Synopses & Reviews
Before the sweet delight of Chocolat
, before the heady concoction that is Blackberry Wine
, and before the tart pleasures of Five Quarters of the Orange
, bestselling author Joanne Harris wrote Sleep, Pale Sister
a gothic tourde-force that recalls the powerfully dark sensibility of her novel Holy Fools.
Originally published in 1994 and never before available in the United States Sleep, Pale Sister is a hypnotically atmospheric story set in nineteenth century London. When puritanical artist Henry Chester sees delicate child beauty Effie, he makes her his favorite model and, before long, his bride. But Henry, volatile and repressed, is in love with an ideal. Passive, docile, and asexual, the woman he projects onto Effie is far from the woman she really is. And when Effie begins to discover the murderous depths of Henry's hypocrisy, her latent passion will rise to the surface.
Sleep, Pale Sister combines the ethereal beauty of a Pre-Raphaelite painting with a chilling high gothic tale and is a testament to Harris's brimming cornucopia of talents.
"In the first American release of her 1994 second novel, Chocolat, author Harris dives headlong into a ferocious Gothic ghost story. Henry Chester, the son of a stern Oxford minister and his unapproachable wife, develops an unhealthy interest in virginal young girls and a chloral habit after a life-altering experience during puberty. A gentleman artist of independent means, he disguises his unsavory sexual preference in his painting, frequenting lower class neighborhoods in search of models. On one trip, he encounters the hauntingly beautiful, fatherless Effie .She spends more and more time with Henry as model and protégé, and, despite a 23-year age difference, they marry when she's 17. Soon Effie becomes pregnant then miscarries. Though Henry keeps her drugged with laudanum, Effie eventually falls for Moses Harper, a rival painter and ne'er-do-well. Harper in turn introduces her to Fanny Miller, the occultist madam of a brothel that Henry frequents; she mothers the fragile Effie, and this trio cultivates a scheme to deal the despicable Henry a loaded hand. The pages fly by through multiple plot twists in a wash of drugs, ghosts and illicit sex in a tale that easily ranks among the best of the genre." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Dark and haunting . . . will resonate with both gothic romance readers and fans of [Harriss] later work.” Library Journal
About the Author
Joanne Harris is the author of seven previous novels—Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Sleep, Pale Sister, and Gentlemen & Players; a short story collection, Jigs & Reels; and two cookbook/memoirs, My French Kitchen and The French Market. Half French and half British, she lives in England.