When She Was Electric (Raincoast, 2003)
When She Was Electric is a layered, evocative first novel from a young writer. At its heart is a wrenching disruption–the disappearance of a young girl in a sleepy town in the 1930s.
Electric digs deep into the story of three generations of women: the enterprising grandmother who bought a rejected piece of land near an Indian Reserve; the daughters, ethereal Min and bold Nellie; and granddaughters Ana and Willa, who embody the hopes–and the secrets–of this matriarchy. MacPherson brilliantly reveals the hazy unreliability of memory, the fragility of life, and how a child’s death haunts a splintered town.
When She Was Electric is a delightful, poetic novel, set in the Nicolla Valley near Merritt, byAndrea MacPherson, another graduate of the UBC Writing Program. A granddaughter, Ana, tells stories of her mother, aunt and grandmother, beginning with her own birth in 1924. The grandmother’s land adjoins an Indian reserve, and being ahead of their time in terms of both independence and tolerance, both sisters have involvements with men of the reserve, and later Ana also involves herself with an indian boy. The language is beautiful and the complicated emotions of three generations of women are delicately portrayed.W. P. Kinsella
Spare, elegant. . . . [MacPherson’s] assured, sensual debut reveals much about the secrets women keep and the hidden desires that propel us to action and stop us in our tracks.