Challenges - RIP and 100 books.
First published by Arrow in 1994, republished by Black Swan in 2004
Isn't this cover a little scary? I am drawn to the picture constantly, I find it absolutely intriguing.
Now anyone who has read my blog from the beginning, will know how much I have come to love Joanne Harris over the year. To me, she is a master of storytelling. I actually enjoy her earlier books which are all Gothic thrillers, more than her recent books. Many of the ones I have fallen in love with, were only re released due to public demand.
Sleep, Pale Sister is one her Victorian Gothic thrillers at it's best. The book begins with Henry Chester, a Victorian artist, who dominates the life of his young innocent wife. Henry has a dark secret, which when revealed leads to his destruction. His wife Effie, was his child prodigy at the age of ten and his wife by the time she enters her teenage years. Henry is desperate to keep her pure and the only way he can do this is by keeping her drugged continuously on laudanum. As Effie matures, she takes on a lover, Mose, who in an attempt to blackmail Henry, he introduces Effie to Fanny Miller, a brothel keeper, whose daughter was murdered ten years ago on the day of Henry's visit to the brothel.
I found this book very dark and a little bit disturbing. I don't enjoy reading about young girls marrying men older enough to be their fathers and then being treated like children. I didn't enjoy it in Rebecca and I felt that this book takes it to the extreme. The relationship between Henry and Effie is beyond weird. In this day and age it would not be allowed. The fact that he keeps Effie drugged permanently to stop her just being herself, is just plain sick.
However, Effie does get her revenge and I think that is what kept me reading. In the end, she really does get her own back on Henry, though unfortunately she never gets to reap the benefits of her actions.
The book has a clairvoyant feel to it. There are plenty of references to gypsies, crystal balls and the calling of spirits. Each section of the book is titled to lay out like a tarot card reading.
I loved the setting of this book and really enjoyed the dark and sinister atmosphere the book gave off. Joanne Harris is superb at creating this Gothic imagery. As I mentioned before, the only thing I didn't enjoy was the relationship between Henry and Effie, but that is purely a personal thing. If you have not read any of Joanne Harris's earlier works which are set in Victorian London, then I really do suggest you try this one or 'An Evil Seed'.
I am really getting into the Victorian Gothic novel. Can anyone recommend any good ones they have read, that I might like.