Excerpt from The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Falls

by Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2005, 512 pages

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Print Excerpt


Ariah had tried. Ariah was determined to be an ideal bride, and an ideal daughter-in-law.

A clamor of church bells. Sunday morning!

In a strange bed, in a strange city, and lost.

A female voice chiding in her ear, and a smell of Mother Erskine’s talcumy bosom. If you’ve never drunk anything stronger than sweet cider, Ariah, do you think it’s wise to have a second glass of champagne—so soon after the first?

Possibly it hadn’t been Gilbert’s mother but Ariah’s own mother. Or possibly it had been both mothers at separate times.

A giggly-shivery bride. In satin and Chantilly lace, fussy little mother-of-pearl buttons, a gossamer veil and lace gloves to the elbow that, peeled off after the luncheon, left small diamond-shaped indentations in her sensitive skin like an exotic rash. At the luncheon, held in the Littrells’ big, gloomy brick residence adjacent to the church, the bride was observed nervously lifting her champagne glass to her lips numerous times. She ate little, and her hand so trembled she dropped a forkful of wedding cake. Her rather small, almond-shaped pebbly-green eyes were continually misting over, as with an allergy.

From The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

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