When the English Fall
A riveting and unexpected novel that questions whether a peaceful and nonviolent community can survive when civilization falls apart.   When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath. Once-bright skies are now dark. Planes have plummeted to the ground. The systems of modern life have crumbled. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) become more and more desperate, they begin to invade Amish farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the peaceable community. Seen through the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob as he tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos: Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they don’t, can they survive? David Williams’s debut novel is a thoroughly engrossing look into the closed world of the Amish, as well as a thought-provoking examination of “civilization” and what remains if the center cannot hold.  

When the English Fall Details

TitleWhen the English Fall
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 11th, 2017
PublisherAlgonquin Books
ISBN1616205229
ISBN-139781616205225
Number of pages256 pages
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Dystopia, Apocalyptic, Post Apocalyptic, Amish

When the English Fall Review

  • Sara Kennedy
    February 20, 2017
    David William’s debut novel When the English Fall offers a new perspective on apocalyptic fiction, written from the point of view of an Amish farmer named Jacob. Part insight into Amish culture, part dystopian novel, all written as journal entries, the novel follows the days leading up to a solar storm and its aftermath. Farmer Jacob lives a peaceful life with his wife Hannah and their two children, and occasionally does business with “the English” outside of his Amish community. His life is qui David William’s debut novel When the English Fall offers a new perspective on apocalyptic fiction, written from the point of view of an Amish farmer named Jacob. Part insight into Amish culture, part dystopian novel, all written as journal entries, the novel follows the days leading up to a solar storm and its aftermath. Farmer Jacob lives a peaceful life with his wife Hannah and their two children, and occasionally does business with “the English” outside of his Amish community. His life is quiet and deliberate, until the day that the English fall. What begins as a solar storm, beautiful in its brutality, ultimately transforms society, knocking out power and machinery for everyone, causing planes to crash from the sky and vehicles to sit without purpose. Jacob and his family, already accustomed to a life without modern conveniences, must decide what course of action they will take, and what assistance, if any, they will provide to their English neighbors.The novel offers a compelling plot and characters. Seeing the slow decline of society through the eyes of an Amish farmer and his family provides a unique perspective on the events taking place. Jacob’s daughter Rachel has what we might refer to as second sight, which Jacob attributes to her being born with a caul over her face. The passages involving Rachel and Jacob are some of the best in the novel, with Rachel offering prophetic glimpses of events which have not yet happened. Jacob’s English neighbors are also well-developed characters, providing a stark contrast to Jacob’s family and way of life. As events unfold outside of the Amish community, Jacob becomes witness to his English neighbors’ unraveling. The novel’s tone is slow and reflective, with Jacob pondering his place in the world, both before and after catastrophic events. The simple writing style reflects the simple lives of Jacob and his family. The story is compelling, however, and reads quickly, with the pace intensifying as the story progresses. The interesting points of view, perspective, plot, and characters add up to an enjoyable read. The author, David Williams, was inspired by the events of 1859, also known as the Carrington Event, which is one of the largest solar storms on record. Scientists believe that if a solar storm of this scale occurred today it would cause extensive damage, knocking out the electrical grid among other things. If you enjoy this novel, some great read-alikes for this title would be Station Eleven by Emily St. John-Mandel, California by Eden Lepucki, the One Second After series by William Forstchen, the World Made By Hand series by James Howard Kunstler, and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. If you are interested in reading more about the Carrington Event, try The Sun Kings: the unexpected tragedy of Richard Carrington and the tale of how modern astronomy began by Stuart Clark. When the English Fall will be released July 11th, 2017.
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  • Paula DuPont
    January 26, 2017
    I really loved the premise. When I picked the book up from the Algonquin/Workman stall at the ALA Midwinter conference, I read the back and was instantly hooked. An electromagnetic storm? Okay. That disrupts civilization? Right on. From the perspective of an Amish man? Oh hell yes. And that's exactly what the book is.Again, I loved the premise, but the story lacked the depth I'd hoped to see as this Amish community soldiered on while the outside world fell apart. I would have loved to have seen I really loved the premise. When I picked the book up from the Algonquin/Workman stall at the ALA Midwinter conference, I read the back and was instantly hooked. An electromagnetic storm? Okay. That disrupts civilization? Right on. From the perspective of an Amish man? Oh hell yes. And that's exactly what the book is.Again, I loved the premise, but the story lacked the depth I'd hoped to see as this Amish community soldiered on while the outside world fell apart. I would have loved to have seen the perspective of other people in the community or gotten a better look at what was happening out in the world, but because the novel was written as a diary, we only see the story through the eyes of Jacob, an Amish man. There isn't much resolution to the story, either, and the book just sort of ends without a compelling climax.The story was interesting, though, and I became really invested in Jacob, his family, and their community. I was worried how they would cope as I anticipated the world quickly devolving into a "Walking Dead" scenario. I won't give away whether the worst happens outside of the community and what this means inside of the community, but I was definitely on the edge of my seat, worrying for Jacob, until the last page.
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  • Michele
    March 22, 2017
    I had to think about this one for a while but I'm changing my initial rating from 3 to 4 simply because I'm still thinking about it. I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher.I was on a cross country flight this week for a librarian conference and just desperately going through my ebooks looking for something to read after I finished the amazing Ender's Game. I tried one and was bored, I scrolled thru the list several times, I had zero memory attached to the cover of I had to think about this one for a while but I'm changing my initial rating from 3 to 4 simply because I'm still thinking about it. I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the publisher.I was on a cross country flight this week for a librarian conference and just desperately going through my ebooks looking for something to read after I finished the amazing Ender's Game. I tried one and was bored, I scrolled thru the list several times, I had zero memory attached to the cover of this one so I clicked on it to see if I could figure out the plot from the first page or two (one thing I hate about advance reader copies is that there's no book info attached). so I read a page, didn't remember, read another page and had a vague recollection of Amish post-apocalypse, read another page and by now I was hooked. in fact, even when planes were falling out of the sky I didn't correlate that *I* myself was in an airplane. and I am a poor flyer to begin with. it was that engrossing. the premise is simple but revealed slowly due to the Amish POV. it's written in diary form by Jacob, a farmer, husband, father, worshipper, valiant member of the community. a massive solar flare or sun storm has knocked out electricity and fried circuits world wide and people in cities are losing their shit. the reader hears about that very removed as Jacob never sees it firsthand in a city. the community he lives in is carrying on pretty much business as usual with the farming and praying. there is a lot of both to do after all. but isolated attacks and scavenging start occurring to his friends as society devolves. it's a short read but it's focused. I've read a lot of post-apocalypse fiction and consequently experienced a range of human reactions to the psychological and physical stresses of their new reality. this was different. the Order, as the Amish community refers to itself in the book, aren't reliant on technology the way the rest of the world is and aren't impacted in the same way. as an exercise in focused human experience from a single POV to a realistic potential future event, this was incredibly interesting and well written. and now here's what I didn't like. what was up with the semi prologue introducing Jacob's journals as a find via letter between humanities colleagues? was that necessary? sometimes Jacob's writing was oddly repetitious. he would write the same short phrase twice. it distracted me out of the flow of the book every time. this is not a real example: the river flows so smoothly, so smoothly. see? it was just a writing device I didn't agree with, total personal preference. and lastly there were certain parts in the latter half of the book that made me want to scream. there is being naive and there is being purposely stupid. some of the things they did and DIDN'T do to protect themselves made me furious. I know it was part of the point of the religion and way of life to trust one another and provide for all but it was like in a horror movie where you yell at someone not to go in the garage or separate from the group. but overall, an excellent thought experiment, easy, short read and ripe for discussion. I could easily see this being taught in a classroom or as a book club read.
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  • Jen
    February 4, 2017
    When the English Fall by David Williams gives a decidedly different approach to a dystopian novel.From the description: When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath.Jacob is an Amish father whose daughter has what appear to be epileptic seizures in which she says, "The English fall." The English are what the Amish call those who do not belong to the Amish community, but Jacob and Han When the English Fall by David Williams gives a decidedly different approach to a dystopian novel.From the description: When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilization, an Amish community in Pennsylvania is caught up in the devastating aftermath.Jacob is an Amish father whose daughter has what appear to be epileptic seizures in which she says, "The English fall." The English are what the Amish call those who do not belong to the Amish community, but Jacob and Hannah have no idea what their daughter's words mean.A disastrous solar storm creates a world-wide EMP, an electromagnetic disturbance that causes planes to fall from the sky, the lights to go out around the world, and hospitals lose power. The modern world quickly begins to fall apart.In the initial stages, farmers are more fortunate than city dwellers. In the Pennsylvania community where Jacob and his family live, the "English" and the Amish are friends and neighbors who are better able to support themselves and who rely on and support each other. Even they, however, must make huge adjustments as machinery and generators and refrigeration damaged by the storm make life so much more difficult. Most cars won't start and fuel rapidly becomes a problem for the vehicles that still work.As expected, violence eventually results when food becomes scarcer and scarcer. How will the Amish respond to the inevitable violence?It is surprising to find that for the most part Jacob's journal entries calm the reader. Jacob is a thoughtful man and his beliefs are solid, so even when he knows what to expect, his responses are troubled but reflective and thoughtful. No solution to the end of the world as we know it available; there is little hope that there will be a rebuilding of society in any way similar to the one lost during the solar storm. How people survive will be a matter of personal choice.The novel contemplates the way in which the Amish, committed to lives of peace, prayer, and non-violence, will respond when confronted by the unavoidable reactions of the hungry, the frightened, and the violent in the aftermath of this disaster.I like that David Williams takes such a different approach to the dystopian novel. Read in Feb.; blog post scheduled for June 14.NetGalley/Algonquin BooksDystopian. July 11, 2017. Print length: 256 pages.
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  • Sarah
    February 7, 2017
    This book has a fascinating and unique concept: Postapocalyptic Amish fiction (as described by the author here). The story was told in journal entries, and I felt like the narrator and his wife became my personal friends. Their daughter added an extra layer of depth to the story.When the book ended, I was desperate for more of the story, but the ending was so well done that I almost wouldn't want a sequel. But just almost! It would be great for book clubs to discuss.I received an ARC from NetGal This book has a fascinating and unique concept: Postapocalyptic Amish fiction (as described by the author here). The story was told in journal entries, and I felt like the narrator and his wife became my personal friends. Their daughter added an extra layer of depth to the story.When the book ended, I was desperate for more of the story, but the ending was so well done that I almost wouldn't want a sequel. But just almost! It would be great for book clubs to discuss.I received an ARC from NetGalley. It will be published on July 11, 2017.
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  • Elena
    March 8, 2017
    Not sure how common it is to have a fascination with the Amish, but I am definitely in the category. Throw in some apocalyptic themes and a sprinkling of magical realism and I'm sold! An emotionally balanced and eerie look at civilization's breakdown and the strength of community and family. I appreciate that the religious aspect is not preachy, just a natural part of the story. Very well thought out.
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  • Debbie
    March 6, 2017
    I enjoy dystopian books and this one had an unusual twist- it was from the point of view of a society that wasn't really affected by the loss of power because they don't depend on technology. Very interesting concept and strong charcters.
  • Laura Valentine
    April 21, 2017
    Thought-provoking: what if the dystopia-to-come isn't due to human failure/engagement but a natural disaster? what would we do if it happens with absolutely no warning? can we (the non-Amish, aka "English") survive without modern technology?
  • R Z
    June 8, 2017
    Let me preface that I won a copy of this in a goodreads giveaway. An Amish man's journal before and after an electromagnetic storm blows out most power and machinery. It's a day-by-day account of what happens in their small Pennsylvania farmstead, and it reads in a convincingly simplistic fashion. I can imagine the complaint of, 'not much happens,' or, 'it doesn't go through the real meat of their life post-event' but I believe that is one of the good things about the novel; in characterization Let me preface that I won a copy of this in a goodreads giveaway. An Amish man's journal before and after an electromagnetic storm blows out most power and machinery. It's a day-by-day account of what happens in their small Pennsylvania farmstead, and it reads in a convincingly simplistic fashion. I can imagine the complaint of, 'not much happens,' or, 'it doesn't go through the real meat of their life post-event' but I believe that is one of the good things about the novel; in characterization it was time to let go, and so he did in action. I really enjoyed how they dealt with their unexpected visitors, and how the audience initially thinks it will go one way, only for it to go the complete opposite. The read was quiet in a way, and I really enjoyed that about it. I would definitely suggest it for a quick summer read!
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  • Andrew Campbell
    June 29, 2017
    Disquieting but gentle, When the English Fall made me ask what my responsibility was to my neighbor, my community, and myself.It is a little preachy in places, and I don't believe it needs the short prologue attached to it. Tonally and thematically controlled, it is still expansive enough to allow for glimpses of delight and hope. Of late I have read more formidable works, but none which didn't wallow in despair.David Williams' debut novel does the work of the very best fiction, and for years to Disquieting but gentle, When the English Fall made me ask what my responsibility was to my neighbor, my community, and myself.It is a little preachy in places, and I don't believe it needs the short prologue attached to it. Tonally and thematically controlled, it is still expansive enough to allow for glimpses of delight and hope. Of late I have read more formidable works, but none which didn't wallow in despair.David Williams' debut novel does the work of the very best fiction, and for years to come I will recommend it to anyone who wants to read something truly good.
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  • Liz
    June 23, 2017
    4.25 stars
  • Og Maciel
    May 29, 2017
    Loved it and just couldn't put it down.
  • Sasha (whispersofthesilentwind)
    February 27, 2017
    2.5 stars Note: received and reviewed as a NetGalley "Yes, we have the Order, and yes, we have our way, but the time when that meant we stood free from the world has passed." The premise and cover of this book are marvelous. On the other hand, William's writing was dry and simple throughout the whole book. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be like that to reflect how simple the Amish live (since our narrator is Amish) but I just wasn't impressed. The plot was pretty solid and I'm sad we we 2.5 stars Note: received and reviewed as a NetGalley "Yes, we have the Order, and yes, we have our way, but the time when that meant we stood free from the world has passed." The premise and cover of this book are marvelous. On the other hand, William's writing was dry and simple throughout the whole book. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be like that to reflect how simple the Amish live (since our narrator is Amish) but I just wasn't impressed. The plot was pretty solid and I'm sad we were left with the ending that we were left with. However I feel like Williams could have fleshed out the characters some more. You don't feel connected with any of them, not even Jacob. The only time I felt deeply for anything of them was when a seriously dramatic thing was going on. (Not going to say anymore than that because spoilers!) I have to say if it wasn't for the synopsis I probably wouldn't have even known some of the things that were going on in this book. For example, I barely grasped that it was a solar storm that caused all that devastation. I thought it was an electrical storm/bomb type thing. Also I really wanted Williams to expand on some of plot points that are in the book; like did Jacob have a serious (view spoiler)[ falling out with his uncle and father (hide spoiler)] because that's what I was gathering, and similar things along those lines. In the synopsis we are told that in When the English Fall we will "examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos: Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they don’t, can they survive?" but I never even really examined those thoughts. It was never a question in Jacob's mind what he should do; and therefore why would it be a question in mines? I feel that if Williams had had Jacob feeling more conflicted about picking up arms that it would have been more prevalent in the reader's mind. I'm very interested to see what else Williams has in store for his readers and I wouldn't mind picking up another one of this books.
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  • Allison
    March 8, 2017
    This would have been a great book if I had come upon it before reading One Second After by William Forstchen. Unfortunately the premise and even the development was too similar to keep my interest. In both books, a small community is living simply when some unexplained natural catastrophe abruptly shuts down the power grid. Here an Amish community is self sustaining and could easily continue their old-fashioned ways without much inconvenience, but unfortunately the English, that is, the prevaili This would have been a great book if I had come upon it before reading One Second After by William Forstchen. Unfortunately the premise and even the development was too similar to keep my interest. In both books, a small community is living simply when some unexplained natural catastrophe abruptly shuts down the power grid. Here an Amish community is self sustaining and could easily continue their old-fashioned ways without much inconvenience, but unfortunately the English, that is, the prevailing culture comes after them with force, destroying the peace of their community. We witness brutal violence and are caught in the clash of cultures. Told by one Amish farmer through the pages of his journal, it is a gripping story with a believable conclusion. It would have been even better if the premise wasn't already familiar to me.
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  • Mary
    March 11, 2017
    Told through diary entries of an Amish farmer/woodworker, When the English Fall is a fascinating apocalypse story. Jacob journals nightly, and the first 25-30 pages did not grab me. But as I got accustomed to the pacing and language, which I assume were chosen to mirror what an Amish male would sound/write like, I came to appreciate this choice. After a major solar storm (per the book jacket), all the trappings of 'modern' life disappear. While the Order where Jacob and his family of four live a Told through diary entries of an Amish farmer/woodworker, When the English Fall is a fascinating apocalypse story. Jacob journals nightly, and the first 25-30 pages did not grab me. But as I got accustomed to the pacing and language, which I assume were chosen to mirror what an Amish male would sound/write like, I came to appreciate this choice. After a major solar storm (per the book jacket), all the trappings of 'modern' life disappear. While the Order where Jacob and his family of four live are not overly affected, since they don't rely on computers, phones, refrigeration, etc, the outside world is upheaval, and it eventually arrives on their doorstep. His reaction and the consequences are interesting to follow. This book is going to stay with me for a long time.With thanks to the author and Algonquin Books for the Advanced Reader Copy. Set to be published on July 11, 2017
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  • Tony
    June 19, 2017
    I kept waiting for this to get good. I considered stopping around 75 pages in. Then, it got more interesting and I thought it would go somewhere. Then, it went somewhere, but not somewhere that was really interesting. The ending just made no sense. The issues with the daughter had potential, but then, it just didn't work. It felt like this was a book about an Amish man who has a magical daughter. I would have read that book. Then, it was a book about the Amish who survive a solar flare and how t I kept waiting for this to get good. I considered stopping around 75 pages in. Then, it got more interesting and I thought it would go somewhere. Then, it went somewhere, but not somewhere that was really interesting. The ending just made no sense. The issues with the daughter had potential, but then, it just didn't work. It felt like this was a book about an Amish man who has a magical daughter. I would have read that book. Then, it was a book about the Amish who survive a solar flare and how they choose to help the English. I live around the corner from some Amish folk, that would be right neighborly of them. I would have liked that book. The issue I had was that those two books, either of which I think I would have liked, did not work as one book. Still, I appreciate Net Galley for the ARC and Mr. Williams for being an artist and sharing his work with us.
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  • Sophie
    June 21, 2017
    Short and simple, but an interesting story about a population overlooked by apocalyptic stories. A good idea, a lovely style, a slightly tedious format, but a good read nonetheless. I almost want to see this done as a play. The setting is properly singular but flexible, and I think the narration would make the format work in a cool way. Someone consider this, I'll totally buy tickets.
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  • Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
    March 2, 2017
    ARC copy. 3.5 stars. This started out better than it ended, but it was definitely an interesting concept. I was hoping for more in depth with the daughter and what was happening outside the settlement, but I enjoyed it despite the Jesusy tone in some parts.
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  • Anna
    March 15, 2017
    The premise of When the English Fall was captivating: how would an Amish community fare when the rest of the world is faced with technological and civil breakdown? The book has a sparse writing style, told through journal entries by an Amish farmer/father in Lancaster County, PA. It's certainly different than any other dystopian fiction I've read, with a quiet, day-to-day report on the life of the Amish family and their community, the farm and faith practices, and with distant reports of growing The premise of When the English Fall was captivating: how would an Amish community fare when the rest of the world is faced with technological and civil breakdown? The book has a sparse writing style, told through journal entries by an Amish farmer/father in Lancaster County, PA. It's certainly different than any other dystopian fiction I've read, with a quiet, day-to-day report on the life of the Amish family and their community, the farm and faith practices, and with distant reports of growing unrest amongst the English (non-Amish) out in the world. It also contain an odd subplot about the family's epileptic and possibly prophetic teenage daughter. I would like to re-read this story from the perspective of this teen, or the journal-writer's wife, as their inner lives could have been compelling. I enjoyed passages on the strong guiding faith of the Order, and what it means to live with the best and worst of humanity in trying times. It was a short novel, so worth checking out if the premise is of interest, but much of it felt like a chronicle of farming and dread.
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  • Shannon A
    May 15, 2017
    "That is part of the greatest danger to our souls, a pride that can come when we set ourselves apart to be servants, but then assume that our servanthood makes us better" (Page 167). What happens to Amish when the world of The English doesn't hold?As people discover that all their modern day conveniences and luxuries stop working, they seek out the help of the Amish, with devastating consequences for both societies. This debut novel is as much a meditation on the ways of Amish & the past it "That is part of the greatest danger to our souls, a pride that can come when we set ourselves apart to be servants, but then assume that our servanthood makes us better" (Page 167). What happens to Amish when the world of The English doesn't hold?As people discover that all their modern day conveniences and luxuries stop working, they seek out the help of the Amish, with devastating consequences for both societies. This debut novel is as much a meditation on the ways of Amish & the past it is a reflection of today's world and possible future.
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  • Lori
    January 23, 2017
    I received this as an ARC. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but in a good way. The concept was original, which is harder to find in YA dystopia these days, and it's definitely a unique perspective. I wish the story was longer, but the ending was fitting and made sense.
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  • KarnagesMistress
    May 27, 2017
    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. It is an advance reading copy.
  • Tory
    April 25, 2017
    3.5 stars. It was good, but it ended before any real drama picked up. The going got tough, and...the end. No resolution. I'd read a sequel, but as a stand-alone, I was left wanting.
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