June Books 10) The Falling Woman

10) The Falling Woman, by Pat Murphy

The latest in my quest to finish reading all the winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. (Now only six left – Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin, A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg, The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick, The Terminal Experiment by Robert J Sawyer and Camouflage by Joe Haldeman.)

This is a very good book, one of those rare but welcome moments when the Nebula process picked up on a real gem of a novel that had been overlooked elsewhere, even though it is only barely a genre novel, if anything more of a ghost story than sf or fantasy. The plot concerns an estranged mother and daughter, the former a famous archaeologist working on a Mayan site in the Yucatan, the latter escaping from a set of bad relationships to track down her mother, and the mother’s ability to see the ghosts of the past (which has incidentally helped her get lucky with spectacular finds during her career). The writing alternates between first-person POV’s of the two women. The third character is a Mayan priestess buried on the site who attempts to project her own life experiences onto the modern women. The writing is gripping and convincing, and although several of the layers of significance are pretty explicit, it worked for me. I’m glad it worked for the 1987 Nebula voters too.

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