quiet and when she spoke again her voice had lost a little edge and he heard it right away, a little less certainty and he felt this loss in his chest like hot water. She said, “So me. You look at me what do you see? Norman?” His face furrowed like a spring field, wanting to get this just right. He had no idea what to say and kept looking at her hoping she’d wait for him, hoping she’d be patient. Hoping he’d find his way not out but through this. She didn’t wait. She said, “You see a little nigger girl wanting to eat up your biscuit, your bacon, whatever you got? You see me thinking my taking care of you once overnight is something I can trade for lots more than that? Or maybe even just nigger pussy ready for you to say the right words, do the right thing? That what you see, Norman? And she reared back away from him now, sitting still on the bench, upright as if at a great distance, her back arched like a drawn bow, eyes burning wide open as her soul welled up but not at all ready to pour out without something back from him. He watched his hands turning one over the other, the fingers lacing and relacing until he realized she was watching him do this. He slid around and lifted his right leg over the bench so he sat straddle-legged facing her front on. With his face collapsed in sheer terror, he said to her, “Leah. All I see is the most lovely girl I’ve ever seen.” She stood off the bench away from him and said, “I told you the truth, Norman. I told you the truth. But you lying to me if that’s all you see.” And without even thinking about it he said, “What I see in the most lovely girl and one fat wide world of trouble. Trouble for both of us. That’s what I see.” And now she stepped back over the bench to face him and said, “You got that right. You got that just exactly right.” He reached and took one of her hands and sat looking down at their hands lying one into the other, the small slip of warmth between his fingers, her life lying up against his, and still not looking at her he said, “Don’t you ever talk that way to me again Leah.” “What way?” Her voice low, already knowing, needing to ask, needing him to tell her. So he said, “That nigger-this nigger-that business.” Lent’s story exudes authenticity. Here is what Joey tells Jamie about her being an entertainer. “What that means is I wear outfits that make clear there’s a girl underneath and five or six times a night I stand up on Charlie’s little stage and sing. Songs like ‘If You Were a Kinder Fellow Than the Kind of Fellow You Are’ or ‘The Man Was a Stranger to Me’ … Between numbers I have to circulate, work up the crowd. Keep em buying drinks, let em buy me drinks – which is always nothing but cold tea. … Fellows tip you for a song, you flirt a little bit, they tip some more. And there’s some who’ll get a crush on a girl and bring presents to her, give her money that sort of thing. Charlie doesn’t allow his girls to hook but that doesn’t mean some of the girls some of the times don’t make arrangements to meet men outside of the club. … Now, the thing about that business is you have to pick and choose. Because what you want to do is keep the fellow coming around, both to the club and on the side. So you have to work them along, maybe giving a little but mostly putting the idea always in their heads like they’re getting far more than they are, or like they’re just about to. I was especially impressed that Lent delved into the human psyche regarding coming to terms with one’s aberrant behavior. Here are several examples. Norman: Telling himself no event lies or falls unconnected to others and that will is only the backbone needed to face these things head on. Leah: But it was cowards finally who believe they can lay down one life and pick up another and not have them meet again. … That no punishment could be greater than to find in herself that all the rest of her life, that new life, all that was made from a lie. Lying to herself. Jamie: He believed in luck. Not the ordinary luck that comes to all in runs of good or bad seemingly out of nowhere but luck searched out, sought in the corners and back rooms and cobwebbed recesses where no other might think to look. Luck, then earned someway. Jamie: We can’t ever learn a thing. We just keep doing the same things over and over. Not even intentional. Like we can’t help ourselves. Like it’s who we really are. That’s it – we spend our lives just becoming what we already someway know we are. Jamie: Mostly, …people are cruel, given the chance. Abigail (Jamie’s sister, to Foster): He hated himself, your father did. Hated what he was. Ran out of here and never would come back. Because he did not want to be what he was. The same way Mother thought she could leave her old life behind clean he did the same. But it does not work that way. Mebane: Every man is a curious thing – each one of us thinks we are nothing so much as our ownselves even as we fume about what had been done to us by others but we almost never see how we pass those wrongs along; we have our reasons for doing what we do and believe them not only to be right but the way things are, the way they have to be. Mebane: Evil is not a thing that just sums up in a man. No. It is a thread that begins to run in a small way and then falls down through the years and generations to gain weight as it goes. Mebane: It’s what we all do – we find a way to allow what we want but should not. Mebane: That is what regret does. It allows you to live with yourself. You know what they say – all men in prison are innocent? … it’s that they grow to understand themselves in such a way as to see that moment, the trigger that set them off in the first place, that got them to where they are, they see that as something separate from themselves. They come to believe, to know, that ever again their choice would be a different one. Not only in the past but in the future. Because they cannot allow the truth. In the Fall is well worth a reader’s time to read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ~mad

    I don't know what to say about this one. I could not take my nose out of it, wanting to get to the mystery at the end. A multi-generational saga set between the War of Southern Aggression and Prohibition. A couple of quotes to give you and idea: "The problem, Jamie had long felt, was not the people weren't capable of telling the truth; it was that they weren't able to understand what they were hearing. The truth was no a line from here to there, and not ever-widening circles like the rings on a sa I don't know what to say about this one. I could not take my nose out of it, wanting to get to the mystery at the end. A multi-generational saga set between the War of Southern Aggression and Prohibition. A couple of quotes to give you and idea: "The problem, Jamie had long felt, was not the people weren't capable of telling the truth; it was that they weren't able to understand what they were hearing. The truth was no a line from here to there, and not ever-widening circles like the rings on a sawn lag, but rather trails of oscillation overlapping liquid that poured forth but then assumed a shape and life of their own, that circle back around in spirals and fluctuations to touch and color all truths that came out after that one. So a thing was not one thing but many things. A fact many facts. He understood this perfectly and understood also that with the first words out of his mouth this understanding would collapse to a small mean thing, a target to be driven home toward. There was the sensation of being trapped, caught between who he was and what could be explained." Can you stand more? "Because what he had learned in the woods was that everything new is only a shift in what is already known. Some shift of the familiar. A new pattern, nothing more than that. The world was knowable. He knew that much He was fourteen......" Whoa.......

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Lush and lovely, In The Fall is an immersive, and deeply flawed take on Big American Themes of family, race, and identity. Lent's prose is long-winded and beautiful but will be pure agony for readers in search of brevity. The guy does his own thing syntax-wise, mixing three-word sentences with ones that go on for half a page, ignoring conventional grammar rules and relying a tad too much on philosophical similes. Still, the plot moves along briskly enough. The first third of the novel is incredi Lush and lovely, In The Fall is an immersive, and deeply flawed take on Big American Themes of family, race, and identity. Lent's prose is long-winded and beautiful but will be pure agony for readers in search of brevity. The guy does his own thing syntax-wise, mixing three-word sentences with ones that go on for half a page, ignoring conventional grammar rules and relying a tad too much on philosophical similes. Still, the plot moves along briskly enough. The first third of the novel is incredible. I would have read an entire novel about only Leah and Norman....in fact, I kind of wish I had. The novel's lyricism becomes strained towards the end, as Lent's characters are forced to make explicit and grandiose proclamations about subjects the novel is best at exploring implicitly through character and circumstance. Also, be aware that you're not going to find any good female characters in here. This is a novel about male legacy first and foremost, and there is a legit Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the third act. Overall, I'm glad I read it, but it's going to take some time to digest. Reading In the Fall was like eating a big, homemade meal: some of it was really good and some of was overcooked, but I finished it feeling full and satisfied.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    In many ways, this book reminds me of Anna Karenina. There are historical aspects, love interests, views on class and race and general thoughts on life and how different people live it. There is no easy and quick way to sum up a book like this. It is too multi-faceted. The book is written in three parts. It starts in the Civil War. A young man from Vermont is wounded, found by a runaway slave and falls in love. Then, we move on with one of his son's who is determined to get away from the Vermont In many ways, this book reminds me of Anna Karenina. There are historical aspects, love interests, views on class and race and general thoughts on life and how different people live it. There is no easy and quick way to sum up a book like this. It is too multi-faceted. The book is written in three parts. It starts in the Civil War. A young man from Vermont is wounded, found by a runaway slave and falls in love. Then, we move on with one of his son's who is determined to get away from the Vermont farm. The story is finished with the son's son, who is looking to lace up the pieces of his history. Well told. Slow moving. Interesting topics. Slightly disappointing (but not bad) ending.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    An ambitious novel on my reading list that was also recommended by Darlene & Ginalie. It's the story of 3 generations of a family beginning with a Vermont farmer/Civil War soldier who marries a runaway slave. It's a powerful story, though the account of the second-generation son who tries to leave his past behind by successfully "passing" in white society probably goes on too long. But the Graham-Greene-type ending that brings the book's themes together so powerfully almost makes up for it. Ther An ambitious novel on my reading list that was also recommended by Darlene & Ginalie. It's the story of 3 generations of a family beginning with a Vermont farmer/Civil War soldier who marries a runaway slave. It's a powerful story, though the account of the second-generation son who tries to leave his past behind by successfully "passing" in white society probably goes on too long. But the Graham-Greene-type ending that brings the book's themes together so powerfully almost makes up for it. There, a really evil man opens up the third-generation boy to the world & his own past.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This book moved me. I find these books that I read on days of slavery really are wonderful books. I think that we all need to read them and be reminded of the horrible experiences african americans faced. This story of a love affair between two people, one black, one white was intense. The trials, the love, are all the same that people face today. As the book unravels, the story takes us through three generations of the couple that started it all, Leah and Norman. The sadness that she felt, and This book moved me. I find these books that I read on days of slavery really are wonderful books. I think that we all need to read them and be reminded of the horrible experiences african americans faced. This story of a love affair between two people, one black, one white was intense. The trials, the love, are all the same that people face today. As the book unravels, the story takes us through three generations of the couple that started it all, Leah and Norman. The sadness that she felt, and the shame that ended her life, was very hard to fathom, but overall, I found this book very good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Alan Grapin

    Norman Pelham returns to the family farm in Vermont after serving the Union in the Civil War. He's brought with him Leah, the run away slave who nursed him back to health after he was wounded. She's now his bride and so begins a story that spans three generations and six decades of Americana. The author's prose are occasionally too ponderous and difficult for me to fathom but the story was engaging and worth the effort.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

    The descriptive phrases in this book draw you in. In some authors this wordiness is annoying. In this book it seems fitting and right. The pace of the book keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next. Great character development-lots of them you don't like as a person but find intriguing through their thoughts and actions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pablo

    Had this book given to me by someone who was cleaning house prior to moving, otherwise I would probably never have known about it. What a delight! An epic story covering 3 generations. Writing style reminiscent of Faulkner and McCarthy. Very enjoyable. I'll seek more from this author.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A generational saga with deep, beautiful writing and rich, developed characters. Definitely not a book you can rush through. The negatives? There were parts of the book that droned on and were hard to get through. And the ending was very abrupt and disappointing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Ferrell

    At times this was really enjoyable, with beautiful prose that seemed to advance the action and add to it. Other times, it felt like Jeffery Lent was very much in love with what he had to say and how to say it, whether or not is really needed to be said.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roxy

    It's hard to believe this is Lent's first novel. It is so rich in character, action, and landscape, beautifully told. He delves deep into the consciousness of people and puzzles over their intentions and rationalizations, and how truly fouled up we all are.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Set in the aftermath of the US Civil War - a beautiful, engrossing novel about the psychological complexities of racism = both internal and external. A great family saga.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    Very interesting and different book. Difficult to read, at times. I would like to see what others say about the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    Norman, a Union soldier during the Civil War, is injured at the end of the war and left on the battlefield. A young African-American woman, Leah, finds him and cares for him until he is able to make his way north to his home. They come in contact again along the way and she shares some of her history. Along the way to his family farm in Vermont they marry. The local people do not welcome Leah but they are not awful to her because she is a hard worker, adds a successful egg business to the sheep Norman, a Union soldier during the Civil War, is injured at the end of the war and left on the battlefield. A young African-American woman, Leah, finds him and cares for him until he is able to make his way north to his home. They come in contact again along the way and she shares some of her history. Along the way to his family farm in Vermont they marry. The local people do not welcome Leah but they are not awful to her because she is a hard worker, adds a successful egg business to the sheep farm, and keeps to the farm. After several years Norman and Leah are finally successful in having a family. The story then follows the youngest of their three children, a son, Jamie. Jamie is so light skinned that he abandons the family and farm to make his way as a white man. He lives in a resort community and earns a living by selling bootleg liquor. He marries a singer and they have one son, Foster. After the deaths of his parents, Foster stumbles upon some letters from his father's family. He seeks them out and is stunned by what he finds. He begins to piece together his father's past and learn about his grandparents. In order to find out what led to his grandmother's death, he travels south to the place she left after the war. He encounters many unsettling surprises while delving into her past. I was a little put off by the author's writing style. For example, he always used "set" instead of "sat" or "sit". It was a slow moving story. There is little dialog and some paragraphs are a page and a half long. I found this passage in chapter seven worthy of note. "' What you sound like is my dad. He had this theory that almost everything people do is not what they want but what they think the world wants them to do. He'd wonder what sort of world it would be, after things got sorted out, if everybody just started doing what they really wanted. And he would grin and say it would be paradise for those that survived the blood of it getting sorted out.'"

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