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Before the sweet delight of Chocolat, before the heady concoction that is Blackberry Wine, and before the tart pleasures of Five Quarters of the Orange, bestselling author Joanne Harris wrote Sleep, Pale Sister -- a gothic tourde-force that recalls the powerfully dark sensibility of her novel Holy Fools.

Originally published in 1994 -- and never before available in the United States -- Sleep, Pale Sister is a hypnotically atmospheric story set in nineteenth century London. When puritanical artist Henry Chester sees delicate child beauty Effie, he makes her his favorite model and, before long, his bride. But Henry, volatile and repressed, is in love with an ideal. Passive, docile, and asexual, the woman he projects onto Effie is far from the woman she really is. And when Effie begins to discover the murderous depths of Henry's hypocrisy, her latent passion will rise to the surface.

Sleep, Pale Sister combines the ethereal beauty of a Pre-Raphaelite painting with a chilling high gothic tale and is a testament to Harris's brimming cornucopia of talents.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061843181
List price: $5.99
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Tragic, confusing. Not so good.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The themes in this story are very gothic; lust, drugs, madness, revenge, and murder. A Pre-Raphaelite artist, Henry Chester, marries his seventeen year old model Effie who he has been using as a model since she was eleven. He portrays her in his paintings as an innocent, but on their wedding night she displays sexual desires. He has psychological issues involving religion and his mother which causes him to be guilt ridden about having sex with his wife. Henry is cruel to Effie and tries to control her by giving her laudanum. She turns to a lover, Mose. Mose introduces her to the local madam, Fanny, who knows Effie's husband because he frequents her brothel. Fanny concocts a plan to extort money from Henry, but Effie and Mose don't realize that Fanny has her own reasons for destroying Henry's life.Each chapter of this book is told from a different characters point of view. This helps you to understand Henry's cruelty, Mose's selfishness, how easily manipulated Effie is, and Fanny's dark motives. This book was very hard to put down. The story was very engaging.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Very dark, very Gothic and a good read. Harris has created a dream-like, murky story, narrated by four different characters. It's a psychological drama, a ghost story, a murder story, a novel about artists and models and sexual obsessions, all wrapped in one. Is it perfect? Not quite. The voices sound a little too similar to one another for that. But never mind, it's a great read for a rainy night by the fire. Enjoy.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Joanne Harris' second novel probably could have done with more editing before it was re-released, it's true. At first glance it's quite different to her other writing, but slowly you can see themes in it that come up over and over again in her writing. Slowly it becomes more and more creepy and mystical and strange, from something that was more like realism. Creepy both in the supernatural sense and in the creepy pervert sense, really.

The writing is pretty compelling, just like her other writing. There's something "more-ish" about it, I guess: it goes down easy. I've found that with all of her work and this one's no exception.

The closest similarity is with The Evil Seed, and I think that's the gothic element and also one of the key characters. Marta haunts the other characters in the same way that Rosemary does in The Evil Seed. I don't find the evil-woman-who-has-men-dancing-to-her-tune archetype all that much, so I hope it doesn't show up again through all the rest of Joanne Harris' writing that I haven't read yet...read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"Sleep.Pale Sister" is what I describe as a page-turner. I found Joanne Harris' book to be one of those the reader will cuddle up with, tucked up with a warm blanket, a steaming mug of tea and a purring cat. With a lusty wind blowing outside, it is a quick read and the dreamlike sequences that carry the reader through the story are never less than mesmerizing, enchanting and powerful. While it is a horror story, it says a great deal to the reader about love, that between a child and mother and husband and wife, between friends and lovers. The writing I found to be exceptional, the story true to life while carrying the reader in a dream-like state through the horror scenes. If you like a quick read, full of images and frightening realities, don't miss this.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Gripping. Immensely haunting and ethereal. Characters were a tad underdeveloped, but I forgave it as I turned page after page after page...What a pleasantly dark and pessimistic tale from such a pleasantly optimistic author. The role of Devil's Advocate certainly becomes Ms. Harris.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I pretty much devoured Sleep, Pale Sister -- a gothic novel told from shifting first-person perspectives -- though I'd have liked the conclusion to be a bit less elusive.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A rather silly gothic romp...Painter, Henry Chester had a rather twisted childhood which filled him with dark and perverse desires and a terrible guilt and shame about them. He thought all women were whores and so the only woman he felt he could marry was his child model, who he had been paying to have tutored and kept isolated by her aunt until she was 18 and he married her. When on their wedding night it turned out she wanted sex (horrors!) so obviously she was a whore too! The solution was to keep her drugged up on laudnum, while he went and visited the whorehouse where at least he knew exactly what he was getting. His wife, Effie, suddenly developed the ability to leave her body and run around as her naked spectral self which empowered her enough to find a lover.. and get involved in a twisted revenge plot.. which didn't turn out too well for anyone involved. It was quite a story...read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I found this uncomfortably weird. It is a easy read in that it was compelling, but I found I was drawn onto read further in a distasteful way.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

Tragic, confusing. Not so good.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The themes in this story are very gothic; lust, drugs, madness, revenge, and murder. A Pre-Raphaelite artist, Henry Chester, marries his seventeen year old model Effie who he has been using as a model since she was eleven. He portrays her in his paintings as an innocent, but on their wedding night she displays sexual desires. He has psychological issues involving religion and his mother which causes him to be guilt ridden about having sex with his wife. Henry is cruel to Effie and tries to control her by giving her laudanum. She turns to a lover, Mose. Mose introduces her to the local madam, Fanny, who knows Effie's husband because he frequents her brothel. Fanny concocts a plan to extort money from Henry, but Effie and Mose don't realize that Fanny has her own reasons for destroying Henry's life.Each chapter of this book is told from a different characters point of view. This helps you to understand Henry's cruelty, Mose's selfishness, how easily manipulated Effie is, and Fanny's dark motives. This book was very hard to put down. The story was very engaging.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Very dark, very Gothic and a good read. Harris has created a dream-like, murky story, narrated by four different characters. It's a psychological drama, a ghost story, a murder story, a novel about artists and models and sexual obsessions, all wrapped in one. Is it perfect? Not quite. The voices sound a little too similar to one another for that. But never mind, it's a great read for a rainy night by the fire. Enjoy.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Joanne Harris' second novel probably could have done with more editing before it was re-released, it's true. At first glance it's quite different to her other writing, but slowly you can see themes in it that come up over and over again in her writing. Slowly it becomes more and more creepy and mystical and strange, from something that was more like realism. Creepy both in the supernatural sense and in the creepy pervert sense, really.

The writing is pretty compelling, just like her other writing. There's something "more-ish" about it, I guess: it goes down easy. I've found that with all of her work and this one's no exception.

The closest similarity is with The Evil Seed, and I think that's the gothic element and also one of the key characters. Marta haunts the other characters in the same way that Rosemary does in The Evil Seed. I don't find the evil-woman-who-has-men-dancing-to-her-tune archetype all that much, so I hope it doesn't show up again through all the rest of Joanne Harris' writing that I haven't read yet...
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"Sleep.Pale Sister" is what I describe as a page-turner. I found Joanne Harris' book to be one of those the reader will cuddle up with, tucked up with a warm blanket, a steaming mug of tea and a purring cat. With a lusty wind blowing outside, it is a quick read and the dreamlike sequences that carry the reader through the story are never less than mesmerizing, enchanting and powerful. While it is a horror story, it says a great deal to the reader about love, that between a child and mother and husband and wife, between friends and lovers. The writing I found to be exceptional, the story true to life while carrying the reader in a dream-like state through the horror scenes. If you like a quick read, full of images and frightening realities, don't miss this.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Gripping. Immensely haunting and ethereal. Characters were a tad underdeveloped, but I forgave it as I turned page after page after page...What a pleasantly dark and pessimistic tale from such a pleasantly optimistic author. The role of Devil's Advocate certainly becomes Ms. Harris.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I pretty much devoured Sleep, Pale Sister -- a gothic novel told from shifting first-person perspectives -- though I'd have liked the conclusion to be a bit less elusive.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A rather silly gothic romp...Painter, Henry Chester had a rather twisted childhood which filled him with dark and perverse desires and a terrible guilt and shame about them. He thought all women were whores and so the only woman he felt he could marry was his child model, who he had been paying to have tutored and kept isolated by her aunt until she was 18 and he married her. When on their wedding night it turned out she wanted sex (horrors!) so obviously she was a whore too! The solution was to keep her drugged up on laudnum, while he went and visited the whorehouse where at least he knew exactly what he was getting. His wife, Effie, suddenly developed the ability to leave her body and run around as her naked spectral self which empowered her enough to find a lover.. and get involved in a twisted revenge plot.. which didn't turn out too well for anyone involved. It was quite a story...
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I found this uncomfortably weird. It is a easy read in that it was compelling, but I found I was drawn onto read further in a distasteful way.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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