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Sleep, pale sister
Harris, Joanne
Adult Fiction HARRIS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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 protege, 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. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Before she wrote more contemporary books like the wildly popular Chocolat, Harris penned this dark and haunting gothic, set in 19th-century London. It is the tale of puritanical, middle-aged artist Henry Chester, who buys child-beauty Effie off the street for a few pence. She is his vision of feminine perfection-passive, docile, innocent, unsullied-and he paints her in various poses of slumber and death. When she turns 17, he marries her and keeps her drugged with laudanum to repress her emerging thoughts and desires. The story is told in alternating chapters by Chester, young Effie, and Mose Harper, a fellow artist and Effie's roguish lover, which adds to the tension and haunting intrigue. Chester reveals his sexual obsession and volatile possessiveness, Mose his rapacious albeit cynical appetites for young Effie, and Effie her burgeoning passion for Mose and repulsion for her husband's hypocrisy and sexual proclivities. Readers of Harris's later novels will see glimpses of their atmosphere, sensuality, and elegant style. Highly popular in England when it was first published in 1993 and now making its U.S. debut, Harris's first novel will resonate with both gothic romance readers and fans of her later work. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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