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Extended Audio Sample The Falls: A Novel Audiobook, by Joyce Carol Oates Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,914 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joyce Carol Oates Narrator: Anna Fields Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2004 ISBN: 9780060786564
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A man climbs over the railings 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.

Performed by Anna Fields

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Hypnotic…Oates juxtaposes a majestic and dangerous natural phenomenon—the Falls at Niagara—with a man-made monstrosity, the deadly witches’ brew of nuclear and toxic waste known as Love Canal—as the threatening elements underlying a family saga of self-destruction and redemption.”

    Washington Post

  • “With prose as light and eerie as the flutter of piano keys, Joyce Carol Oates’ new novel is a dazzlingly ambitious tale…Bumpy, dense, topical, and deeply affecting, The Falls is that rare family saga with both a kind heart and an ugly gut. Credit the fascinating woman at its core. Oates, a writer who has conceived some of the most intriguing, disturbing female characters of the past half century, has forged in Ariah a creature of steel—nicked, twisted, but somehow lovely.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Engaging…the Gothic meets Erin Brockovich.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Geography, history, and human psychology are refracted through the author’s fevered, romantic, and sublime imagination…The ironies are rich, delicious, and disturbing.”

    Star Tribune

  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 2/12/2014

    " I wanted to like this book much more than I did. Ariah seemed like three completely different people in three vaguely related books, and none of her characterizations were very likeable. The history around and setting of Niagara Falls made it worth finishing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ishanie | 2/9/2014

    " It was pretty good yet at times monotonous. Ariah's relationship with her kids is sometimes disturbing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniela | 2/5/2014

    " could make a great movie (or a class B-weepie?) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Imen Stitches | 2/4/2014

    " Thought I was going to enjoy this A LOT more. A bit rambly at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judkatty | 1/25/2014

    " a mite creepy, a might wicked and a mite marvelous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hilary Carpenter | 1/18/2014

    " Grand, sweeping saga set in the Niagara Falls, mostly during the first phase of the Love Canal litigation. In true Oates fashion, the characters are all thoroughly annoying, but you keep reading about them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Allie | 1/12/2014

    " Give me a break - I needed a book to read and this was the only one my sister owned that I hadn't read yet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leorah | 1/12/2014

    " This was a compelling read. Oates is the master of character development and dark twists. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marilyn | 12/12/2013

    " To me, this one "falls" flat. Ariah was the mother from hell - I was more interested in how her children reacted to her (towards the end of the book)than in Ariah's story itself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 12/2/2013

    " Interesting read, a little slow but a good book in the end. Joyce Carol Oates is a great writer, like her stuff! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy T | 9/24/2013

    " I enjoyed this book, but felt it could of been a lot shorter. Very detailed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth | 9/11/2013

    " I don't think JCA can write a bad book, but this isn't her strongest. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Luckyfrgg | 7/22/2013

    " Good and sweet and very sad. Worth reading if you're in the mood for some good gothic tragedy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shannon | 10/2/2012

    " I picked this up because I wanted to read something by Joyce Carol Oates. There are some memorable elements but it really drags and I couldn't finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa H. | 8/6/2012

    " Oates sure does know how to write. Her descriptions are so detailed & she weaves a complex story, but I must admit her books tend to depress me. I've decided I can only read them sparingly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joan | 1/9/2012

    " Ms Oates has a very complicated writing style. I enjoy her insights and character study; but I strongly dislike her excessive use of sentence fragments, abrupt scene and subject changes and the jumping back and forth in time and viewpoint. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy Sawyer | 8/2/2011

    " Not as good as We were the Mulvaneys. But I still like her writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lucia | 6/26/2011

    " One of my all time favourite books. Very interesting history about Niagara Falls and the surrounding area as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Morgan Crull | 5/12/2011

    " I loved the slow, hazy, and blue feeling of this novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Imen | 4/17/2011

    " Thought I was going to enjoy this A LOT more. A bit rambly at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth | 4/11/2011

    " I don't think JCA can write a bad book, but this isn't her strongest. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elizabeth | 4/1/2011

    " creepy but very well-written story - typical Oates "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nan | 3/26/2011

    " GOOD READ! Flawed characters make this one and surprises and twists keep the reader's eyes glued to the pages; not an ooey gooey nauseating sweet tale, but a more true to life story with very human dilemmas. Interesting!
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leif | 3/19/2011

    " Poor characterization, rushed plot, horrible prose... No. Just no. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 3/11/2011

    " Really cliche in parts. Boring characters. Way, way too many adjectives. It felt like I was reading a lot of fluff. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Geni | 3/1/2011

    " The book was about 450 pages too long. It was a slim story stretched too thin with unnecessary repetition. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 2/27/2011

    " great writing - didn't care about the family -felt like I was missing the point "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 The Reading Cove | 2/11/2011

    " 63rd: THE FALLS by Joyce Carol Oates
    Trivia Winner - Roberta

    ~COVE OPINION: C, Okay story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bicefalus | 2/2/2011

    " la storia di una famiglia americana ... un inzio strano uno sviluppo bellissimo e tanto materiale che ci fa pensare che ci siamo proprio voluti male negli ultimi 100 anni "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenna | 2/1/2011

    " Not a book I would have usually picked but found it captivating. Hard to like the protagonist, but loved the others who surround her. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Betty | 1/18/2011

    " This book was very long, and it took me a long to get through. The plot was interesting, but it was way too long, and too complicated. It was a real struggle to get into the end. "

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About the Author
Author Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger, and The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.

About the Narrator

Kate Fleming (a.k.a. Anna Fields) (1965–2006), winner of more than a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award in 2004, was one of the most respected narrators in the industry. Trained at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, she was also a director, producer, and technician at her own studio, Cedar House Audio.