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Fallam's Secret: A Novel Hardcover – March, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393052060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393052060
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,274,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Giardina (Storming Heaven) constructs an intriguing time-travel narrative steeped in the history of West Virginia. After her family died in a fire in 1948, two-year-old Lydde Falcone was taken in by her Uncle John and Aunt Lavinia and grew up with them in West Virginia. Now a middle-aged actress living in Norchester, England, Lydde returns to West Virginia to take care of her aunt after John's death. There, she learns that John, a physicist, believed he had discovered a hole in the time/space continuum. She follows his map to some caves near her aunt's house, pokes around and suddenly finds herself back in England-England of 1657, that is, where she finds her uncle alive and well. Passing as a man thanks to her outlandish clothes and forward manner, Lydde attracts the suspicion of Noah Fallam, a local Puritan official who upholds Oliver Cromwell's ban on music and art and turns out to be an ancestor of hers (his brother becomes one of the first Englishmen to come to Appalachia in 1671). She also falls for the Raven, a sort of Robin Hood who steals from rich Puritans to give to the poor. Lydde's rapid adjustment to her 17th-century surroundings is hard to swallow, as is her instant love for the Raven. Yet Giardina is an accomplished storyteller, and the narrative is rich in detail. The despoliation of West Virginia's mountains by mining companies, a familiar theme of Giardina's, adds complexity to the plot. While this book doesn't carry the literary weight of some of her previous work, it's a captivating read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Lydde Falcone, an actress on the London stage, returns home to West Virginia when her beloved uncle dies. In his office she finds an odd key and directions about a door, a skeleton, and a cliff. She eventually follows the key's instructions and finds herself in seventeenth-century England during Cromwell's rule. Due to her strange clothes, short hair, and outspoken manner, she passes herself off as a boy. She is stunned when she enters a small village and finds her uncle alive. She also meets two other men--Noah Fallam, the local official enforcing the strict Puritan teachings and who is suspicious of Lydde's arrival, and a man she falls in love with known only as the Raven, a masked crusader who steals and smuggles to provide for the poor. Lydde must make a choice to go back to her previous life or risk everything for love. Giardina tells a good story, but there are some underlying themes, regarding faith, a women's place in society, and environmental responsibility, that are never fully developed. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I like a good time travel book.
T. Wattman
The writing is pedestrian and the plot obvious.
gael
I stumbled onto this book quite by accident.
D. Justice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Then I started reading this book, I was sceptical. Can this author really write a good time travel? Yes she can, this book is wonderful and it has the right combination of history, adventure, time travel and of course romance and the ending promises (hopefully!) that there might be another book!! This book goes directly to my keeper shelf! Thanks to the author for this terrific reading experience!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Giardina is a favorite author, having written on a number of fascinating topics in her novels. Fallam's Secret takes a different approach, one that involves wormholes and time travel with a new twist, given recent scientific advances.
When Carlo Falcone comes to West Virginia in 1918, he is poverty-stricken. After WWII he returns to West Virginia, purchases a plot of land on Fallam Mountain, where he builds his family home in the style of his beloved Italian countryside. One Christmas Eve, a tragic fire destroys their home, killing Carlo's wife and five of their children; only Carlo and the baby, Lydde, survive. The mother's body is found in the ashes, but the other bodies are never discovered and there is no reasonable answer to the absence of the children's bones. Consequently, Carlo spends the rest of his life searching for his children, leaving Lydde to be raised by her aunt and uncle.
Lydde grows, attends school and graduates from college, where she develops a lifelong love of Shakespearean Theater. Lydde is an actor, living in London, until she reaches a certain age, at which time she takes a position as a teacher. Her Uncle John begs Lydde to return home, hinting of an important discovery there, but unwilling to divulge the details prematurely. Unfortunately, she doesn't come home until her uncle's funeral.
Lydde searches through John's personal papers until she finds a key and specific directions for passing through an opening in a cave John stumbled across years earlier. Following the very specific directions, Lydde falls through time like Alice down the rabbit hole, turning up in a village in 1657 England, where she meets her Uncle John, alive. Surprisingly, both are younger, Lydde in her early twenties.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Waggoner on January 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am usually a big fan of Denise Giardina..."Storming Heaven", "The Unquiet Earth", and "Saints and Villians" are all among my favorite books. Fallam's Secret appears to be a quickly slapped together story without much of an ending (she appears to be leaving the door open for sequels). Denise also tries to weave in her usual "isms" into the story - Environmentalism, Socialism, Feminism, but their role in the plot is uneven and often forced. For example, as a native West Virginia, I am not a big fan of surface/strip mining...but the inclusion of it in the book did nothing to further the plot or to explore the issue.
Worst of all, her character development is way off this book. Denise's strength in writing has always been great characters: believable, well defined and explored. At the end of the Fallam's Secret, I found myself not caring at all what happened to the characters (and definitely not craving a sequel).
I can't recommend this book (unless perhaps you wait for the paperback and read it at the beach).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. M. McDowell on April 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wow! I didn't even mean to find this in our local bookstore. There was one copy in the way back and it had me interested by the cover. Its wonderfully written with action, adventure, and love. I love how you find out about the main characters life and how she became the way she is before she starts out on her adventure. It also shows that just because you are a 50+ woman, doesn't mean you forget about how powerful love can be. I thought it was slow at first but it really picked up. If you are in the mood for witty and action packed (at least 2/3 packed) book, this one is for you. My review might not be as great as the others here, but I really enjoyed this book, take a chance and i hope you do too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Justice on July 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled onto this book quite by accident. Boy am I glad I did! What an excellent book! Good plot, story line, believable characters and an interesting fleshing out of theories involving time/space continuum! The story line ended in such a way that a sequel is a possibility! Being that it was published in 2003, maybe there's still hope for a follow up; she can't leave it with the skeleton still in the cave!!! I just can't imagine them getting so close and then failing. On the edge of your seat page turner! ENJOY
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I liked Ms. Giardina's story. Set in south-central West Virginia, Ms. Giardina weave the history of the area with the local roadside tourist attractions and creates an entertaining story. Lyddie, with her obscure beginnings, returns home when her beloved uncle (and guardian) dies. While going through his belongings, she finds a key to a red door, located in a local tourist attraction. As she explores the underground cavern, and yes, is transported in time to 17th century England, she unlocks the secrets of her family and her passions.
Appalachia has a mysticism that appeals to many people. Fallam's Secret tells a story that contains the mysticism, the grit, and the integrity of an isolated group of people.
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