Algonquin Books, July 11, 2017.
When the English Fall chronicles the lives of the peaceful farmers in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. When a catastrophic solar storm leads to the collapse of the “English” (the Amish name for any non-Amish people), the community continues its self-sufficient way of life. Meanwhile, the world around them has effectively come to an end.
Modern life is at a stand-still – with no electricity and no way of trading, the English soon run out of food. In contrast, the Amish have storerooms full of meat and vegetables, as well as their ongoing crops in the field. It proves to be too much of a temptation to the people around them, who become desperate and invade the Amish farms. Instead of trying to work together, the English come with violence that they wreak on the peaceable community.
The story is told through the diary of a farmer named Jacob, who lives on the land with his wife, son and daughter. The daughter has had seizures in the past in which she foresees the fall of the English – where she was once an outcast for this oddity, she is now viewed as a prophet for the Amish community. I thought that the daughter’s role could have been a much stronger part of the story – there were some really good plot elements that were left unexplored.
The novel begins with the discovery of Jacob’s diary by the military, years after the apocalypse. Again, I thought this aspect of the plot would be developed much further – I kept waiting for the timelines to come together, but the novel ended suddenly and without resolution. When the English Fall has the potential to be an excellent examination of civilization and what is left when it is stripped down to its core – especially when a non-violent community must consider taking up arms to defend itself. Overall, it was just too short and lacking in depth. However, if the author chose to develop this plot further, I think it could be something great.
I received this book from Algonquin Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.