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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Fall From Grace is a series of narratives told from six different points of view, another feature which earned it criticism from reviewers, who found the narratives disjointed and confusing. The story often weaves between past and present, detailing the current status between Kathleen and Brien, then moving to flashbacks of Kathleen's early relationship with Kieran. Often a brutal sexual scene between Kathleen and Brien is followed by a tender adolescent memory of the respect and concern and affection which obviously existed in the childhood relationship between Kathleen and Kieran. While such techniques can sometimes be confusing to a reader, the switches in narration and the obvious switches in theme and tone serve to illustrate the vast differences in the treatment of one woman by two different men. The contrasts between Brendan's narratives and those of James serve to portray two very different clerics and to illustrate the theme that the Church cannot always be judged by its leaders. While the majority of the narratives are from Kathleen's and Kieran's points of view and detail the rekindling of their adolescent love, italicized interior monologues give the reader a glimpse into the mind of Brien as he ponders his relationship with both Kathleen and his male lover. Other narratives come from Bishop James Leary and Fr. Brendan McNulty, who convey the plot of the pedophile crisis. Letters from Kathleen's father comprise yet another set of narratives which help to illuminate Kieran's past and why he disappeared from Kathleen's life for twenty years.

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Fall From Grace is perhaps Andrew Greeley's most overt novel of social concern. It grew out of two years of reading about, reflecting upon and writing newspaper columns concerning the topics of battered women and pedophilia. The novel also touches upon the social concerns of homosexuality and satanic cults which ritualistically abuse children. While generally given favorable reviews, Fall From Grace was faulted by some for what was seen as a degeneration into melodrama, perhaps the result of Greeley's attempt to use fiction to dramatize social concerns documented by what he knew to be important primary sources which the general public might never read. The novel is dedicated to the man who delved into the psychology of pedophilia; Greeley's effort is an attempt to dramatize that research for a wider reading audience.

The primary plot of Fall From Grace concerns the story of Kathleen Leary Donahue. Brutalized by her husband, who is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate, Kathleen is seen by her family and many of her friends as the troublemaker in the marriage. Afraid to seek a divorce or even counseling for her problems because she is apprehensive that the publicity might ruin her husband's political career and unleash more of his fury upon her, Kathleen tries to quietly cope with the alcoholic and abusive Brien until she receives a threatening phone call from his homosexual lover one day.

The secondary plot of the...

(The entire section is 1,237 words.)