Winner of the San Diego Book Award prize for Best Novel in Progress
An unforgettable glimpse into the culture of Tibet, a moving account of religion and love, and a powerful debut by a talented new writer.
Tibet, 1954. The highest pass of the Himalayas is enveloped in silence save the flapping of prayer flags. Seven thousand feet below, two Americans travelling on foot arrive in the remote town of Shigatse, intending to make it their new home. Steeped in the Quaker tradition of pacifism and longing to live in a society that has embraced non-violence for centuries, Emma and Gerald Kittredge are soon happily adopted by their Tibetan neighbours, Dorje and Rinchen, and their small family. But the arrival of Maoist soldiers into their quiet life shatters everything. In the upheaval that follows, Gerald is captured, leaving a pregnant Emma facing an agonizing decision: whether to flee Tibet with her friends or stay and risk capture herself. Dorje and Rinchen’s family is also torn apart as one son struggles to find a peaceful solution to an increasingly impossible situation, and the other chooses a path of violence, breaking his monastic vows. Set in a region so breathtakingly beautiful it is believed to be the ceiling of the world, Falling to Heaven is an uplifting and extraordinary novel about faith: losing it and rediscovering it in places you’d never expect.
Jeanne Peterson is a clinical psychologist who worked for years with survivors of torture and communist re-education from all over Asia. In her free time she facilitates an advanced writing group in San Diego, where she lives with her two sons.
“This unusual novel is about faith, its loss and its regeneration.”
– Waterstone's Books Quarterly
"In this desperate tale of expatriates caught up in the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Jeanne Peterson captures the bitterness while keeping in touch with a more spiritual melancholy and a pulse of hope. One’s senses are flooded with tastes, smells and sounds that bring a very distant world and time to life."
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