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Salem Falls - Jodi Picoult

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Author: Jodi Picoult / Genre: Fiction

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      05.11.2012 10:44
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      Not my favourite JP book

      This is a review of the 2001 book "Salem Falls" by Jodi Picoult. I am working my way through all the books this author has written as generally, I enjoy reading her novels.

      A bit about
      In the village of Salem Falls, it's a small town culture and everyone knows who everyone is and where they came from, what they do etc. so when a new man, Jack St Bride arrives in Town there is a lot of curiosity about him. He lands a job as a dish washer at the local diner and quickly establishes a relationship with its owner Addie and friendship with her Dad Roy. Jack is quiet about his past and very mysterious but also clearly highly intelligent, being able to answer all the questions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy. Slowly Addie finds out about his past and it's one that the rest of the village really don't like. They want him out and begin a vigilante style attack on Jack until he ends up in a no win situation and the usual court case Picoult's books tend to revolve around begins.

      Characters
      Jack is quiet but likeable. He has had an unfortunate past that has wrecked his life and you can't help but feel sorry for him. He has spent time in prison for a crime he claims he didn't do and you want to believe him. Addie is a strange lady who is still grieving nearly ten years after her daughter died. She still makes lunch for a daughter and keeps her bedroom as a shrine to her. By talking to her she keeps her memory alive but everyone things she is odd and she is the subject of humour to a lot of the local kids. No one seems to understand her and she just wants a quiet life. Her dad, Roy is a struggling alcoholic who misses his dead wife so much he seeks regular solace in alcohol and has lost his driving license because of this. Other local characters play a part in the book: the local Sherriff, the chemical factory owner, the local police man and two lawyers that are fighting for and against an accusation of rape against Jack in Salem Falls. Finally, the crux of the book is the four teenage girls who have formed a coven to practice witchcraft firstly to help people in need then latterly to cause trouble and mischief against people they don't like.

      My thoughts
      I quite liked reading Salem Falls and found the subject of modern day witchcraft very interesting. It didn't go too deep in the subject so did not feel too much part of the story but it helped to pull together a lot of the strands of the book. The idea of bringing a stranger on foot into the town was a good intriguing ways of starting the book and really did make it interesting right from the start. There were a few love interest stories along the way, some will they or won't they couples that kept the momentum going and spanned a few generations. The ending of the book is utterly chilling and was a real surprise to me. It took a bit of thinking about to work out what the author is suggesting but there are a lot of online discussions regarding this reveal if you are still confused! I'm not going to say any more as it would ruin the book for other readers to say.

      Final word
      Whilst I enjoyed this book, it's not been my favourite read by this author and hasn't even made it in to the top five. I still read it quite quickly though and can recommend it as a good read. I still have a few more on the shelf and a few more to find yet so will continue on the Picoult quest. It's a good job I write down all the ones I have read as it is starting to get a little confusing!

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      01.11.2012 12:03

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      Overall another brilliant book from an inspirational writer

      Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors because no matter what the story line is, she can stretch it out into a dramatic crime scene that you can just step right into and leave your own world behind. She has this amazing talent of inviting the reader to feel every emotion the characters feel, and whether you love or hate them you feel like you're in their bones watching things from a very close distance.

      I picked up Salem Falls from a second hand book store when I was looking for something to read on a road trip, I'd never read any of her books before but the story line looked intriguing and I happily took it along with me. Little did I know I would be hooked for the entire trip!

      The story line is centred around a group of teenage girls dabbling in witch craft and a new teacher in town really catches their eye. I really don't want to give too much away about the story line because I think with Picoult's books you really need to experience them for yourself!

      Her writing style is absolute genius, she keeps you guessing with characters making it difficult for the reader to identity the true victim and it really is like being as part of a jury in a court room. Like I said.. You're going to need a few days off work for this one because is literally impossible to put down!

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      22.06.2012 20:40
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      An engaging book to keep you turning the pages

      I have read quite a few Jodi Picoult books this year and really enjoyed them as they tend to be easy to read and very gripping, dealing with some kind of moral issue at the centre of the story and ending in a court case and various twists and turns. Salem Falls was the first novel I ever read by Jodi Picoult (I think this must have been around 7 years ago if I remember correctly) and when I was sorting through some of my old books I decided I would read it again.

      === Story in brief ===

      Salem Falls can be described as a story about a "modern day witch hunt". Jack McBride was wrongly convicted of raping a student and when he is released from prison he just wants to start over in life, live peacefully and anonymously, and stay out of trouble. The first few passages about Jack are extremely intriguing and drew me straight in. He ends up in the small town of Salem Falls where he gets a job in a diner, falls in love, and thinks his life might be getting back on track until his past conviction becomes common knowledge in the town. Meanwhile, teenager Gillian Duncan and her friends are experimenting with magic, drugs and the Wiccan religion, which brings them to the woods in the middle of the night. Jack ends up there drunk and Gillian claims he raped her. Jack is sure he didn't do it, but he has no memory of that night... Slowly the evidence is pieced together and we find out what really happened.

      === Dealing with a sensitive subject ===

      The subject is an interesting one. I think Jodi Picoult needed to be very careful when dealing with this topic to make sure that she is not giving the impression that false allegations of rape are more common than they actually are. Real instances of rape are much more common than false allegations, despite what some newspapers seem to try and suggest. Picoult is obviously aware of this and in the questions and answers section at the back of the book she has clearly stated that she deliberately included a number of characters who had been raped in order to balance the false allegations and show the other side of it. The diner owner Addie Peabody was raped years ago when she was in her teens, and in flashbacks to Jack's younger years we also see the shocking casual attitude to date rape that was prevalent among a lot of his friends. Jack's mother also worked with prostitutes and rape victims, so the subject of rape is dealt with quite sensitively and we are not only shown the false allegations. If these other rape experiences had not been included it would have ruined the book in my opinion, as I think it would be extremely irresponsible to portray a world where all women claiming to have been raped were lying.

      Being falsely accused of rape is something which would be many men's worst nightmare, and we are shown Jack's thoughts, feelings and experiences about this in some detail, in a way which definitely makes you sympathise with him as we learn what happened with the student and made me believe he was not guilty of raping Gillian, although there were moments throughout the book which seemed to make me doubt and remain unsure.

      === Characters ===

      The main characters are those already mentioned - Jack and Gillian. However there is quite a wide cast in this novel, including some who turn up again in later Jodi Picoult books. The lawyer Jordan McAfee defends Jack in the trial and he is someone who will be familiar to a lot of Jodi Picoult's readers. In Salem Falls we see how he gets together with Selena, who he is still together with years later. I recently read the book 19 Minutes which shows these two as a longstanding couple so it was nice to get the flashback to how the relationship started.

      I found it interesting to read about Gillian's group of friends and the dynamic between them. I liked the bits about their magic and Wicca which were shown. This was quite a nice link to the idea of the "witch hunt".

      The relationships between fathers and daughters in this story are also interesting, for example between Gillian and her father, Addie the diner owner (Jack's girlfriend) and her father, Gillian's friend Meg and her father, the police officer Charlie. The one relationship which I found a little bit out of place and badly executed was that of Addie and her daughter Chloe, who had died at age 10. This was not explored in much detail and some aspects of it seemed quite awkward and unconvincing to me.

      === Over all ===

      This is a book which I did not want to put down. It is fairly long, at nearly 500 pages, but I read it within 2 days and found myself staying up til about 4:00 am with it. It really made me feel involved in the story and it is written in a light, readable way. There are hints throughout this book which keep you guessing right up until the end, and there is a bit of a twist. As this was my second time reading, I remembered the twist when I was part way through, so I did notice some hints about this throughout which I never noticed the first time.

      I recommend it.

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        07.05.2011 19:43
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        Not my favourite Jodi Picoult, but definitely worth a read!

        Jodi Picoult's name is one that more and more people are hearing about and noticing on the shelves in book stores or in the library. I am a big fan of hers and love her books. Each has you questioning some sort of dilemma and has the reader constantly thinking 'what would I do in that situation?', 'who would I side with?', 'what would I be thinking?'. This element of constant reader self questioning is something I think Jodi does well in all her books.

        To give a quick over-view of the plot (without giving too much away of course :-P ) Jack St.Bride was a school teacher with a good reputation until one of his pupils accuses him of rape. Jack is encouraged to say that he committed the offence in order to get a reduced sentence of 8 months. On his release Jack sets off with a determination to start a new life away from the past and the accusations. Fate brings him to Salem Falls, a small town, where Jack soon settles in and begins a relationship with the diner owner Addie Peabody... that is until the locals find out about his past. Things are stirred up in the town, and with most of the town believing that Jack committed the first offence, it is easy for them to believe that when Jack is accused of rape again that he is guilty. The girl that accuses him of rape is Gilly, the teenage daughter of one of the most influential men in the town. The reader finds out a little about Gilly and her three close friends, all of whom follow the Pagan religion secretly. The girls are out celebrating Beltane the night the accused rape happens. After the accusation, the inevitable courtroom drama follows. The reader is given a number of clues throughout. Some point to Jack at being a clear suspect, some help prove his innocence. Addie stands by Jack, but has her moments of doubting him. What you believe as the reader is left up to you.

        There are other things that are dealt with throughout the book as minor storylines, but I shall leave you to discover those by reading it. I don't want to give too much away.

        The way in which this book is written it is clear that Jodi has done some homework. The court scenes are described in detail, really letting the leader believe in the trail and the various witnesses that are called to the stand. Some aspects of the Pagan religion are discussed in enough detail for the story to be believable. That being said however, this aspect of the storyline could have possibly been developed a little more... but there is enough detail there for the story to take place and flow.
        I enjoyed the way that we get to know the history of the characters, which gives them depth throughout. The way the chapters are written allows the reader to move backwards and forwards in time, which I felt was a good way to allow us to discover more about the characters history.

        Not the lightest of books to read, but then a book centred around rape isn't going to be. I enjoyed the various perspectives that the book gives from the victim, to the accused, to those that support both sides. It isn't as simple as only seeing one point of view. There are points throughout that leave you guessing, some more predictable than others, and there is a bit of a Jodi twist at the end, although not quite in the same league as some of her other books.

        Overall, a definite page turner, and well worth a read. Not my favourite Jodi Picoult book, but a brilliant read none the less, so would recommend!

        Currently availiable on Amazon for £4.14 with free delivery (May 2011) however I picked up my copy from a local charity shop.

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          08.08.2010 19:34
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          an excellent read

          I have been a big fan of the author Jodi Picoult for a few years now but for some reason had never got round to reading Salem Falls which is one of her earlier books. I think this was partly because I had read a few mixed reviews but I've now read the book and can definitely rate it positively and firmly recommend it as a riveting and absorbing book.

          At the start of the book the reader meets Jack St Bride who is just leaving prison after serving eight months for a crime he never committed. A former student's crush had led to his arrest for unlawful sexual activity. Although innocent, there appeared to be a wealth of evidence against him and so he had been forced to accept a plea bargain rather than face a much longer jail term if found guilty. When he leaves jail he has no job, no money and no place to go. Fate leads him to Salem Falls, a small town, where fortunately, Addie Peabody, the owner of a local diner desperately needs a dishwasher and Jack walks in at just the right moment!

          Things start to look much more hopeful for Jack, especially when he and Addie start getting on very well. It looks like he could settle and be happy in Salem Falls and even put the past behind him. That is until the local townsfolk start to learn about his past and many of them don't want him in their town. It is only Addie's faith that sustains him but even her support is tested to extremes when a local girl accuses him of rape and it looks like Jack's nightmare is about to flare up all over again. A court case ensues and Jack is determined to prove his innocence this time but will anyone believe him?

          This absorbing book is a combination of many different stories that all interlink very well and hook the reader in more and more as it heads towards its climax. In fact I was so hooked that I read the final third of the book in just one sitting. It doers start a bit slowly but it is definitely worth persevering with as you will be in for a truly memorable and thought provoking read.

          It is not a light and easy read by any means but you would not expect it to be so when the main topic is rape. The subject is dealt with sensitively though and explores many aspects of rape. Not only is there the allegation by Gilly, the young girl, but there's also the angle that looks at how it feels to be wrongly accused. Also, adding a dimension, Addie was a victim of rape herself as a teenager which led to the birth of her daughter Chloe. She has to examine her feelings very closely and to deal with a few ghosts from her past.

          Jodi Picoult tends to have to have a number of main characters in her stories and it can sometimes be a job keeping up with them all. It's the same with Salem Falls, where not only is there Jack and Addie, there's also Gilly and her father Amos, Charlie Saxton the chief of police, Jordan McAfee who becomes Jack's defence lawyer and Matt Houlihan who is the prosecutor. There are also Gilly's girlfriends. Although they number quite a few they are all essential to the overall plot and each bring their own elements to the tale. I think Jodi Picoult crafts her characters extremely well and particularly I felt a lot for both Jack and Addie.

          Each of Picoult's novels seems to feature a different aspect of life and it always feels very well researched. In this book it is young girls dabbling in witchcraft which at times felt a bit far-fetched but it was totally essential to the story. The court action as well as some of the things that went on in jail all felt very believable.

          Overall I thought Salem Falls was an extremely good read and as I said I found it hard to put down at the end. I don't think it is her absolute best but it does rank very highly as far as I am concerned and I definitely recommend it for a thought provoking and enjoyable read.

          The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £4.93 (August 2010).

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            07.04.2010 10:41
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            extremely interesting

            Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and I do not hesitate to pick her books from the shelves in bookstores (or most often, charity shops). Last night I finished reading 'Salem Falls' which I really enjoyed.

            Jack St. Bride was a beloved teacher at a private girls' school in New England. It is not surprising that some of his pupils have a crash on him - he's a former athlete, warm, intelligent and highly educated. However, no one would ever suppose that one of the girls will claim that they have a love affair! Scared of her father, Catherine Marsh accusses Jack of raping her. Advised by his lawyer, Jack pleads guilty as all the evidence shows that's what his has done and goes to jail for 8 months.

            After that, he needs a fresh start so one day he finds himself wandering into a diner in Salem Falls. He immediately gets emplyed as a... dishwasher and despite his great educatio he doesn't mind. Happy that no one asked about his criminal record, he starts to do his job and tries to do it well.

            Addie Peabody works in the Do-Or-Diner. He beloved daughter Chloe died about 7 years ago but Addie still pretends she's around. Addie works very hard and when Jack appears at the diner, she employs him immediately. Then she falls in love.

            Everything seems perfect - two unhappy people fell in love and found their happiness. However, Jack doesn't admit his past and someone else tells Addie. Peabody is shocked but finally believes that Jack is innocent.

            When the habitants of Salem Falls found out that Jack was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl, they want him to leave the town. They make his life much more difficult but he doesn't want to leave.

            Gillian Duncan is the richest girl in town, her father Amos Duncan has a pharmeceutical company. She is used to getting everything she wants and being a 'princess'. She and her three friends are also witches - they cultivate paganism.

            One day Addie and Jack have an argument. He gets drunk and walks around, finally ending up nearby the woods and cemetery where Gillian Duncan and her friends are celebrating Beltane (a Pagan feast).

            A couple of hours later, Gilly is found hysterical and sobbing, she claims that Jack has raped her. All the physical evidence matches: his blood on her shirt, his skin under her nails and finally - his semen on her thigh...

            But Jack claims his has not done it. Will he be acquitted? Will Addie stand by his side or will she leave him?

            It seems to me that 'Salem Falls' doesn't pose so many difficult questions and isn't dealing with any moral dilemmas directly. However, it makes you wonder whether the system is really working the way it should because in my opinion, it is protecting only the victim which isn't always fair.

            I must say that compared to Picoult's other books, this one didn't have so many surprising turnings - or maybe I got used to her style of writing and sort of expected some things to happen (and they did!). However, the story is extremely gripping and I found it really hard to put the book down. I kept on reading until late in the night because I just couldn't stop.

            The language was relatively easy and like all other Picoult's books, this one is based in New Hampshire.

            I strongly recommend this book to any Jodi Picoult's fans, I think that this one is one of the most interesting books she has written.

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              13.03.2010 10:55
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              A great story of a modern day witch hunt in salem falls!

              After serving eight months in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a young student in his care, Jack St Bride is trying to rebuild his life. Wanting to start over somewhere where they don't know his name Jack settles on the sleepy looking town of Salem Falls.

              Little does he know that his arrival stirs up a hornets nest of activity with the local residents and upon finding out who their new neighbour is and what has happened in his past they make assumptions instead of establishing facts and decide to show Jack just how unwelcome he is as a part of the Salem Falls community.

              That is with the exception of a few, including the owner of the local diner Addie Peabody who despite what she learns about Jack, develops feelings for her new employee beyond those of friendship and tentatively the two begin a relationship, which despite originally being behind closed doors grows more serious and Addie finds herself falling for St Bride, even opening up to him about some of the horrors of her past.

              Jack also begins to get some rather more unwanted attention from a crowd of young girls who unbeknownst to Jack are practicing Wiccan magic, led by the beautiful Gillian Duncan, daughter of the most powerful and rich man in Salem Falls Amos Duncan. Amos Duncan is the owner of the local pharmaceutical company and one of the men most intent on getting St Bride out of Salem falls and away from his daughter.

              One night after an argument with Addie, Jack hits the local bar where he drowns his sorrow with more than one glass of Whiskey before stumbling home in the early hours, this is when his whole new life begins to crumble around him when he is arrested and charged with the rape of young Gillian Duncan. This couldn't be happening to him again could it? Surely once is just unlucky. But twice? Even he could see how it would be hard to believe he wasn't guilty this time, even though in his heart he knows he's as innocent now as he was back in Loyal!

              Is this going to the end of Jack St Bride and his new life in Salem Falls? Will he be the victim of a much more modern day witch hunt? Or is the finger pointing at the wrong witch?!

              I have always been a fan of Jodi Picoult, although I find some books a lot better than others, but Salem Falls has to be one of my favourites. Picoult always picks challenging subjects which sometimes make you wonder where she gets her storylines from. The subject of sexual assault of minors, especially looking at it from the side of the accused party rather than the young girls is a very sensitive subject, but I thought Picoult handled it very well.

              I found myself second guessing myself throughout the story, especially in the trial scenes, I never knew what the outcome would be, although I knew what it should be, Picoult does keep you guessing with the way she talks through the courtroom scenes.

              As someone who has researched Wicca and it's beliefs for a school project many years ago I liked the fact that Picoult too had done her research into this area of the novel and had gathered facts that were true of the religion rather than a random mix of hocus pocus. But as well as showing the good sides of the religion, it also shows that Wicca is not something to mess with.

              The twist to the end of the story was something I didn't read into at all during the story and something that I think added an extra dimension to the story and made you empathise a little bit more with characters you may have previously disliked.

              All in all one of Picoult's best novels, one with enough drama to keep you engrossed from start to finish and make you questions even yourself at times. A great holiday read.

              Prices from £4.95 new on amazon

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                10.02.2010 14:28
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                When I first picked this book up it was because I'd only just become an avid reader of Jodi Picoult. Fast forward a few years and it is probably one of my favourites. I find that when she writes a book which isn't to my tastes it can put me off of her for a while but generally speaking it's usually this one which sets me back into liking her again.

                Jodi Picoult has written many a book and is probably more well known thanks to the film adaption of her novel My Sisters Keeper. She first wrote Salem Falls in 2001 and it has earned itself a most deserved amount of praise along with a few awards as well.

                Set in Salem Falls, in New Hampshire, Jack St. Bride stumbles unexpectantly into the lives of a small time diner. After serving an 8 month sentence due to being advised to plead guilty he wishes to rid himself of his past and start a fresh. He has already lost his career, friends and reputation all down to an allegation of having an inappropriate relationship with one of his students.

                He manages to keep his head down working as a dishwasher but to no avail when his past catches up with him. Word gets round about this apparent rape that he was convicted of and soon everyone is out to get him. Except that is, the local daughter of Amos Duncan, the most well known and probably wealthiest businessman in Salem Falls. A harmless crush you might think, although it all proves to be a lot more sinister when you find out that she is involved with a few other teenage girls in the art of witchcraft. Generally the spells they cast seem to be harmless but on a night when Jack is feeling slightly down beaten an advantage is taken leaving Jack in a situation which is all too familiar.

                This book flickers backwards and forwards so you get to see how Jacks first conviction came about. With a deep insight into what things he could of done differently to of avoided the situation happening in the first place. You get the impression that he is wary of the teenagers which come into the diner, naturally a characteristic which he would be having. He appears to of lost all confidence in himself and maybe that is why he becomes romantically involved with the co owner of the diner.

                Addie is not the most outgoing of people and is resilient in that she should continue working in the diner despite the fact that others are certain she could be doing more with her life. The arrival of Jack certainly makes her personality come to life yet she too has a past. Although it isn't mentioned much it has obviously left an impact on her. Making her untrusting towards certain people. When his past life gets brought to her attention it is what she has suffered that gives her strength in if she should believe his protestations.

                Naturally with a Jodi Picoult novel you have the lawyer with the struggling personal life. Jordan initially moved to Salem Falls as he figured it would be a quiet place to live after dealing with several high profile cases. Living with his son who in a roundabout way helps with the case, he uses the aid of his girlfriend to try and find out what truely happened that night in the woods. Where there seems to be a lot of unexplained gaps in the statements as to what occurred.

                Overall I think this a really good read. It still includes the Picoult twist at the end which I admit I had no idea about. Making me clearly a bit dim because when I first mentioned the fact that I hadn't expected it others were claiming that it had been obvious all along. I don't think this is the easiest of reads especially if you haven't read one of her books beforehand. There are sections in the trial which drag on for what seems like ages. Mentions of DNA tables and samples. I know that it has to be mentioned it just would of be nice if these areas could of been shortened a little.

                A lot of detail when into the characters emotions. Guilt, jealousy, love, anger, happy, sad. It seemed that Picoult didn't want to skip any sort of feeling which might exist. There isn't a good deal of laughs thoughout as this does have a serious theme however I think that if you want a thought provoking novel then this could be something you'd enjoy.

                You can buy it from WHSmiths for £6.99 or on Amazon for £4.97. A very worthwhile book and one that any Picoult fan should own.

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                  29.11.2009 19:32
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                  Really Makes You Think

                  Jodi Picoult is probably most famous for the book and film, My Sister's Keeper which I have read and loved. This started me reading any of her books I could find. Salem Falls is the most recent one I have read and I have enjoyed this one as much as the rest.

                  All of Picoult's books have a really interesting story which really makes you think about what you would do in the same situation.

                  This book centres around a male teacher called Jack who was jailed for the alleged sexual encounter with a student. He has now been released and is trying to start over in a small town. He gets a job in a diner and falls in love with the owner. They try to start a relationship only to find that Jack's past is starting to haunt their future.

                  The paperback book is 514 pages long and retails at £6.99, although I have seen copies on ebay and at car boot sales a lot cheaper.

                  The bit on the back reads....

                  Jack St Bride was once a beloved teacher at a private girls school - until a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his career and reputation. After a devastatingly public ordeal that left him with an eight month jail sentence and no job, Jack resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. He takes a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody's diner in the quiet New England town of Salem Falls and slowly starts to form a relationship with her.

                  But a quartet of teenage girls harbour dark secrets - and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the centre of a modern day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of grey, and to the women who has come to love him.

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                    08.10.2009 16:19
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                    and easy summer read

                    All my friends raves about Jodi Picoult and i had yet to read one of her books, so when going on holiday recently i decided to pick up one of her novels as part of my holiday reading. having looked at several in the book store i decided upon Salem Falls.

                    Salem Falls is the story of Jack St Bride, a former teacher who is wrongly accused and charged with rape against a minor (one of his students), he ends up in prison for 8 months and the book starts as he is released. He ends up settling in a small town called Salem Falls and working as a dishwasher in a diner, keeping his head down and out of trouble he still manages to attract trouble from the towns folk who find out what he has done and froma group of teaange girls who fancy themselves as witches. The almost as history repeats itself he is accused of raping one of the wealthiest towns folk's daughter (who is also one of the witches). The trial and courtroom drama ensues and provides for a fast paced and entertaining read.

                    I enjoyed the book, it was a good holiday read and the characters were well written and drew you in to the story. This would make me read more of Jodi Picoult's book - next problem is which one to choose!

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                      29.06.2009 12:24
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                      absolutely fantastic - I recommend you buy this book!

                      Well having just finished this book I can safely say Jodi Picoult has still yet to disappoint me. I have been an avid fan since reading a review of my sister's keeper back in 2005, and so far I haven't looked back as her books are the best I have ever read. They are all about factious moral dilemmas, and she takes every characters viewpoint in the books to give all sides to the same story. This is a brilliant author who researches every point of the court, police procedures, jailhouses and any type of evidence collected to make her books seem real - she has friends on hand that help her understand procedures in place to help you gain a sense of reality that this book could have been a real life story. The details are realistic and amazingly accurate - however some of the terms in her books can be difficult to understand need some further concentration if for example you aren't a biologist or forensic expert.

                      *Salem falls*
                      Jack St Bride has stumbled upon quiet Salem Falls after serving an eight month sentence in jail for taking a plea bargain on sexual assault. He swears he's innocent and was pushed into taking the plea bargain as his lawyer told him it would be the shortest sentence he could have, get out of jail and then live his life again. He used to be a history teacher, and it was his student Catherine that came up with the sexual assault charges against him.

                      When he gets to Salem falls, he starts working at the do-or-diner as a dishwasher - a far cry from his old life back in Loyal but he's happy all the same. However this time round, he falls in love with Addie, a woman who lost her child to meningitis almost a decade ago. Everyone has ghosts in their closets, and Addie especially. However one evening after a fight with each other, jack goes out drinking and stumbles upon a group of four young witches in the forest celebrating Beltane, the witches festival for love, sex and rituals. Gillian, the daughter of a wealthy townsman claims that she was raped by jack St bride and so the nightmare begins again for jack, however this time his lawyer Jordan listens to him, but does a defence lawyer believe his client?

                      This book explores how love can be lost and then found elsewhere again, overcoming separation and heartache. It explores trust within love, and how to gain or lose it. It explores that everyone has secrets and ghosts hidden but what will we do to keep those memories and secrets locked in Pandora's box. You as a reader have to make a decision - bad things don't happen to good people and those with a higher belief in a just world with think immediately he is guilty - lightning can't strike twice in the same place surely? There is no way that a miscarriage of justice can occur twice to the same man without there being some smoke to a fire. This book will enrapture your hearts and test out the moral issues within the book, and let you make up your own mind as to who is guilty and who is not, whilst putting yourselves in every characters shoes, making you feel what they feel.

                      This book is fantastic, with some amazing quotes along the way which grabs your attention. And the constantly changing between different characters constantly changes your perspective of the situations on hand. I recommend this book to everyone to read as it is truly magic, however it isn't my top Jodi Picoult book to date.

                      *Quotes*
                      'A shield that covered his heart but had not been able to protect it'
                      'Thinking all the while of Pandora's box: of what he had let loose by breaching the seal of this room, and of hope, which might still have been trapped inside'
                      'What Addie didn't understand was that you couldn't make up 4 what you had lost'
                      '...And gently fit themselves together. Addie thought he fills me whilst jack thought this is what i have been missing'

                      Overall, this book is a fab ten out of ten for everything - the situation, the writing of the book, the quotes, the twists and turns - it really is completely entrapping and it's a book that you will find hard to put down.

                      Where to buy: any good bookshop or online I think eBay sells them for 1p so grab it while you can!

                      Angiebabyqueen copyright 2009

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                        17.05.2009 18:07
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                        ideal holiday read

                        I borrowed this book from the library after reading another of Jodi'd books "My Sister's Keeper" whihc I saw on Richard & Judy. I enjoyed that book so was on the look out for another title by the same author. The book is quite lengthy, but I found it hard to put down and does keep you entertained all the way through, so it might not take you that long to finish it. I enjoyed how the story moves from the past to the present and back again. Jack St. Bride the main character is someone that readers may not automatically relate to but he does grow on you as a character and by the end of the book you really want his story to have a happy ending. There are quite a few themes throughout the book, rape, the justice system, prejudices, smal town ideas and these are woven together really well by the author. The only let down I experienced whilst reading this was that the court scenes at the end of the novel seemed to last a little bit too long, but that might be because you just want to know what the outcome will be. I would recommend this book to women of all ages with an interest in modern day society and justice. It would be an ideal holiday read as it is easy to follow with not too many characters.

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                          24.02.2009 20:30
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                          An issues based tale which will get you thinking

                          'Several miles into his journey, Jack St Bride decided to give up his former life.' In this way the first sentence of the book introduces you to a key character who is trying to distance himself from a false conviction that caused him to spend ten months in jail. By sharing Jack's first few moments of freedom with us, and his bewildered reaction to it, Picoult tries to create sympathy for this character early on. This is important since readers do not find out what actually happened between Jack and his accuser until much later in the book, leaving room for a margin of doubt.

                          Unable to leave his past behind him, thanks to a mean police officer, Jack soon finds himself subject to another false allegation and feeling the full wrath of Salem Falls. The name of the town creates associations with the witch trials of 1692 but, ironically, the witches in this instance are leading the witch hunt against Jack. The reader is aware of the girls' dubious behaviour and this involves you in the novel when characters are slow to discover key exculpatory evidence. Furthermore, until very late on in the novel, we do not learn exactly what did happen that night, although we can suspect much of it. This means that, like Adie, Jack's new love, we have to trust Jack to believe in his innocence.

                          Altogether then, after the initial explanatory chapters which seem to introduce far too many characters to keep track of, this is a strong plot. The false accusation is balanced by the treatment of another character to allow Picoult to represent a balanced account of how rape affects women and how false accusations of it affect men. However, by the end of the novel it seems that there is not a truly good person anywhere in Salem, as numerous characters are revealed to have suffered from or inflicted sexual assaults on others. It seems strange that in this dark world, Picoult's characters are so ready to trust again and forgive so easily.

                          There are some clunking similes, a few unbelievable incidents and the main characters fall in love amazingly swiftly, but overall the writing is fluent, the plot interesting and the use of several characters' perspectives engages the reader in events. The characters are flawed, making them believable and intriguing. The ending is both predictable and shocking, raising interesting questions about how women who lie about sexual assaults should be treated. This is definitely worth a read and will leave you considering how these kinds of cases should be treated to be fair to victims - both the truly abused and the falsely accused.

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                            18.02.2009 14:03
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                            A really good read.

                            When ex teacher Jack St Bride is released from prison after serving a sentence for raping a schoolgirl he is homeless and penniless. He ends up in the sleepy little town of Salem Falls and is offered a job in Addie's diner and tries to put his past behind him and build a new life.

                            Addie Peabody has a few skeletons in her closet of her own. She lives a solitary life following the death of her only daughter; her life consists of running her diner and keeping tabs on her widowed alcoholic father. She is curious about this stranger who is obviously well educated, what has led him to washing dishes for minimum wage? The pair soon become lovers and Addie is shocked to hear about Jacks past but believes him when he explains that the rape conviction is false and he only pled guilty on his lawyers advice to get a short sentence.

                            Gillian Duncan is the most popular girl in town, her father runs a pharmaceutical firm and she is used to getting what she wants when she wants it. She and her friends are warned to stay away from Jack but can't resist flirting with danger by going to the diner to watch him work.

                            The townsfolk of Salem Falls are not happy to have a convicted rapist in their midst and try to run Jack out of town fearing that their own daughters will be his next victim. One night the worst does happen, a sobbing Gillian Duncan is discovered by the edge of the woods with her clothes dishevelled and sporting bruises and scratches. Forensic testing shows that Jacks DNA is found underneath her fingertips and semen is found on her thigh. Jack swears he is innocent but is so drunk he can't fully remember the events of that night. Has Jacks true nature been revealed or are there other more sinister forces at work in Salem Falls?

                            This is the second of Jodi Picoult's books I've read and this book was a real page turner. I initially found it quite difficult to get into the story as it jumped between different threads of the story in different paragraphs but once I got into it I couldn't put it down.

                            Rape is always going to be an emotive issue to write about and I found the handling of the subject to be done mostly sensitively. The fact that they talked about false allegations was balanced with one of the characters being a real rape victim. It makes you wonder if laws like Megan's Law in the USA or Sarah's Law in the UK are a good idea. On one hand I'd want to know if a sex offender was living in my neighbourhood but on the other vigilantes mean that men like Jack who are falsely accused of rape can have their lives ruined.

                            What I didn't like about the book was the treatment of paganism. It emerges that Gillian and her friends have been dabbling in witchcraft, buying herbs to cast spells and dance around the woods naked jumping over fires to celebrate Beltane. I found this to be inaccurate and sensational; I have a good friend who is a practicing pagan and on all of the major festivals she sends all her friends a greeting explaining the significance of the celebrations and her faith is certainly nothing like the paganism in the book. I also attended a celebration of the Winter Solstice with her and it was an amazingly peaceful evening and while we took the dog for a walk in the woods no bonfires were lit and we kept all of our clothes on! I'll admit she can be a little kooky at times for example advising me to stop my daughter's medication for her kidney disease and having her drink herbal infusions instead but I don't like it when pagans are made out to be total weirdoes.

                            I found the story and the characters were well formed but there were a couple of sub plots which were a bit superfluous. The book delved right into the characters past letting you knows what made them tick and understand their viewpoints a bit better.

                            I really enjoyed Salem Falls despite its flaws and am looking for the other Jodi Picoult books I have not yet read. I woke up during the night and decided to read a couple of chapters as I couldn't get back to sleep and ended up having to force myself to put the book down two hours later leaving me even more bleary eyed than usual in the morning! It's a really good book that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next.

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                              01.08.2008 22:55
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                              Never, I repeat NEVER, will I read anything by Jodi Picoult again. I swear it this time.

                              I had not been impressed with My Sisters Keeper but decided to give Jodi Picoult another try when I saw Salem Falls in my local library. The title of the book was what first drew me in because I have an interest in the very real Salem witch trials and according to the blurb on the back this was going to be a modern-day witch hunt so it seemed more in keeping with my interests than the other Picoult novels I've looked at.

                              Now, I know Jodi Picoult has a fan base who await her latest offering with baited breath but unfortunately I'm not one of them and after reading this tosh for 472 pages I can tell you now I'll not be reading another one!

                              Salem Falls centres around a man called Jack St Bride. Jack is a teacher who was wrongly convicted of statutory rape and has just finished his eight month prison sentence, he desperately needs a fresh start so travels in a taxi until he spots a town he fancies moving to. He lands up in Salem Falls where on the spur of the moment he acquires both a dishwashers job in the diner and a love affair with the lady who owns it.

                              Not long goes by when the community is alerted to the fact that Jack St Bride has put his name on the sex offenders register and suddenly he is the outcast with the whole town calling for him to be run out. He is shunned and beaten and then the clanger; a 16 year old girl, daughter of the richest and most influential man in town, claims Jack has raped her. Once again Jack has to prove his innocence despite the fact that so many people are understandably on the side of the rape victim.

                              As a brief synopsis this sounds like a good basis for a book, doesn't it? However, I think this book could easily have been 100 or perhaps even 150 pages shorter if Picoult hadn't pumped it full of so many tricks to try and shock the reader. Not only is rape, vigilantism and a miscarriage of justice involved in the story but to tenuously link it to the witch trials of the late 1600's the rape victim is a member of a coven of four young girls' who are witches. Yes, witches.

                              I do not think the rape story was sensitively handled at all, I had the impression that Jodi Picoult has done a lot of research into how rape victims, and indeed rapists, behave and act and she has then done a Dan Brown and slotted all these facts and figures into the story without giving them much of a human element.

                              The characters are all very one dimensional in my opinion and even though I did feel a twinge of sympathy for Jack as he battled to prove he had not raped this girl, I was not overcome with anger at the possibility of another miscarriage of justice as I should have been. The woman who Jack fell in love with, Addie Peabody, is definitely damaged goods. Raped herself as a teenager, her beloved child (the product of that rape) died of meningitis when she was eight years old. This, for me, would have made her the character I would have liked to have sympathised with as she struggled with deciding whether to support or alienate Jack. However, for some reason Picoult decided to portray her as a complete nutcase who not only kept her daughters bedroom as a shrine but also cooked and served her a meal every day at the same seat in the diner. Then she'd punctuate Addie's personal thoughts with comments like 'The whole town knows I'm crazy' and I thought that was an absolute insult to anyone who has struggled to get over losing a child.

                              All of the other characters seem to drift in and out of the story at convenient, for the author, points throughout the novel including the rape victim herself! Gillian Duncan is the girl who claimed Jack raped her and to be perfectly honest if she wasn't from such an influential family then I don't think anyone would have believed her full-of-holes story. The readers are already aware that Jack did not rape this girl and I think that because of this Picoult has no excuse not to make Gillians story as far fetched and bordering on the ridiculous as possible, after all this is not a whodunnit or a thriller of any kind so there was no reason to make her story add up because we already know that the crime did not occur at all.

                              And then there is the glaring weirdness in Salem Falls. The contrived little comments that are scattered throughout the book that again could have come directly from Wikipedia. The one which sticks in my mind was following Jacks release from prison. We get a heartfelt look at how much older he looks, how his clothes no longer fit him (too loose as he has lost so much weight) and then Jack hails a taxi and stands looking dumbfounded at the door. "And then he remembered that in the outside world, no-one had to unlock a door before he entered." The man had only been incarcerated for eight months, I've been in hospital for longer than that but didn't forget how to take a paracetamol without someone reminding me! This actually made me howl with laughter at how a book trying to be so serious could be so ridiculously funny.

                              For me there was no tension in the book, which I was surprised about considering the subject matter. I could feel very little sympathy for either the rape victim or the man falsely accused, the one character I did feel sorry for was one of the teen witches who in her heart of hearts knew that the lie against Jack St Bride was an evil thing but was bullied into keeping her silence. I was waiting for the trial to begin thinking I'd get some much needed drama but there was not a bit of it, I don't think Jodi Picoult has ever actually set foot in a courtroom because her descriptions of the American way of justice did not ring true to me at all. And yes, I have witnessed a trial in a US courtroom and believe me a defence witness would certainly not have been allowed to bring in muffins and sandwiches for the jury and judge! A bizarre addition the the story, Picoult was probably trying to lighten the story but it was fluffy and light enough without the muffins!

                              I read the whole book despite the fact that it was silly, boring and very insulting to my intelligence. I cannot think what it would possibly be classed as. Salem Falls isn't exactly chick lit although fans of this genre would probably enjoy it, it's not a thriller, it's not a tale of witchcraft, it's not a courtroom drama. Plain and simple it's just a not terribly imaginative author trying to jump on the bandwagon of real life misery books - and failing.

                              If you would like to read Salem Falls you can get a copy from your local library or you Jodi Picoult fans will probably want to own your own copy so I've checked on Amazon and you can buy a paperback copy for £5.54.

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                            • Product Details

                              The book follows the story of Jack St Bride, previously a teacher who has been wrongfully convicted of sleeping with one of his pupils. It follows him trying to start a new life and love after prison untill inevitably things start to go wrong and an intriguing courtroom drama follows. The lawyer as always has a relationship, and this book sees the return of Jordan McAfee, previously in the Pact. His relationship with his son and with his partner are both excellently written and enhance the story even more. The main plots revolve around rape and witchcraft but the book also deals with themes such as the loss of a loved one.