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The Long Falling Hardcover – April 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sin and salvation are the two themes of Keith Ridgway's wonderful first novel, The Long Falling. But as in life and great art, the definitions of these terms are neither simple nor clear. Grace Quinn is an abused wife whose husband's drinking has led to a car accident and the death of a young woman. As a result, they are shunned in their small rural Irish village. After her spouse's death in what most likely was a retaliatory hit-and-run accident, Grace moves to Dublin to be with Martin, her gay son who left home and his abusive father years before. In this new setting, Grace and Martin begin to form a new relationship--until secrets from the past threaten to destroy their lives. Ridgway knows how to tell a story, but the strength of the novel is in its insightful and compelling emotional details. Succinct, poetic, and emotionally shattering, The Long Falling is not simply a fine debut, but the beginning of an illustrious career.

From Library Journal

In this debut, an Englishwoman living in Ireland finds herself an outsider even in her own family.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; First Edition edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395905303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395905302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,183,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles Leddy on January 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A debut novel of almost miraculous courage and brilliant lyricism. Ridgway is fearless in his exploration of the human heart; he beautifully explores the pain inherent in love and loss. This prose will haunt you. One can only hope that Keith Ridgway's career is just beginning -- he has the writer's gift of language, and a heart that's open and unafraid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written novel with depressing subject matter. Each chapter is written in third person and is written from the point of view of one of four characters: Grace, Martin, Sean, and Mrs. Talbot. Most of the chapters are from either Grace's (the mother) or Martin's (the son) point of view. The technique increased my interest in the book. The author is able to come up with an abundance of pertinent details for every scene. As a gay man, I thought Ridgway portrayed the gay characters and settings in a realistic, unsensational way. The book reminds me of the type of novel that William Trevor might write. Not as good as William Trevor, but few authors are that good. There's probably a lot more to the book than what I've grasped in one reading. If the book gets great reviews, I'll read it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
To my mind, this is great writing. You can turn to virtually any page and find a sentence that will knock your socks off. "The warmth of the place became brazen," or "She wondered if the farm still stood - the line of trees like broccoli that cut the sunset in two. . . . She had not thought of it before. Now she knew that places were not constant. They were the inventions of minds that stayed still for a moment. They were a gathering of walls and shelters, and certain odours in the air, that served to divide and define and keep a person real."
The story is of a woman who has intentionally run down her abusive husband on a road and killed him. She is trying to make a way to find a new life, but "she had not thought it through." She goes to live with her gay son, Martin, "to make out of the space at his side a place of her own." But that, of course, is not possible. Not only because she has killed his father, but also because the space at his side is filled wi! th Henry, who is soon returning from Europe.
When he learns what she has done, Martin cannot abide her. He throws her out. Yet he is the only one in the book who feels no sympathy for her. Even the policeman on the case warns her to go away. Martin's friends, even Henry, want him to feel some compassion for his mother, but he won't. In fact, when he finds where she has gone, he calls the police.
Relaying the plot this way does not do it justice. It's really the way the story is told that makes the book. The descriptions, the reactions of the characters, and the interior reactions they have are really more important than the plot. It's a book about the spaces between people, not about a murder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alan Scheer on May 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an astonishingly beautiful novel. Anyone who has thought about their relationship with their mother..the love and the anger will undoubtly be moved by this very powerful story. The insight of character thoughts are remarkable. It is a very sad book that deserves enormous attention. Someone tell Oprah..this should be on her book club list..it is the best novel I have read in years. I'm telling all my friends..I love every page of this novel and know I will read it over and over again through the years. If you love a great story, well written and written from the heart..this book is for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jon Miller-Carrasco on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This author told this spooky and sad story well. The problems I had were: A few times I felt his prose turned a little purple, especially with some of the internal ramblings of Grace; I wondered about Henry's motives in how he related to Martin at the end of the story; and I stumbled over Martin's reaction to the news that his mother killed his father. I didn't find enough background, or motive, or psychological basis for his extreme behavior. But the main character, Grace, was well-wrought enough to carry the story as a whole, and it is clear that Mr. Ridgway is a perceptive and sensitive writer. I will definitely keep my eye out for his next work.
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Format: Hardcover
Death, murder, and isolation. Keith Ridgway weaves all three dark themes throughout "The Long Falling" and yet the novel, the author's first, is often insightful and poetic.
Grace Quinn both loses an infant child to drowning and is verbally and physical abused by an older, belligerent Irish husband. From these troubling circumstances, Grace Quinn commits a a desperate act and flees seeking refuge at the home of her gay son, Martin. (Though she tells him nothing of whats happened) Ridgway writes in the third person, telling the story from the perspective of Grace, Martin, Sean, (Martin's friend), and Mrs. Talbot, an innkeeper Grace befriends.
By moving from one character's perspective to the next, the author develops a sense of intimacy between mother and son. Grace reaches out to her only adult son at a moment of desperation. Martin welcomes her but wonders at the same time what exactly she's doing. The novel's pacing, changing perspectives, succeeds in moving the reader through Grace's troubled journey.
Ridgeway descriptions are poetic. Shorter sentences are often filled with strong images. He writes capturing moods, not merely stating everything in the scene. In describing a love scene between Martin and his lover Henry, he doesn't sensationalize. "He wanted to stand on the bed over Henry's body and execute a dive of some kind that would take him beneath the skin, into the dark warmth were he could not escape."
Utilizing the true story of a teenage girl denied an abortion as a backdrop, Ridgeway solidifies the narrative line of the story. Sean, Martin's friend, is a reporter covering the story of X-an unnamed girl who is not allowed to leave the country for an abortion. The craziness of the X story unfolds while Grace franticly decides her next move.
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