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LGBTQ Recs Month

Celebrate the queerest month of the year...


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Book: Fall on Your Knees
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ketchup_fights wrote in lgbtq_recs
 Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie Macdonald, makes no bones about being a gothic tale about a doomed family. The first line of the book is “They’re all dead now.”

But this is far from an unrelentingly bleak novel. It's full of black humor, humanity, and hope as it tells the story of four daughters in a lonely, turn-of-the-century island town in Novia Scotia.

The Piper family is held together by duty and music and Catholic guilt, and the four Piper sisters grow up haunted by the sins of their parents and grandparents. The four girls wrestle with the past, and struggle to find their own path in life. These four are some of the loveliest, most vivid characters I've come across in recent years.

This is a story about the secrets people keep in a small town and in a close-knit family. Queerness is most definitely a secret in this world, and one of the Piper family's secrets is a heartbreaking lesbian love story that is, in some ways, the emotional lynchpin of the novel. To be more descriptive would give away some major spoilers. Suffice it to say I fell in love with this love story between two passionate, unapologetic women, and despite the relative brevity of pages devoted to it, MacDonald structures the novel in such a way that its presence echoes throughout the story.

All of her characters are deeply human and sympathetic, but some of them are also terrible people who do terrible things. While I think the book is best read unspoiled (it's book that's very much about its secrets) there is one triggery, potentially problematic event in the novel that I'd like to give readers the option of being warned for.


The darkest secret of the novel is that one of the lesbian characters is raped by her father, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy and her eventual death by childbirth. It's heartbreaking, brutal, and infuriating. There's nothing exploitive or dismissive about it, and I personally think MacDonald, herself an out lesbian, manages to structure the novel in such a way it that minimizes the worst of what could be a tired iteration of the Dead Tragic Lesbian Trope. That said, it's still a deeply upsetting plotline and very triggery.

Non-spoilery short version: It's a novel about death and loss and the horrible things a family can do to each other, and should be approached with that in mind. Those in search of a dark, sprawling gothic novel with a love story between two women at the heart of it will be well rewarded.
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And I'm glad to see others loved it too! It really is excellent.

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Apparently she's been pretty active in the Canadian lesbian community. She's even acted in a couple of lesbian indie films, most notably Better Than Chocolate.

Aaaah you've just made my life!!

I revisited that film the other day (sometimes I like to re-watch all the old lesbian films I first watched when I was 15) and I was reminded how much I love the character Frances. I never thought to look up who played her.

The fact that it's Ann-Marie MacDonald is beautiful! I've read Fall on Your Knees (again when I was a teen) and adored it; I also read her play. I haven't read her second novel but intend to at some point.

Ah, my little lesbian heart is so pleased at small-worldness, now. She also played a small part in The L Word, from what I saw (though I can't remember it).

Thank you for the rec and a further thank you for connecting up some missing pieces in my life that I didn't even know were missing! :D

You're welcome! I actually owe this one to my friends who've seen the movie--they made the connection and were just as delighted as you when they worked it out. I'm thinking I really need to see Better Than Chocolate at some point.

Which play of hers did you read, and how was it? I've been thinking of pursuing more of her writing.

I read 'Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)'. I read it many years ago. I think at the time I believed it was pretty okay - but then anything that had lesbian representation was excellent to me. I'd have to read it again now to know how it is, I'm afraid!

I haven't heard of that one. I It seems to be available for cheap on Amazon, though, so I am tempted. I have a bit of a weakness for Shakespeare revisionism.

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