Pat Murphy

Review: The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

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Title: The Falling Woman*

Author: Pat Murphy

Publication Date: 1986

Genre: Fantasy

Overview: When Diane’s father passes away, she reaches out to her estranged mother, Elizabeth, a renowned archaeologist on a dig in Mexico. Diane arrives at camp unannounced and not having seen her mother for over 15 years. Elizabeth is less than thrilled. The longer Diane stays, the more she worries that Elizabeth may be as crazy as her father claimed. Elizabeth walks for hours on end speaking in Mayan to figures only she sees. Maybe it’s the jungle or maybe crazy is catching, but Diane starts to see the ancient Mayans, too

Character Development: It was interesting to see how Elizabeth adapted to Diane’s presence, especially as the end drew closer and the Mayan presences began to threaten her. I thought Elizabeth grew into a more fully fleshed character at that point, willing to be vulnerable. Diane, I thought, was largely static, but showed some strength of character, particularly in the last third of the book.

Plot: The plot was slow-going and was, at times, lost in the descriptions of Mayan history. It wasn’t overwhelming, but Murphy did her homework and it showed, especially when it came to the calendar. The plot picked up a lot about two-thirds of the way through and the Mayans were an interesting and compelling presence. It was a bit sad to see the mother-daughter interplays and parallels.

The story did lean a bit on on the heavy-handed side with it’s lectures on cultural relativism (note: not moral relativism, per se). Murphy lightened up on it after a while, but it was present.

Rating: 3.5

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*There is a scheduled reprint upcoming and the review copy was obtained via prior to its release.