Thought-provoking and heartrending, The Falling Woman resonates long after the book has closed and is a collection to read again and again.
Shaena Lambert’s remarkable debut short story collection, part of our new Vintage Tales series, examines the universal themes of love, loss and healing. All ten stories, whether they are set in the dry, sage-covered hills of the Okanagan or on the serenely polluted shores of Lake Ontario, are linked thematically by an archetypal icon: the falling woman. She rushes through the air upside down, transformed by what she has seen, or is about to recognize. Never quite fallen — always in transition — she insists on plunging into the forbidden: marching down Main Street topless; seducing married men; exploring the shadowy losses that predate her birth but still manage to stamp her being.
Shaena Lambert’s perceptive eye and flair for evocative and sensual prose bring the under-surface of relationships — between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives — to brilliant light.
Shaena Lambert’s poetry and short stories have appeared in many of Canada’s most prestigious literary magazines, including Descant, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire and Prism International. Her story “The Falling Woman” appeared in the 1995 Journey Prize Anthology and was shortlisted for the CBC/Saturday Night short fiction contest. She lives in Vancouver.
"In Shaena Lambert’s fluent début, the closely observed details of dailyness sometimes enrich traditionally realistic stories while at other times they mix neatly with elements of the fantastic and the outlandish. The Falling Woman is generously varied in its range of stories, images, themes, styles – I kept reading sentences to myself aloud – and also in its cast and characterizations, which may be what Lambert does best of all. " — Steven Heighton, author of The Shadow Boxer
"Like Alice Munro's work, Lambert's stories showcase intelligent women with complex inner lives negotiating the intricacies of relationships with lovers, children, and parents ... Lambert's voice is entirely her own ... It is a poet's voice, sensual and evocative .. There are genuine emotions, striking images, and well-wrought wisdom here. The Falling Woman is an excellent debut." — Quill & Quire, March 2002
“What an exhilarating pleasure it is to open a first book of fiction and feel that you've returned to the source, that here before you, amid all the commendable, promising, earnest or quirky, really quite good or utterly underwhelming first steps of countless budding authors, lovingly mentored, carefully or hastily edited, placed between handsome or salacious covers…. I'll simplify: Among all the serviceable, sometimes glittering plate, appears Vancouver writer Shaena Lambert, a rare gift of sterling…. The Muse is plying her work in these stories; that, or perhaps the living spirits of Alice Munro and Annie Proulx have plumed and mingled in the ether and spawned a hybrid miniaturist (Proulx's stories being her truest art) who has the potential, realized here in scintillant flashes, to rival them both…. [O]utstanding and often brilliant -- in their gimlet-eyed observation, their bursts or nuances of insight, and their seamless conjoining of form and content." -- The Globe and Mail, Feb. 2002
“Shaena Lambert’s The Falling Woman is a marvelous first story collection with nothing green or fledgling about it…. her debut collection is remarkable for its mature craft, polished material and dark vision…. The stories here are sometimes unsettling, but always thought-provoking. Lambert’s writing is packed with “significances” … She forces the reader to grapple for underlying meanings, and they are not usually simple or reducible. Lambert’s intelligent, carefully wrought debut collection has been a long time in the making, and shows it. Now, if there is any justice, may it bring her overnight success.” -- The Toronto Star, Mar. 2002
“The stories are remarkable … for the extent to which the characters come alive…. All of the stories are told in a clear, understated prose that never hits a false note. Lambert’s stories are notable as well for the extent to which they bring alive their place, their locale. I would like to see stories like these taught in our high schools…. We are producing a literature in this country that is second to none in the world…. In Shaena Lambert, we have a writer with the ability to layer experience so that one layer subtly comments on another, a writer with Alice Munro’s understanding of the human heart and with Yann Martel’s gift for inhabiting the hearts and minds of vastly different characters. Lambert’s metaphors are organic to her stories and they rsonate long after the reader has closed the book. Canadian literary fiction is thriving. We have every reason to be … proud of our writers…." -- The Hamilton Spectator, Mar. 2002
"Shaena Lambert’s The Falling Woman has yielded but one criticism of her astute and assured debut -- it’s too short. The 10 stories break your heart without malice, surprise with their elegance and provide an auspicious entrée to what appears to be a significant new voice in Canadian fiction…. Lambert brushes her sentences on the page with an unwavering poise, slowly layering in depth, complexity and colour to build her stories…. Solid writing, though, remains only the foundation of excellent short fiction, for the form also demands vision, meaning and a story. Lambert's work possesses all of these." -- The Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 2002