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Sleep, Pale Sister

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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 Unit 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. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.


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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 Unit 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. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

30 review for Sleep, Pale Sister

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Hmmm. I struggled with this a bit because I generally adore Joanne Harris. This is her "lost" second novel, and while it is certainly an improvement on her first novel, the dire " The Evil Seed", it doesn't quite live up to her later work. It is a bit of a grim tale. Painter Henry Chester becomes obsessed with his child-model and marries her as soon as she comes of each. Once wed he finds she doesnt live up to his ideals and the couple quickly grow to despise each other. Throw in an affair or tw Hmmm. I struggled with this a bit because I generally adore Joanne Harris. This is her "lost" second novel, and while it is certainly an improvement on her first novel, the dire " The Evil Seed", it doesn't quite live up to her later work. It is a bit of a grim tale. Painter Henry Chester becomes obsessed with his child-model and marries her as soon as she comes of each. Once wed he finds she doesnt live up to his ideals and the couple quickly grow to despise each other. Throw in an affair or two, a local prostitute and Henry's obsession with young girls and it is a bit seedy for my tastes. The other issue is it is just too long. Joanne Harris herself said it could have benefited from some better editing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Snow White

    I couldn't get into this one. Harris plays with her usual theme of asceticism versus carnality but it's too obvious here. The characters know themselves and their motives too well and are constantly explaining this to the reader instead of letting the reader draw their own conclusions. I could've done without the two male pov's as well. I despised them both but not in a good way: I hated reading their thoughts. It should've been Effie's pov the whole book. The atmosphere was off and so were the I couldn't get into this one. Harris plays with her usual theme of asceticism versus carnality but it's too obvious here. The characters know themselves and their motives too well and are constantly explaining this to the reader instead of letting the reader draw their own conclusions. I could've done without the two male pov's as well. I despised them both but not in a good way: I hated reading their thoughts. It should've been Effie's pov the whole book. The atmosphere was off and so were the characterisations. The language was correct but too weighty. Dnf at 40%

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    ‘Sleep Pale Sister’ is an early Joanne Harris novel and has a slightly unformed feeling in comparison to, say, Chocolat. It is a ghostly gothic melodrama, chiefly notable to my mind for the variations in character awareness of this. The two male narrators sometimes comment wryly that their lives resemble a gothic novel; at other times they forget it and are filled with such uncontrollable dread that they knock back laudanum until the situation improves. One of the female narrators, meanwhile, is ‘Sleep Pale Sister’ is an early Joanne Harris novel and has a slightly unformed feeling in comparison to, say, Chocolat. It is a ghostly gothic melodrama, chiefly notable to my mind for the variations in character awareness of this. The two male narrators sometimes comment wryly that their lives resemble a gothic novel; at other times they forget it and are filled with such uncontrollable dread that they knock back laudanum until the situation improves. One of the female narrators, meanwhile, is the one turning all those depicted into players in a ghostly gothic melodrama. To my mind she was by far the most interesting character, perhaps because she remained the most mysterious. The titular pale sister, Effie, was largely a pawn and thus pitiful. Both leading men, however, were absolutely hateful. Their cavalier attitude can be summed up as, ‘Well I wouldn’t say that murdering women was a hobby of mine, but it’s bound to happen now and again isn’t it.’ The atmosphere of the whole thing is certainly oppressive, although I wouldn’t call it frightening. The relatively slow pacing creates definite tension and I was intrigued to see how events would play out. Nonetheless, the inconsistent level of self-consciousness within the narrative prevented me from being swept away by it. While it does not read as a pastiche of gothic melodrama, with a few changes I think it could have. Perhaps that would have worked better for me? As it was, I liked the imagery and theme of the Furies (as well as the cats named after them!), yet found myself observing the characters more dispassionately than I’d expect for such a melodramatic book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This was actually the first of Joanne Harris' books that I've read, which strikes me as odd since I consider myself a fan. But I realized that that "fan" status is based solely on the viewing of the movie Chocolat (Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche) because the story was so wonderful. But that, of course, is absurd, because movies and their books are rarely more than representative of one another. Having said that, I had high hopes that stayed with me through about the first half of this book, at whi This was actually the first of Joanne Harris' books that I've read, which strikes me as odd since I consider myself a fan. But I realized that that "fan" status is based solely on the viewing of the movie Chocolat (Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche) because the story was so wonderful. But that, of course, is absurd, because movies and their books are rarely more than representative of one another. Having said that, I had high hopes that stayed with me through about the first half of this book, at which point I began thinking "I feel the ending is very close, what on earth are in the other 100-odd pages?" Turns out the denouement was all that was left, and even in retrospect I feel most of it could certainly have been left out. She lost sight of who the main character was and where the readers' interest lay. The multiple narrator approach might have made the reader engaged enough in the secondary characters to make us really that interested in their downfall, but it did not. And somehow even the mysterious and fascinating "gypsy" character was left behind from the middle of the book until almost the last chapter. All in all, this book had a very engaging tone and great possibility but needed a much heavier edit (Harris herself says that she edited it maybe not as much as it should have been before it was re-released) to realize it's potential.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tocotin

    Bought this book because the title sounded intriguing, and there was a promise of some of the story being set in a brothel. The beginning was really good, but then it became more and more predictable, then mystical in a very cheap way, and then simply boring. At one point I started to wonder if and how anything was going to happen, because the story seemed to be so close to the end, and there were still over 100 pages remaining. It tried very hard to be a VERY Gothic novel (the word "Gothic" was Bought this book because the title sounded intriguing, and there was a promise of some of the story being set in a brothel. The beginning was really good, but then it became more and more predictable, then mystical in a very cheap way, and then simply boring. At one point I started to wonder if and how anything was going to happen, because the story seemed to be so close to the end, and there were still over 100 pages remaining. It tried very hard to be a VERY Gothic novel (the word "Gothic" was frequently repeated), too hard actually. There were lots of props and circumstances gathered and piled to create an impression of oppression (lol) and fear and foreboding, but the characters themselves were so flat and one-dimensional I couldn't believe in any of them. A pale damsel, an evil hypocrite, a cynical rake (who wasn't cynical because he HAD to feel and fear the power of the wimmin, lol), a loyal servant, and a brothel madam who played God Almighty and neglected her establishment - ewww. I understand that this author is quite famous and has a big following, but... this book just lacks surprise and subtlety. It's a very fast read, however, and the style isn't bad, if a bit too movie-like.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ana Mardoll

    Sleep, Pale Sister / 9780061843181 "Sleep, Pale Sister" grabs you from the first page and never lets go. As you are dragged through the lives of a pale victim and her three persecutors, you are shown by turns the motivations and inner thoughts of her tormentors, by the compelling switches between narrative viewpoint. This is one of the hardest tricks to pull off in novels, yet Harris manages to make it look effortless. Each tormentor addresses themselves to us, explains their motives and urges th Sleep, Pale Sister / 9780061843181 "Sleep, Pale Sister" grabs you from the first page and never lets go. As you are dragged through the lives of a pale victim and her three persecutors, you are shown by turns the motivations and inner thoughts of her tormentors, by the compelling switches between narrative viewpoint. This is one of the hardest tricks to pull off in novels, yet Harris manages to make it look effortless. Each tormentor addresses themselves to us, explains their motives and urges that their view is the "right" one. As each villain "loves" our poor victim into the grave, we are touched with the deep sadness of the cruelties we can inflict on one another in our own deep selfishness. The tormentors are incredibly varied and intensely compelling: a husband who hates his wife for being human and who punishes her for her own good to remove the sin from her; a lover who hates his darling for being more than a trinket and who torments her to break her spirit and satisfy his own desires; and a distraught mother who is so anxious to see her dead daughter again that she will hypnotize, drug, and abuse a sweet stranger in an attempt to regain what she has lost. Deeper and darker than other Harris novels, "Sleep, Pale Sister" offers no hope - only a painful, terrifying look at how even the 'normal' amongst us can become so consumed with our own desires and pain that we become willing to inflict pain on innocent bystanders. I highly recommend this novel as a gripping, terrifying read. I should mention one thing: Harris seems to be working with a different Tarot tradition than the one I was taught, and it leads to some potential for confusion in the reading. She uses The Hermit to identify murderers and dark secrets, rather than as a card of withdrawal and meditation. The Hanging Man and Death are here regarded as bad omens, instead of as cards of change and growth. Most confusing of all is her use of The Star to indicate miscarriage and trauma, instead of as a card of spiritual healing. The fact that Harris uses a different interpretation of the Tarot did not in any way detract from the novel for me, but it is worth mentioning because I found the symbolism confusing on the first read-through. ~ Ana Mardoll

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annabel Joseph

    This book fit squarely into my super-love category. Mysterious, sensual, provocative, magical. On the cover a reviewer calls this book "a hauntingly evocative laudanum-dream of a novel" and I must say I agree completely. I have not read any of Ms. Harris's other books and I hesitate to, because this book seems to be a departure from her other type of work...and since I LOVE this book I imagine her other work might not work for me as well. But who knows? I might pick up Blackberry Wine. But I dig This book fit squarely into my super-love category. Mysterious, sensual, provocative, magical. On the cover a reviewer calls this book "a hauntingly evocative laudanum-dream of a novel" and I must say I agree completely. I have not read any of Ms. Harris's other books and I hesitate to, because this book seems to be a departure from her other type of work...and since I LOVE this book I imagine her other work might not work for me as well. But who knows? I might pick up Blackberry Wine. But I digress... I gave this book five stars because the voice of the author was so strong, and the ethereal dreamy weirdness of the book never faltered. It jitterbugged between four different narrators in chapters which were sometimes only a few pages long. Each voice was clearly recognizable, and each character was achingly damaged and seeking to escape past mistakes. At the beginning it was kind of hard to keep going, but it picked up in the middle and the web of deception and betrayal was cast. I just LOVE tragic, intense, mystical/magical stories like this one. The strange Victorian misogynist viewpoints were also fascinating to read. I really liked this book. It's probably not for everyone but it's definitely going onto my keeper shelf for when I want a really tragic, transporting story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    One of Joanne's first and 'lost' books which entices, shocks and lulls you into it's gripping clutches. Told in the different voices of the main characters we unravel the story of Henry Chester who has dark hidden secrets and his lovely, young wife Effie as they become seduced by dark shadowy characters and drugs into a world of blackmail and intrigue. Madness plays a big part in this novel, whether it has its roots in drugs, temperament, grief, lust or superstition but we definately see a spiral One of Joanne's first and 'lost' books which entices, shocks and lulls you into it's gripping clutches. Told in the different voices of the main characters we unravel the story of Henry Chester who has dark hidden secrets and his lovely, young wife Effie as they become seduced by dark shadowy characters and drugs into a world of blackmail and intrigue. Madness plays a big part in this novel, whether it has its roots in drugs, temperament, grief, lust or superstition but we definately see a spiral into a dark and dependant world by both Henry and Effie. It's quite a page turner even though there is no amibiguity about the ending, as the story goes on the reader knows what will happen but it's no less compelling or chilling for that and it leaves a certain sense of sadness behind for poor Effie. I really enjoyed it as Joanne Harris does have a way of getting into your head and making you question the characters. If you have read A Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Nieffergegger you will find a lot of similarities with the ghost theme and cemetries and ...well, I don't want to give the story away, but if you enjoyed one you'll probably enjoy the other!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Denise Mullins

    “Sleep, Pale Sister” is a campy gothic novel that ultimately suffers in its attempts to comingle too many themes that individually merited more serious development. We are introduced to uptight artist Henry Chester whose young ward Effie is groomed as his model until at 17, she is married to her much older benefactor. While Henry espouses puritanically repressed attitudes of sexuality, ostensibly meant to maintain Effie’s purity, his weekly sojourns to a nearby brothel reveal his hypocrisy and d “Sleep, Pale Sister” is a campy gothic novel that ultimately suffers in its attempts to comingle too many themes that individually merited more serious development. We are introduced to uptight artist Henry Chester whose young ward Effie is groomed as his model until at 17, she is married to her much older benefactor. While Henry espouses puritanically repressed attitudes of sexuality, ostensibly meant to maintain Effie’s purity, his weekly sojourns to a nearby brothel reveal his hypocrisy and debauched desires. As he furthers attempts to suppress his bride’s budding sexuality using threats prescribed by a smarmy psychoanalyst, she finds an outlet through the unsavory lothario Mose Harper. Although the plot at this point held promise, complications involving an alter ego figure of Effie became muddied as supernatural elements developed and destroyed the potential of her seductive darkness . The book does raise questions of Victorian society’s cruelty in regard to treatment of children and the control men exerted over their wives fearing diagnosis of hysteria, overdosing with laudanum, or confinement in asylums. I just wish these had been handled with the usual restraint and mastery that Joanne Harris used in her more recent novels.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cristine

    From what I've read of other reviews, every one dislikes this book. I have the opposite opinion. I love this book. I love the darkness of it and the intregue. There is that taste of the Victorian morbid love of death and disception. I love that time period in the art and the clothing, so this book was right up my alley, literally. True that this book is not like her others which are more full of life, love, and intertwined history with her other books of fiction. This one contains more of a goth From what I've read of other reviews, every one dislikes this book. I have the opposite opinion. I love this book. I love the darkness of it and the intregue. There is that taste of the Victorian morbid love of death and disception. I love that time period in the art and the clothing, so this book was right up my alley, literally. True that this book is not like her others which are more full of life, love, and intertwined history with her other books of fiction. This one contains more of a gothic horror story spun by a gypsy feline lover. It is not a bad book in any way, but don't expect a Chocolat kind of feel from this book because you won't get that at all! Every author has dark days and I don't doubt dark books, this one just happens to be her dark novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    'Sleep, Pale Sister' is one of Joanne Harris's earliest novels and due to popular demand was re~released and when you read it, you will find out why. Sleep, Pale Sister tells the story of Effie and the men in her life who set out to hurt in the cruelest manner possible. Effie finds a way to have her revenge in this dark novel. The chapters are told from the perspective of each separate characters which makes the story more interesting, you find out more about their pasts, the people they are. A 'Sleep, Pale Sister' is one of Joanne Harris's earliest novels and due to popular demand was re~released and when you read it, you will find out why. Sleep, Pale Sister tells the story of Effie and the men in her life who set out to hurt in the cruelest manner possible. Effie finds a way to have her revenge in this dark novel. The chapters are told from the perspective of each separate characters which makes the story more interesting, you find out more about their pasts, the people they are. A very dark, very gothic and interesting book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sofia Brito

    I love Joanne Harris and her gallery of characters and stories. But this story misses the spot somewhere and doesn't really hold together. Effie/Marta, Fanny, Mose and the infamous Henry with their secrets and addictions are not memorable enough to make this book work. I love Joanne Harris and her gallery of characters and stories. But this story misses the spot somewhere and doesn't really hold together. Effie/Marta, Fanny, Mose and the infamous Henry with their secrets and addictions are not memorable enough to make this book work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shahrun

    Very random series of events staring 4 very different people each with their own agendas. Not sure I really liked this book. It's all rather weird and confusing. Just when I thought things were getting exciting and going some where, it didn't. Almost felt like I was on a drug when reading it. Very random series of events staring 4 very different people each with their own agendas. Not sure I really liked this book. It's all rather weird and confusing. Just when I thought things were getting exciting and going some where, it didn't. Almost felt like I was on a drug when reading it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Sleep, Pale Sister falls into a category of books in which I cannot get enough of. The story takes place in the Victorian era (one of my favourites). The narrative switches between four characters, each of which has a very distinctive and recognisable voice, and each of which is in some way damaged. We have Henry Chester, a successful artist, and the son of a deeply religious Methodist minister, Effie Chester, firstly his muse, then his wife. Moses Harper, a bit of a rogue, also an artist but no Sleep, Pale Sister falls into a category of books in which I cannot get enough of. The story takes place in the Victorian era (one of my favourites). The narrative switches between four characters, each of which has a very distinctive and recognisable voice, and each of which is in some way damaged. We have Henry Chester, a successful artist, and the son of a deeply religious Methodist minister, Effie Chester, firstly his muse, then his wife. Moses Harper, a bit of a rogue, also an artist but not well recognised such as Henry. And finally we have Fanny Miller, a brothel owner, and the mother of Marta, murdered by Henry Chester some years earlier. Despite the fact that Marta is dead, she is very much present in the rooms of Fanny’s brothel. Moses sees Effie and decides he’d like to have a dalliance with her, so he worms his way into Henry’s life, wanting him to be his patron. It’s not long before Effie has fallen for him, helped by the fact she’s unhappy in her marriage to Henry. By chance, Moses and Effie encounter Fanny at the fair, and Fanny soon realises that Effie is married to the murderer of her daughter. A plan is made by Fanny, a plan in which she can not only bring her dead daughter back, but get the ultimate revenge on Henry Chester for the murder of Marta. The plan involves using Effie as a pawn. Moses readily agrees to Fanny’s plan as he sees it a way to earn easy money. The plan is hatched and put into action. It works exactly how Fanny hopes, and the final step is staged. But that part goes horribly wrong, and ends in death. The scene is very atmospheric, dark, gothic, and haunting. The story is quite dreamlike and ethereal at times. I love anything with a gothic setting, and this didn’t disappoint me. It’s very eerie, and the tension in the story is built to perfection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kaelie

    I have read this book several times (I should probably just buy it for all the times I go to the library for it) and every time I notice something different. The first time I read it, I didn't really understand the storyline, because it requires you to pay close attention to details and everyone's history--not too difficult, in the long run. The characters were just so different and interesting that I couldn't help but get sucked in by this book. Effie is so weak physically but she is spiritually I have read this book several times (I should probably just buy it for all the times I go to the library for it) and every time I notice something different. The first time I read it, I didn't really understand the storyline, because it requires you to pay close attention to details and everyone's history--not too difficult, in the long run. The characters were just so different and interesting that I couldn't help but get sucked in by this book. Effie is so weak physically but she is spiritually one of the strongest characters I have ever read. She is constantly demeaned by her husband, strapped down by Victorian Society's strict rules. It is sad to see her husband lose his love for her when she reaches puberty. The story is somewhat tragic, and leaves you with goosebumps. Harris is one of the best story-tellers I have come across, on the level of Neil Gaiman. I loved this book, and I keep coming back for more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Free Fall

    An elderly artist paints a young girl-child and falls in love with his impression of her, as a sweet creature who can only be totally obedient. A rake sees her, at which time she discovers passion in having her affair with him. Then, she starts developing an alter ego, which leads to tragic consequences. None of the main characters were "nice," in any way. They were all deeply flawed, making me sympathize with them, pity them, and hate them. The story jumps from one point of view to the next, with An elderly artist paints a young girl-child and falls in love with his impression of her, as a sweet creature who can only be totally obedient. A rake sees her, at which time she discovers passion in having her affair with him. Then, she starts developing an alter ego, which leads to tragic consequences. None of the main characters were "nice," in any way. They were all deeply flawed, making me sympathize with them, pity them, and hate them. The story jumps from one point of view to the next, with possibly more introspection than action. There's never a truly peaceful moment, though, because the story starts out disturbing and even when it seems there might be a moment of happiness, there's always that little niggling, tiny phrase that says this cannot end well. Definitely reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe, especially his Fall of the House of Usher, it's spooky with a hint of the fantastical.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Djrmel

    On the plus side, it's very gothic. Every main character is not only damaged, but intent on damaging the others. There's a perverted artist, a heart of stone prostitute, a lecherous user of women, and the misused, misunderstood, emotionally stunted young woman they all revolve around. That the story is told by each of those characters in a nearly consecutive format makes it all fit together a little too neatly. There's no mystery as to who will do what to whom next, by the middle of the book you On the plus side, it's very gothic. Every main character is not only damaged, but intent on damaging the others. There's a perverted artist, a heart of stone prostitute, a lecherous user of women, and the misused, misunderstood, emotionally stunted young woman they all revolve around. That the story is told by each of those characters in a nearly consecutive format makes it all fit together a little too neatly. There's no mystery as to who will do what to whom next, by the middle of the book you know all will be explained as soon as it happens. This was one of Harris's first books, and wasn't even released world wide until her later novels became popular. It does read as a more amateur work - there's a lot of story, a lot of character, a lot of setting - all with the feeling that it could have been done better with a little less.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter Chandler

    A darkly gothic tale indeed, engaging and provocative in parts if certainly not without its flaws. Those flaws mainly comprising of two and, when the book gets one of those right it seems to go awry with the other. The constant switching of narrators between the four main characters can create a rather dislocating experience and make it difficult to really connect with any of them. Then, particularly with the unnecessarily drawn out ending, when it does linger on any one voice for long enough it A darkly gothic tale indeed, engaging and provocative in parts if certainly not without its flaws. Those flaws mainly comprising of two and, when the book gets one of those right it seems to go awry with the other. The constant switching of narrators between the four main characters can create a rather dislocating experience and make it difficult to really connect with any of them. Then, particularly with the unnecessarily drawn out ending, when it does linger on any one voice for long enough it just gets a bit too heavy-handed. Stylish, but certainly not subtle. Still a very decent read though and, of course, an early work so I can but wonder how it might have come out were it written later by a more experienced hand.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I just finished reading two other Joanne Harris books, so I decided to read this one. To be brutally honest, the story was really bizarre and I'm not entirely sure I understand what happened. What's the book about? Well, just take a middle aged artist who's also a pedophile, his slightly creepy, very thin, very young, drug addict wife, a brothel owner, one of its' patrons and a girl that died twenty years ago, add in a little witchcraft and a death scene befitting Romeo and Juliet and there you I just finished reading two other Joanne Harris books, so I decided to read this one. To be brutally honest, the story was really bizarre and I'm not entirely sure I understand what happened. What's the book about? Well, just take a middle aged artist who's also a pedophile, his slightly creepy, very thin, very young, drug addict wife, a brothel owner, one of its' patrons and a girl that died twenty years ago, add in a little witchcraft and a death scene befitting Romeo and Juliet and there you go. This isn't a book that I would recommend. If you do read it, you'll have to let me know what you think...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Daly

    I loved this book. Joanne Harris at her best. As a gothic novel set in 19th Century Britain it is a million miles away from Chocolat and the Lollipop Shoes, yet it reminded me of these books because of the depth of the characters. Each damaged character is caught up in his or her own selfish vision of the future but I wanted to know what happened to each of them and raced through this book in a day. If I have any criticism it is that the ending is a little unsatisfactory, but maybe that is just I loved this book. Joanne Harris at her best. As a gothic novel set in 19th Century Britain it is a million miles away from Chocolat and the Lollipop Shoes, yet it reminded me of these books because of the depth of the characters. Each damaged character is caught up in his or her own selfish vision of the future but I wanted to know what happened to each of them and raced through this book in a day. If I have any criticism it is that the ending is a little unsatisfactory, but maybe that is just because the various characters didn't receive the outcome I would have liked.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    not liking this very much...but fairly determined to finish it anyway. Update - the story is getting a bit better and I will finish it, but the characters are sort of flat and I don't really care one way or the other what happens to them. not liking this very much...but fairly determined to finish it anyway. Update - the story is getting a bit better and I will finish it, but the characters are sort of flat and I don't really care one way or the other what happens to them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bella Martinez

    This was the most spine-tingling, creepy little gothic tale. I'd call it a love story...but not in any way a traditional one. Harris' work is fascinating, alluring, and finds beauty in such things as prostitution and death. What a wonderfully chilling tale. This was the most spine-tingling, creepy little gothic tale. I'd call it a love story...but not in any way a traditional one. Harris' work is fascinating, alluring, and finds beauty in such things as prostitution and death. What a wonderfully chilling tale.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    A bit too drawn out but very 19th century Gothic!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Sillitoe

    If you like Gothic, you may love this. I don't really like gothic, but expected great things because of Gentlemen and Players. It was good, but not great, at least not for me. If you like Gothic, you may love this. I don't really like gothic, but expected great things because of Gentlemen and Players. It was good, but not great, at least not for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Freya

    Review to come :)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tracie

    It's actually a 3.5. Gothic, mystic, and captivating...with a gritty edge. Joanne Harris has become one of my favorite authors. She can spin a tale like nobody's business. "Book hangover"-worthy. It's actually a 3.5. Gothic, mystic, and captivating...with a gritty edge. Joanne Harris has become one of my favorite authors. She can spin a tale like nobody's business. "Book hangover"-worthy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Joanne Harris, you never fail to mesmerize me. Just a little before reading this, I read Gentlemen and Players, and it instantly proved to me the beauty and genius of her writing. She has a true talent of capturing ones mind, twisting ones heart, and using her word-play to prove her skill and delicacy. I just realized how annoying and sappy that sounded... Simply put, she has made her way into a position as one of my favorite writers, capable of the gothic and the whimsicle, and one of the most t Joanne Harris, you never fail to mesmerize me. Just a little before reading this, I read Gentlemen and Players, and it instantly proved to me the beauty and genius of her writing. She has a true talent of capturing ones mind, twisting ones heart, and using her word-play to prove her skill and delicacy. I just realized how annoying and sappy that sounded... Simply put, she has made her way into a position as one of my favorite writers, capable of the gothic and the whimsicle, and one of the most talented writers at characterizing that I have ever read. While you may dislike all the characters in this novel, as I did, you're absolutely bonkers if you say she isn't capable of creating them as memorable, shocking, and intriguing individuals. This novel, more than any of her others, messed with my mind...The very subject matter surrounds a controlling and dominant husband, desperate to keep his frail wife young and submissive...leading into more than I could ever fit into words. The depth to this novel is amazing, though a few small details made it a four star rather than five, the details hardly important enough to be mentioned...but one of which being the ending. I've always been a fan of quick, shocking ends...and Joanne Harris generally has just that; but in this one I found myself lagging on. The first three-hundred pages or so passed in a whirlwind of colorful language and plot, yet as I neared the end, I found myself slowing down, suddenly the whole thing seeming lack-luster. Mind you, there was never a time I was bored or disliking it, I just found she could have ended it much sooner and more memorably rather than carried on... Anyway, as I said, a very unimportant detail on the whole for a book that was beautifully and tastefully executed, and in no way butchered my love for this woman.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Saski

    In the Acknowledgements and Forward Harris makes the following comments: ‘Many thanks to everyone who helped to bring this sleeper back to life.’ And ‘It takes a certain kind of person to want to raise the dead. Dead books especially merit caution; … This is why over the past decade I became accustomed to thinking of Sleep, Pale Sister as the relic of a vanished time…. ‘[But] I was overwhelmed by requests for copies…. Finally, we decided to give it a try. I have edified the original text very sli In the Acknowledgements and Forward Harris makes the following comments: ‘Many thanks to everyone who helped to bring this sleeper back to life.’ And ‘It takes a certain kind of person to want to raise the dead. Dead books especially merit caution; … This is why over the past decade I became accustomed to thinking of Sleep, Pale Sister as the relic of a vanished time…. ‘[But] I was overwhelmed by requests for copies…. Finally, we decided to give it a try. I have edified the original text very slightly – perhaps not a much as I should have done, but I soon realized that this patient was far too fragile for radical surgery…’ Yeah, you might be right, even radical surgery might not have helped. For those that called for the reprint of this book, I hope they were satisfied. I wish I had not stumbled upon it, personally. Anything specific I can say about this book/story? I think I read it too soon after reading Lolita. There are vast similarities and vast differences, but one Lolita-like story I feel is enough for one lifetime. I did enjoy the setting although I kept wondering if I knew more about the time period, I would question the authenticity of language and culture more. Anyway, that part I found interesting. Quotes that caught my eye For six nights I borrowed my sleep from the chloral bottle…. (228) And at night, as I lay in my bed, they came, my darling Erinnyes, laughing softly in the dark, cold and triumphant, tender and merciless, their claws and teeth explored the cavities of my brain, with a mother’s tenderness, tearing, slicing with exquisite delicacy…. (371)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Groves

    This gothic thriller kept me turning the pages. In Victorian England, a wealthy gentleman and moderately talented artist spots a little girl and makes her the model for a series of sentimental paintings, helping support her family in the process. Eventually he marries her, but he sees her more as a symbol of childlike purity than a warm blooded woman, and as a man of his times, wants to "protect" this weak, fragile vessel from harm (even taking a walk in the garden is considered too risky if he This gothic thriller kept me turning the pages. In Victorian England, a wealthy gentleman and moderately talented artist spots a little girl and makes her the model for a series of sentimental paintings, helping support her family in the process. Eventually he marries her, but he sees her more as a symbol of childlike purity than a warm blooded woman, and as a man of his times, wants to "protect" this weak, fragile vessel from harm (even taking a walk in the garden is considered too risky if he thinks she's unwell). The wife, Effie, has never been particularly fond of her husband and quickly realizes that this will be a loveless marriage in both the emotional and physical senses. She falls in love with one of her husband's artistic colleagues, a cad who does have some feelings for her but also spins plenty of lies about their future, and things get even more complicated when the madame of a local brothel sees something in Effie that she believes will help her communicate with or even bring back her daughter, who was murdered years earlier. She wants her daughter, Effie's perennially indebted lover wants to blackmail her husband, and poor unhappy Effie just wants to love and be loved, and a plot with a bit of supernatural overtones ensues, but there will be no happily ever after ending.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Have almost finished this book and it was the first book I read from this author. I found it to be a novel which draws you in completely, submerges you into its dreamlike and sometimes murky depths. It possesses a guiltridden, almost suffocating atmosphere interwoven with nightmarish sequences evoked by laudanum- and chloral hydrate abuse. The main male character reminded me very strongly of my childhood home (the guiltridden, suffocating part) and more especially of my misogynous father - Joann Have almost finished this book and it was the first book I read from this author. I found it to be a novel which draws you in completely, submerges you into its dreamlike and sometimes murky depths. It possesses a guiltridden, almost suffocating atmosphere interwoven with nightmarish sequences evoked by laudanum- and chloral hydrate abuse. The main male character reminded me very strongly of my childhood home (the guiltridden, suffocating part) and more especially of my misogynous father - Joanne Harris must surely have had personal experience of this sort of creature as she manages to create him so convincingly... The drug-infused scenes are also very recognisable, she describes very accurately the almost claustrophobic feeling produced by being addicted to drugs (and I can also compare this with my own experiences during my wild years). All in all an extremely good read with believable characters, a fascinating well-crafted story and I also enjoyed the many references to Tarot cards - their symbolism and imagery are skilfully interwoven within the tale.

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