Gowdy, Barbara. Falling Angels. New York: Soho Press, 1990.
Reason read: On March 29th in 1848 Niagara Falls stopped flowing.
First and foremost I have to say this is a tragic book. I was not expecting it to be so violent, so scary or so very, very sad. The terrible thing is this: I realize there are probably hundreds of thousands of households just like the Fields out there. That thought alone makes the book all the scarier.
Second comment: Nancy included this in the chapter called “Niagara Falls” and yet Niagara Falls isn’t really in the book. It’s a memory and an end.
From the outside, the Fields family looks like your typical suburban household. Dad goes to work everyday. Mom stays home and looks after their three daughters, Sandy age eight, Lou age nine and Norma, ten. The children go to school and occasionally are seen around the neighborhood. No one questions when the family disappears for two weeks. What they don’t know is instead of going to Disney for a family vacation militant and World War III-expectant dad forces them to live in an underground bunker as training for a nuclear disaster. It is the post-war early 60s after all. No one seems to notice middle daughter, Lou, as she does all the grocery shopping for the family, or that the mother is rarely seen outside.
Go inside and the Fields household is even less of a pretty sight. Mom, practically comatose, drinks to erase a terrible memory (involving Niagara Falls). Dad has a violent temper and is prone to attack whomever is in reach when he’s in between girlfriends.
In the ten year span of the story the daughters get older and experience puberty and do so without a responsible parent to guide them. They are on their own. Each daughter copes in her own way. The end results are disastrous.
Scary line, “He was as unpredictable as a police dog”. For one, police dogs are not supposed to be unpredictable to anyone except a criminal.
Two more sad lines, “But his eyes are her eyes gone to hell” (p 105) and “Extreme happiness and terror have always felt the same to her” (p 150).
Author fact: Gowdy has her own website here.
Book trivia: Falling Angels was made into a movie in 2003 and why not? the book has sex, drugs, and death. All that’s missing is a good car chase.
Nancy said: absolutely nothing. But, as an aside: she could have included this in Book Lust in the chapter “Families in Trouble” (p 86).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the short chapter “Niagara Falls” (p 156).