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Sleep, Pale Sister Paperback – 1 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552771783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552771788
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.
Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.


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Product Description

Review

"A hauntingly evocative laudanum-dream of a novel" (Time Out)

Book Description

The reissue of Joanne Harris's second novel, a consuming Gothic tale set in 19th century London

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Filosofo on 28 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
Published before Joanne Harris became famous, this work is the darkest of hers yet.
I wonder if she lightened up her style to be more commercial, as this bears little resemblance to Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters... or Chocolat.
In brief, before going any further, I rate this the best book she has written.
In more detail, then:
Told from the point of view of multiple narrators, (a style Irvine Welsh has excelled in) two of them men (and very convincing they are, too. I found myself checking the title page to reassure myself this was a Joanne Harris novel, so thoroughly masculine were the male characters' voices) the plot, in its complexity and bleak darkness, while not in voice, language or period, could be measured against an Irvine Welsh story.
Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of a wealthy middle aged painter who marries a beautiful girl of seventen whom he has been grooming (shades of Moliere's Ecole de Femmes here) since she was eleven.
He has a murky, shameful past, however, and it is going to catch up with him, through the hands of a bohemian woman with mystical powers and a Byron-esque fellow painter with dishonourable designs on his ethereally beautiful wife.
The pace picks up at a constant rate throughout the book, so the reader is galloping along and defying anyone to interrupt as s/he approaches the denouement.
Love, obsession, sex, dark magic, hypocrisy, murder and death in general drive the plot along.
Buy it, borrow it,steal it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. KL FRANKLAND on 17 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
When I started Sleep Pale Sister it took me a while to get into it - it felt like it might be one of those books that trys to be arty for art's sake...

2 chapters in and I was hooked and completely wrong - it's just that Henry's character in the book is so bizarre that in reading the first chapter (written in his voice)it can be a little worrying that the whole novel is going to continue in this narrative style.

I loved the characters - Joanne Harris is extremely talented in making 4 completely different narrative voices so real - every chapter is written from a different character and you very quickly get used to the 4 minds - there is no confusion and having to revisit previous pages to work out whos turn it is - you just feel their individual energy straight away and I love that style of writing!

I was reminded of Sarah Walters in this book - Affinity is my absolute favourite read - and the black magic and mystery draws you in so completely that you cannot put the book down (and when you do it is still very much with you in everything you do. The reason for only 4 stars in stead of 5 is purely down to the ending. If you have read Infinity you will know how cleverly the magic and mystery is explained at the end of the book, where this one still leaves you wondering and a little disappointed at the lack of a clean finish.

This is only my opinion - I love mystery for the reason that I enjoy seeing how the author returns to normality and order at the close of the story - so for me this left too many questions unanswered but many other readers would probably prefer to stay in that sense of unknowing and completely give themselves over to the escapism of reading.

I would definitely recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hayles on 2 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a huge Harris fan and this novel didn't disappoint. You can definitely see where some of her later ideas took seed and as you would expect there is a huge magical influence throughout this story. This is much darker than Harris' later novels - there are none of the lighter, poetic moments that her novels centred around food give us - but that only makes it more special. I could so easily see this novel turned into a spine-chilling ghost film. Harris creates a disturbing atmosphere, and some pretty horrific characters, with ease and I found it impossible to put the book down. Maybe not as full of warmth and exotic language as her later works but as scary as any gothic novel you will have read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Catblack_uk on 20 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
I understand that this book disappeared without trace when it was first released. Goodness only knows why. Lacklustre promotion, I can only imagine because it's a wonderful book. Echoes of Dorian Gray but without the covert mysogyny. Darkly magical. Literate and hugely enjoyable.

Unlike a previous reviewer, I loved the device of having the four narrators and had no problem descerning which was which. Indeed, it simply increased my admiration for the author's skill and dexterity.

I loved Chocolat but I couldn't get on with Five Quarter's of the Orange at all. What does it matter? Sleep, Pale Sister is a stand-alone success.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Chan on 8 July 2011
Format: Paperback
A scary book to say the least. Tragedy, revenge and self-absorbtion rolled into the characters and how they reflect each other's designs to the others. Well written and the darkness keeps going until the last page.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By maria1971 on 20 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that Joanne Harris is one of my favorite writers - this book is a re-print of a novel that had first been published before she became well-known.

It features her usual blend of colorful characters (including the occasional spirit!) bound together by deep, and often dark, passion and magic.

Unusually, in this book she seems to have little sympathy for her characters - though I must admit that most of them really aren't all that likeable, the fact that even their creator can't sympathize with them or try to make some sort of excuse for them, makes them that much sadder.

I enjoyed reading it, but it's nowhere near one of her best works - I personally think she's at her best when writing about food, Chocolat being one of my all-time favorite books.
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