The Fall of Light

by Niall Williams

Paper Book, 2009

Call number

FIC WIL

Collection

Publication

Grand Central Publishing (2009), Edition: 1, 328 pages

Description

Beginning in Ireland in the early years of the 19th century, the four Foley brothers flee across the country with their father and the large telescope he has stolen. Soon forced apart by the violence of the Irish wilderness, the potato famine, and the promise of America, the brothers find themselves scattered across the world. Their separate adventures unfold in passionate and vivid scenes with gypsies, horse races, sea voyages, and beautiful women. An epic narrative on the meaning of love and home and family, The Fall of Light is a dazzling novel by one of the most promising novelists writing today.

User reviews

LibraryThing member maryreinert
Although I admit it took me just a bit of time to get used to the author's style of sometimes convoluted sentence structure, I could hardly put this story down.

After a fight with this wife, Francis Foley steals a telescope and leaves his Irish home with his four sons. The four sons are then
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scattered after they think their father has drowned while attempting to cross the Shannon River. The story of each son is remarkable in that each finds himself following a separate road yet never forgetting the others in the family. The father's search for the boys seems to provide a sense of magnetism which draws them all to seek each other.

Each son has a different story and all are followed to one extent or another throughout the book. Although the story of Teige, the youngest son, takes most of the story, the life of Finbar who follows the gypsies is especially well told. The author takes the reader from Ireland across Europe and across the Atlantic to the wide west of America. The potato famine, immigration to America, and the exploration of the West all provide backgrounds for the telling of the Foley boys' stories.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but think of my own ancestors as they traveled from Europe, some to the US and some to New Zealand. Although not Irish, I'm sure each family member left home with his or her own set of troubles and hopes. sometimes conscious decisions were made and other times they were just swept along by circumstances. The road has not been straight as so well described by the Foley family. Highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever wondered about how their own family has fit into the history of the time.
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LibraryThing member bodachliath
A sprawling epic family story, this is an ambitious microcosm of the experiences of the rural Irish and their diaspora in the mid nineteenth century. Parts of the book deal unflinchingly with the horrors and iniquities of the potato famine, but Williams is too much of a romantic to allow this to
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dominate.

Much of the story is more folk tale than plausible narrative, and to some extent this feels like an exploration into the evolution and exaggerations of family stories. As in all of Williams' work, much of the writing is lyrical and poetic, even if the story's many digressions can be exasperating and the characters seem to contribute much to their own misfortunes.
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LibraryThing member bodachliath
A sprawling epic family story, this is an ambitious microcosm of the experiences of the rural Irish and their diaspora in the mid nineteenth century. Parts of the book deal unflinchingly with the horrors and iniquities of the potato famine, but Williams is too much of a romantic to allow this to
Show More
dominate.

Much of the story is more folk tale than plausible narrative, and to some extent this feels like an exploration into the evolution and exaggerations of family stories. As in all of Williams' work, much of the writing is lyrical and poetic, even if the story's many digressions can be exasperating and the characters seem to contribute much to their own misfortunes.
Show Less
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