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

3.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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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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: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,182,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By 54 on December 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read reviews that compared this to the Oultlander series. Although set in Puritain England, it does have a fiesty heroine falling for a very unenlighted man. The writing is pedestrian and the plot obvious. Read her first novel "Storming Heaven" to see what she can really do.
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Format: Paperback
I did not purchase this book. I found it on a table at the library with other books about Time Travel. I grabbed this one up on a whim because it sounded good. I'm glad I checked it out to read. It was hard to put down. I like a good time travel book. I have never heard of Denise Giardina before and just now I finished reading Fallam's Secret and am sad to learn there isn't a second book to pick up where this one left off. I want more! What has happened to Noah and Lydde? Do they make it to Virginia? What did Uncle John discover when he came through the Mystery Hole with Bounder for the last time? Does he find another worm hole and find Lydde? Don't leave me hanging! I don't want to use my imagination to determine what happened. I want Denise Giardina to write another book to continue on with the story... pleaaaaase! Double darn that there isn't a part two but I still enjoyed this book. I'm glad I read it.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book from the free shelf at our local library. The only reason I snagged it was because it mentioned time travel. So I was incredibly surprised to discover a novel of beauty, sorrow and depth that reminded me of a mix between the Time Traveler's Wife and Robin Hood. This is not a romance. It is a drama about a woman who lives an empty life as an actress, then gets a 2nd chance to live those years again, in a different century. There is a lot of fun time travel bits with her and her uncle crossing into 1657, and then people from that era crossing into the modern world. And there is always the underlying question in the book of if it really is the past, or if it is just an alternate world, since many people from our current world appear in the 1657 world. But regardless of what time or world she lives in, Lydde struggles with the same issues of Faith, of gender roles, and of Love. I thought the issue of personal faith was addressed beautifully in several areas of the story. And the ending, the last few paragraphs alone, was fabulous! You are left wondering who the skeleton in the cave really is - what metal did the uncle find? Was it Lydde's ring? Was it the lighter? And if it was Lydde's ring, does that mean that she died and Noah wore her ring on the chain with his cross? Or was the ring on the skeleton's finger, and that means Lydde wore Noah's neckace? I loved the open ending, although I hated it as well!
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