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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Fall, a rarity
This is a beautiful, lovely book as heartbreakingly sad as anything I've ever read. There's four or five places in Lent's narrative that just cut you off at the knees emotionally. I'd just have to put the book down a while because I was so affected with the beauty and melancholy of his story. Generational sagas tend to spread a lot of characters too thin over a...
Published on April 13, 2000

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been a great book, but wasn't.
Jeffrey Lent has the outline of a masterpiece, with well thought out characters and a compelling story line that addresses slavery, sex and family conflict. But I found to story to drag in many places with overly long descriptions of seemingly trivial elements. Lent gives little help in seeing what is going on inside the character's heads, but gives endless descriptions...
Published on January 31, 2007 by Jane Carlozzi


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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Fall, a rarity, April 13, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
This is a beautiful, lovely book as heartbreakingly sad as anything I've ever read. There's four or five places in Lent's narrative that just cut you off at the knees emotionally. I'd just have to put the book down a while because I was so affected with the beauty and melancholy of his story. Generational sagas tend to spread a lot of characters too thin over a natural episodic repetitiveness. Lent never allows that to happen here. Each character is presented in their own unique way, their stories sometimes dovetailing, but as time passes back and again, their true natures are ever more revealed, often tragically. I thought them all wonderful. I'd intended to take my time reading "Fall" but around page 180-90 the whole thing, perfectly terrific to that point, picked up an undeniable narrative steam, one of those I-cannot-&-will-not put this bloody thing down till I find out what happens kind of things. What a ride. In the end this is one of those books you love to tell friends about, knowing that if they only like it half as much as you do, they'll love it.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and elegant, April 17, 2000
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
"In the Fall" is a first novel written by someone who was born to write. The story has such depth and the characters so fully drawn that reading the book is a pleasure that rewards.
Set in Vermont between the Civil War and the Depression, "In the Fall" begins with Norman Pelham returning from the Civil War with his new wife, Leah, a former slave, whom he met when he was wounded and Leah was on the run from the plantation. It would seem that Leah has escaped the South and the legacy of slavery in her New England home, but that is far from the truth. The past ricochets through the following generations, leaving a young grandson to look for the truth.
The Pelhams, with their strong, unconventional relationships, stubborness, and fits of violence, are an interesting bunch. "In the Fall" is an unusual and compelling debut.
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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is What 5 Stars Are For!, April 18, 2000
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
Well before I finished this book, I was thinking about the reviews I had previously written. I tried to recall those that I thought merited 5 stars. By the time I finished, "In The Fall", I decided a five star rating is something that should be rather scarce.
Book Jackets generally suffer from severe cases of superlative laced hyperbole. If all endorsements were accurate you could walk blindfolded into your favorite purveyor of books, lay your hand on the first tome to be touched, and a Pulitzer, Booker, Nobel, or a Whitbread would be in you hand! However, it is far more likely you would dredge up a tell-all book on Harry Potter's Carbohydrate Addiction with a free coupon good toward any exploitive bestseller, think Boulder Colorado, there are two on the bestseller list as I write.
But in this scenario the odds are beaten, no 250-page novel/screenplay, rather a 542-page piece of magic that booklovers live for. "In The Fall" is with you whether you are reading, or away from it. Mr. Lent creates characters so vivid, a story that reveals itself without affectation, pretense, or literary sleight of hand, that this book crosses that point in the reader's mind from a book, to an experience that not only immerses you while being read, but crosses from just a piece of fiction you read, to a set of acquaintances that stay with you. The "fictional" conversations and events, the characters so vividly rendered, you know not only would you recognize them on the street, but wouldn't be surprised if you did. This is a story you think about as happening, rather than just a book. The degree to which you enter this world is a rare event, a special experience.
The Writer I thought of when enjoying this work was John Steinbeck. The same way "The Grapes Of Wrath" stays with you years after it was read, or "East Of Eden" or "Cannery Row" lingers, this does the same. This is a story you will remember in detail, these are characters names you will always recall, this caliber of book is why I read. "In The Fall" is the first book I have read in years that I believe will be a true classic in time. "Instant Classic" is a moronic contradiction in terms. A classic has to age, to endure, to continue to be relevant, this work has all the necessary credentials, and in abundance.
This is Mr. Lent's first book, but it will stand side by side with Writers who have worked their craft for careers. I say this not to denigrate anyone's work, rather to express what an achievement this book is. For those who create the short lists for literary honors this one should be a foregone conclusion. And as for being an award winner, I think that conclusion is as safe a bet as one can make.
An incredible book whether the first, tenth, or last. Mr. Lent stay healthy and write!
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning literature, March 29, 2000
By 
Bob Yarbrough (Jackson, Mississippi) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
In the Fall is a remarkable first novel, inahbitated by fully-developed characters living in a complex and evolving world. But it really is a simple book, too. And therein lies its beauty. Jeffrey Lent's ability to create these complex characters -- much like John Irving without the humor -- and move them from just after the Civil War up through the early 20th century exhibits a singular talent. He takes us through the extraoridnary events of their otherwise ordinary lives. And we feel as if we're there in New England, and there in the South with them. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, yet I turned the pages as quickly as if I was reading "The Bourne Identity." Lent's writing soars in the middle third of the book, and In the Fall has some of a first novelist's ending problems, but the writing is throughoughly enjoyable. I imagine that In the Fall will inevitably be compared with Cold Mountain. Both first novels, both feature the Civil War and its affect on our nation, both wonderful works of literature. Yet In the Fall truly stands on its own as a distinct work of art.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Fall, April 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
In the Fall is a tragic story of how society forces its values on us and how we continue to "fall" beneath its weight rather than rise above it. The Pelham family foundation was cracked from the beginning, not because of Norman, who ends up marrying an ex-slave, but because love and intimacy were not openly displayed in the Pelham home although it was experienced in small, everyday ways. Norman finds his own way of expressing his love, not by his words but by his actions. He passes this on to his children, without even realizing that he has left them a legacy to express themselves physically but very seldom, verbally. This thread of expression is woven through all three of the generations represented in this novel. I hope this novel does well; I hope it climbs onto the Best Seller's List because in many ways, this book is about America-its sins, its fears, its history and its family structure. Until we learn to confront and face our past, our future will always be in question and for some, in jeopardy. Jeffrey Lent takes on a subject during a period of time that is still not talked about openly enough among those of us who call ourselves "well educated and well read". The language is descriptive, vivid and engaging. It sucks the reader in and makes her feel a part of the experience, not as an observer but as a participant. Read this novel and by all means, pass it on.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome First Novel, April 24, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
Jim Harrison says of IN THE FALL, "I cannot recommend it highly enough." That caught my attention. I consider DALVA and THE ROAD HOME two of the finest novels of their kind I have ever read. I started IN THE FALL with high expectations. The reviews I read were all glowing in their praise of the book. I was not disappointed. In fact I was pleasantly surprised. In an era when books seem to be written in a hurry to get them to the publisher, this novel takes its time expressing itself. I wasn't surprised to read that Lent writes in his barn. His unhurried pace and meticulous plotting are a joy to read. I found myself fully involved in the reality he created, the highest praise I can offer a writer. I cannot imagine reading another novel this year that moves me the way this one did. In fact I'm having a hard time getting started on other books. Do yourself a favor and buy this novel. Read it slowly, if you can.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ..not about being wrong as about getting it right!!!, August 31, 2000
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
In the Fall is a remarkable novel. It tells a story of a family, through three generations. It is an unwrapping of a family history and the secrets there in. The beginning is during the civil war, when a wounded soldier from New Hampshire is helped by a young girl, an escaped slave from North Carolina. They travel to New Hampshire and on the way fall in love and marry. The people of this novel are so well crafted that you feel you almost know them and yet there always parts that are hidden away. In one scene in the novel, someone says "A man is the sum of his parts." Foster answers,"Maybe,.. I don't know. Seems to me though, the last one who could do that sum would be the one involved." He is told,"...everyman is at least two men. One of them known only to himself." That is how the characters evolve, there seem to be real dimensions that you catch only a glimmer of and other facets that are laid wide open. The story is strong and provocative, and thoroughly captures the reader. The generations are woven gently and not so gently through out each other, creating a wondrous and stunningly intelligent work. The fabulous part is that you really think that you know what is coming next and then it doesn't. A casual yet brilliant conversation in this novel says everything about the author. Someone says,"...You know exactly what [the words] are. You just don't want to say them for fear you'd be wrong." Foster answers,"I'm not sure it's worry about being wrong so much as wanting to get things right." Well Mr. Lent, you got it right, very right!!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book took me by suprise, June 7, 2000
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
When I read the dust jacket I was intrigued; it's not often that an inter-racial romance involves a black woman and a white man and I wondered how the author was going to address the complexities of such an relationship which is difficult enough in these times. Then I looked at the author's picture and I thought, "wait a minute." It's not that I believe white men should not write about people of color. It's not my place to tell an author what they can or cannot write. But too often I have been offended or worse, disappointed with what I read. Too often the author falls into the easy cliches. A black woman is either a brava mamma or a hot mamma. The ugly secret of slavery has always been the sexual exploitation of black women (ask Thomas Jefferson). Because this country is unable or unwilling to come to terms with the terrible history of race, we live with the legacy of that ugly secret every day.
The author of this book faced this issue with more courage, sensitivity and humanity than I could ever have believed possible. It will be a long time before I forget the story of Norman and Leah, one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking relationships I have encountered in years.
Unlike the majority of people, I was very disappointed with Cold Mountain and my expectations for that book had been high. I didn't expect a lot from In the Fall, but I received so very much.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous Saga, April 18, 2000
By 
Margaret Pauley (Beaver, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
Things I love in a work of fiction: Characters, whom I can picture in my mind, and grow to care for. A sense of place--enough description that I know where these characters are living. Human problems, faced in human ways, and solved in a realistic way, not always with the proverbial "happy ending". In the Fall has everything, including almost poetic sense of language. As a Bookseller, I have daily opportunities to recommend books. This is No. 1 on my list!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly crafted novel., June 6, 2000
This review is from: In the Fall (Hardcover)
In The Fall is a superbly crafted novel that presents a remarkable portrait of an American family through three generations. Beginnings at the twilight of the Civil War, Norman Pelham is a Union soldier that, wounded and near death, is discovered by Leah, a run-a-way slave. After Leah nurses Norman back to health they return together to Norman's family farm in Vermont as husband and wife, where they begin a family. As their children begin to approach adulthood, Leah finds herself compelled to return to the South to confront the demons she left behind many years before. Leah's journey will change her family's lives forever. Leah's secrets come to life with their grandson Foster is driven to retrace his family history. Dark secrets blister at the core of the Pelham family, transcendent bonds between men and women fuel their lives over the course of three generations and sixty years. The cost of confronting the past is as severe as the cost of fleeing from it. In The Fall is Jeffrey Lant splendid debut as an author of considerable stature, and will leave legions of enthusiastic readers looking eagerly toward his next book!
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In the Fall: A Novel
In the Fall: A Novel by Jeffrey Lent (Paperback - July 10, 2001)
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