A man climbs over
the railing and plunges into Niagara Falls. A newlywed, he has left behind his
wife, Ariah Erskine, in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding.
“The Widow Bride of The Falls,” as Ariah comes to be known, begins a
relentless, seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At
her side throughout, confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk
Burnaby is unexpectedly transfixed by the strange, otherworldly gaze of this
plain, strange woman, falling in love with her though they barely exchange a
word. What follows is their passionate love affair, marriage, and children—a
seemingly perfect existence.
But the tragedy by
which their life together began shadows them, damaging their idyll with
distrust, greed, and even murder. What unfurls is a drama of parents and their
children; of secrets and sins; of lawsuits, murder and eventually redemption.
Set against the mythic historic backdrop of
Niagara Falls, Joyce Carol Oates explores the American family in crisis but
also America itself in the mid-twentieth century. The Falls is a love
story gone wrong and righted, and it alone places Joyce Carol Oates
definitively in the company of the great American novelists.
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