An Indie Next pick, an Okra 2016 Winter Selection, and a SIBA Bestseller!
Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.
Praise For Fallen Land: A Novel…
"Like McCarthy's Border Trilogy or Frazier's Cold Mountain, this is American literature at its best, full of art and beauty and the exploration of all that is good and bad in the human spirit." --Kirkus, starred review
"This is a masterpiece that deserves a full serving of accolades." --Booklist, starred review
"Brown’s expressive language captures the harsh realities of the South at the time. A nail-biting journey from first page to last." --Library Journal, starred review
“A story of love and loyalty set within the madness and chaos of war, Fallen Land is also a thrilling fugue, in both senses: of flight, and intricate composition. It is also the story of a revenge quest, the horrors of Sherman's March, a noble horse named Reiver, of sacrifice, endurance, and redemption. No one who reads Fallen Land will ever forget it. In this first novel Taylor Brown proves himself a fresh, authentic, and eloquent new voice in American fiction.” —Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek, Boone, and The Road from Gap Creek
“A shattering debut that puts one strongly in mind of the young Cormac McCarthy, and the best historical fiction I've read in ages.” —Pinckney Benedict, author of Town Smokes, The Wrecking Yard, and Dogs of God
“It is rare thing for a writer to have the talent and scope to exhibit both the worst and best of humanity in one book, much less in one scene, but that's what Brown does here: He literally floods the page with violent beauty and devastating grace. Well-known and oft-praised writers will look back on long and storied careers only to wish they had written a debut novel as flawless as Fallen Land.” —Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind Than Home
“Taylor Brown has given us the wonderful tale of Callum, who will make his way through his own private Civil War. His is not so much a war of grand battles and armies, but a real war of personal survival. Powerfully written, wonderfully told, Fallen Land needs to be part of every collection of great storytelling of the American Civil War.” —Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
"Harrowing and haunting, Brown’s novel travels through the brutality of the Civil War, the desperate yearning of young love, and the glint of hope that can illuminate tragedy. Thanks to Brown’s genius, you don’t just read this book--you inhabit it." --Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
St. Martin's Griffin, 9781250116840, 320pp.
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. What did you know about Sherman’s March to the Sea before this novel? How, if at all, did Fallen Land inform you about, or change your impression of, this chapter in history?
2. The main character, Callum, commits a string of violent acts throughout the novel. Do you find his actions justifiable? Are there any moments when you wish he’d acted differently?
3. The horse, Reiver, winds up becoming one of the main characters in the novel. He certainly has an interesting name. Why might the author have chosen to name him so?
4. The treatment of animals arises again and again in the novel. Do you find this distracting, or do you think the plight of animals is something we too often miss in stories of war?
5. We are taught, as young readers, that every story has a “moral.” Is there a moral to this novel? What can we learn about our world—and ourselves—from Callum and Ava’s story?