Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Falls - Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls - Joyce Carol Oates

7 Ratings: 2.7
a novel by Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls is a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, originally published in 2004 by the Ecco Press, and winner of the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger. It tells the story of Ariah, a woman whose husband threw himself over Niagara Falls. The rest of the book is the story … see full wiki

Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Date Published: June 10, 2008
1 review about The Falls - Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Jul 27, 2009
This is the third book by Oates I’ve read. Although I don’t believe she can write a bad book, for me “The Falls” was not as powerful as “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” or “We were the Mulvaneys.” It’s the story of Ariah Littrell, the musically gifted but awkward daughter of a preacher from Troy, New York. She marries Gilbert Erskine, seminary student and son of another local preacher. After a disastrous honeymoon night in Niagara Falls (not unlike the one related in Ian McEwan’s “On Chesil Beach”), her husband of less than a day, goes out early in the morning and throws himself into the Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island suspension bridge. It is intimated that part of the problem may be that Gilbert is gay (based on references to his attachment to a fellow seminary student named Douglas or “D”). Bewildered and grief stricken, Ariah compulsively follows the search for Gilbert’s body, and during this time, a local lawyer named Dirk Burnaby watches over Ariah and finds himself inexplicably attracted to her. Soon after she returns to her hometown of Troy, Dirk pays her a visit and, with flowers picked from the side of the road and a couple bottles of champagne, he proposes to her and she accepts. The book next depicts their early family life and the arrival of three children – Chandler, Royall, and Juliet. Chandler is born after less than a year and it is always unclear whose son he is – although he would be unlikely to be Gilbert’s based on the description of the honeymoon night encounter. Dirk is pursued by a woman (Nina Olshaker) from the “Colvin Heights” subdivision of east Niagara Falls where black oozing sludge and foul odors are associated with chronic illnesses and various types of cancer among the residents and their children. She convinces him to bring a lawsuit against the city and “Swann Chemicals.” Thus, in 1962, Dirk becomes involved in what ultimately would become the Love Canal case – the infamous real-life environmental contamination of the area by 20,000 tons of dumped toxic waste with a school constructed on the site. In the novel, Dirk’s case is dismissed. He loses his temper in court and punches the court baliff. Not long after, he’s run off the road and into the Niagara River by a mysterious truck and police cruiser. Much of the novel details Ariah raising her children as a widow and refusing to talk about Dirk. She had thrown him out of the house during the trial preparations, convinced he was having an affair with Nina Olshaker. The kids are left to piece together a picture of their father (only Chandler is old enough to remember him). Fifteen years later, the Love Canal case is reopened (coinciding now with actual history) and a memorial service is held for Dirk Burnaby celebrating his early attempt to bring justice to the residents of “Colvin Heights.” His children and Ariah attend the service and enjoy some closure.
The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
What's your opinion on The Falls - Joyce Carol Oates?
7 Ratings: +2.7
You have exceeded the maximum length.
Joyce Carol Oates' The Falls
Related Topics
The Great Gatsby

A novel by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Da Vinci Code, Special Illustrated Edition

A book by Dan Brown

World According To Garp

a novel by John Irving

First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since