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Sunday, November 11, 2012

SLEEP PALE SISTER by JOANNE HARRIS

 
 
Described as Victorian gothic, this was definitely a creepy one!
 
Set in the 19th century Henry Chester is a painter and he seems to specialize in paintings of very young girls.  This also seems to be a secret obsession of his. He takes in Effie as a young model at a very early age and uses her as his muse. He eventually marries her at 18 but though married to her would like to keep her in his eyes and heart as a young girl of not even teenage years.
 
Effie who looks at him as a father figure at first is repelled by him as time goes on specially after she loses her first baby. Ripe for any form of excitment, Effie falls in love with Mose an unsavoury character himself and finds herself lined to a world of prostitution and deceit in the form of the very friendly Fanny Miller.
 
Effie stands alone in this gothic story - yet a link and a pawn with all other characters who want a piece of her and who will cling to her in whatever circumstances they find themselves in.  Victorian society was harsh - the excessive restrictions of women by their husbands, the control that men had over women (even to the point of getting a wife locked up in an asylum on a false charge of insanity was possible as a doctor would faithfully follow a husband's wishes on this matter), the excessive use of drugs laudanum and choral were some of the features of the society at the time.
 
The story was harsh, the ending harsher and it was not a comfortable read. Certainly different, just not comfortable.

4 comments:

leeswammes said...

I read this a few years ago and I agree not a comfortable read. I remember not liking it very much, but that was maybe because of the subject.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I like gothic stories, and sometimes the best stories are not at all comfortable to read.

Nicola Mansfield said...

I'm really into Victorian Gothic and this sounds right up my alley! I'll have to look for this one!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Hmmm now your have really made me curious??