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Sleep, Pale Sister Paperback – 1 Sep 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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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 (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
This is a consuming Gothic novel by the author of Chocolat. What lies hidden in that later novel is brought to the fore here. Whilst Vianne Rocher has a love/hate relationship with the Tarot in Chocolat, the cards here form the divisions of the text, the stepping-stones we take to reach the conclusion. And it is possible to make a reading from these cards, unlike those of T. S. Elliot's Madame Sosostris.
Henry Paul Chester is a Victorian artist, the owner of a deadly secret, which goes to the very depth of his heart and art. Here we seem to be on traditional Gothic turf: that of James Hogg and his 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner', for Chester postulates that he may well have a secret double. Joanne Harris obeys the literary conventions of the early Gothic here by making Chester a Catholic - Matthew 'Monk' Lewis' Ambrosio removed from his Abbey and placed into the art world. He is just as repressed and far back in denial as Father Reynaud is in Chocolat. Then there's a touch of Sheridan Le Fanu too, with the distressed maiden taking liberal doses of laudanum. However, 'Sleep, Pale Sister' is not just homage to old fictions. Joanne Harris is an excellent storyteller, with a quite distinctive style. The tales of Le Fanu and Stoker may have had their powerful, exciting moments, but Harris outshines them all with her excellent technique.
Chester is obsessed with painting young, 'innocent' girls. Which leads him to spot the nine-year-old Effie in a park. For the price of a few shillings, Chester gets his perfect model. Effie becomes the star of a series of portraits of young, distressed children, such as 'The Little Beggar Girl'. After ten years, Chester marries his 'perfect' model, and this is precisely the moment when their relationship sours.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the author's earlier works and in my opinion the best I have read by her. Set in Victorian England it tells the tale of a painter who marries a beautiful 17 year old girl who is his favourite model. He has a dark shameful past and it all catches up with him to reach a fantastic conclusion. In this book we have death, love, obsession, sex, murder and magic. A tremendous read and one I fully recommend.
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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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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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