She is a complex novel in poetry and prose poetry, crafted with visual form and eloquent language. Penelope-Marie Lancet, an immigrant from Trinidad who lives in Calgary, yearns for a child to the point of obsession. She sees a child as her salvation. Her fervour results in a false pregnancy and in her denial she forms a belief that the child has been spirited away from her. As she formulates and executes a plan to retrieve her child, her personality fragments to the point of disintegration.
Penelope's fixation begins with a tragedy that occurred when she was a little girl: her one-year-old sister lurched out of her arms and plunged to her death. Penelope never forgives herself and searches constantly for the "lost" baby that would make her whole. Hearing of a black baby adopted by a rich white couple, she concludes that this is her "stolen" child, and she steals him back. Little by little, her already fragile self fragments into at least six personalities, all of whom call their outwardly more composed manifestation "She." Each of these personalities is unique, each speaking in their own voice and dialect. Dealing with differing levels of awareness of one another, the diverse personalities seek to find their purpose within the whole as they write letters to Penelope's sister Jasmine, who lives in Trinidad. The more frenzied the letters become, the more they worry Jasmine. By the time Jasmine knocks on the door of Penelope's Calgary apartment, the discord among Penelope's different personalities becomes unbearable and her psyche unravels completely.
She is a collage that cuts across conventional boundaries and creates a visual form of poetry and prose. Claire Harris has created a brilliant amalgam of character and creativity.
"From academic English to various Caribbean dialects and patois, from ragged prose to surgically precise and playful verse, Harris displays startling versatility in both voice and form. Ambitious and pulled off with heartbreaking flair, She is a virtuioso performance from a player who has earned her place in the spotlight." — Quill & Quire
Pub date: May 1, 2000