FALL ON YOUR KNEES is the story of James Piper, who was orphaned as a teenager, and became a self-taught piano tuner. He was good at his job and was reasonably prosperous. Then James met Materia Mahmoud. Materia was thirteen and the apple of her father’s eye. Unfortunately for Materia, and generations unborn, she caught James Piper’s eye, and he caught her’s as well. Despite her father’s strenuous objections (indeed she was stricken from the family rolls) they married and moved to a small village nearby.
James was a good man, but slowly and surely, the dark side of his nature asserted itself. He avoided temptation for a time in consequence of his service in France during the Great War, but the war comes to an end. James returned to Materia and his three daughters: Kathleen, Francis, and Mercedes. Kathleen is the talented and pretty one and Mercedes is the good daughter, while Francis is a rebel in search of a cause.
Kathleen is dispatched to New York City to study opera. Unfortunately she becomes, in the words of an anonymous telegram, “ensnared in a net of godless music and immorality.” James Piper brings his daughter home and finally succumbs to a lurking, albeit forbidden, passion. Soon James is a widower, his daughter is dead and he must deal with an unexpected grandchild. Mercedes does her best, but Francis goes completely off the rails and things go from bad to worse.
Ann-Marie MacDonald has not written a horrid book about horrible people. It is a well-written work about horrible things that happen to several people—some of whom are truly horrid. At times it is a trifle obscure, but explanations are eventually forthcoming and the reader is not left to wonder for long. This is not a work for the faint-hearted.