I'm monogamous with books to a fault. I have favorites- and I read them over and over. And over. And over. My most favorite book, Fall on Your Knees, I've read bi-monthly since I was 14. That's... at least 75 times. I'm on my fourth copy, all previous versions having been literally (ha) read to shreds.
When I realized that my favorite author, creator the the fore mentioned book, was in Better Than Chocolate while the credits were rolling, I made my then partner rewind and start the movie over from the beginning. I almost cried when she showed up in The L Word (and then again when she showed up later in the show and I was still watching the L Word).
Fall on Your Knees was given to me by my friend, teacher, and mentor who, thank goodness, had no qualms about giving the saddest, darkest (sexiest) book to a brooding 14 year old. I devoured it. Spoiler- it gets gay. As a little baby lez, this was the biggest treasure. To love a book already. To have subconsciously forgiven it, and found ways to connect with it even when you didn't think it was about anyone like you. And then to have it sink off in that direction with all the poise and elegance of the rest of the book. I was smitten*. I'm still smitten. So smitten, in fact, that at the book store yesterday I found myself scanning the shelves for Ann-Marie MacDonald's name. She has written three books. I've read them all (the most recent two not quite 75 times, but they are still very good). I also own them all, so there is no reason to scan titles for them as if I'm in the market for another copy. But it is a thrill to see them in the bookstore, on someone else's shelf. Like seeing an old friend in a new place. The recognition lends a soft layer of comfort to the space and makes me feel at home. Want me to frequent your business? Put a copy of my favorite book on your shelves to greet me.
The book itself is long, and a joyful lot to slog through. I would give it a second or third read even if I wasn't deeply committed to it, because there are endless tiny moments to miss, and those tiny moments change everything. In my 13 year relationship with this book I have identified with different characters and found solace in different (well worn, currently falling out) pages depending on my state of being. As for a synopsis- hmmmm.
Several generations of women from one family live their lives with tear-inducing bitterness and heart wrenching kindness, despite and because of the horrible things that happen to them. There is talk of kibbeh nayyeh, mining, singing, and emerald silk. There is a lot of forgiveness, and none what-so-ever required from the reader.
*This feeling is akin to listening to Bright Eyes at 15 and wishing it you were listening to Elliott Smith and then realizing that the song you're listening to is about Elliott Smith. Also, as an aside, I never knew how I felt about Bright Eyes. A part of me loved Connor Oberst and a part of me wanted to make fun of him and everyone listening to him. But, as a particularly unenthused, anti-drama, high school theater kid (I painted sets) my one sort of theater-y claim to fame was being able to recite the beginning of "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" word for word. Because, well, we all have our niche.