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And Then She Fell

A Novel

by Alicia Elliott

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott X
And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott
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  • Published Sep 2023
    368 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Cloggie Downunder

a cleverly written, interesting and thought-provoking read.
And Then She Fell is the first novel by award-winning, best-selling Canadian Mohawk editor and author, Alicia Elliott. At twenty-six, Haudenosaunee woman Alice Dostator is married to Steve Macdonald, a white man, has a six-week-old daughter, Dawn, is living off reservation in the city of Toronto, and is still grieving the loss of her mother, when she once again begins hearing voices. It’s not the first time, but as a teen, she blocked them out with alcohol and pot.

Now, she’s having difficulty connecting with her baby, is getting very little sleep, and is expected to behave in a manner that makes her an asset to Steve’s attempt to get tenure in the anthropology department. She’s getting nowhere with her writing, a retelling of the Haudenosaunee Creation Story that she now regrets telling Steve about, regrets telling anyone about.

What she’s hearing, and seeing, has her worried: her mom said her grandma was crazy; but her Aunt Rachel assures her that Grandma was a medicine woman, spoke to spirits and saw the future. And this respected elder said that Alice has the gifts to see what others can’t. Her cousin Tanya talks about portals and gatekeepers, and the voices are telling her it’s important to complete her writing, although other voices aren’t so positive.

It's quickly clear from her auditory and visual hallucinations, her out-of-body experiences, her delusions, and her paranoia, that Alice is not a reliable narrator. She second-guesses her own thoughts and reactions, is increasingly unsure whom she can trust, and feels the need to keep her thoughts secret even from those closest to her. Or is what she’s seeing, hearing and feeling, real?

Elliott’s depiction of post-partum mental illness is highly credible and, informed as it is by her own experience, brims with authenticity. The novel explores white attitudes to Natives, the racism that is often unconscious or unintentional, motherhood, and Mohawk myth and legend. While more likely to resonate with Canadian readers, this is a cleverly written, interesting and thought-provoking read.

This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Allen & Unwin.
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