The Welsh Fasting Girl

Varley O'Connor (Author)
Available

Description

Praise for the Previous Novels of Varley O'Connor

"Thoroughly researched and lively." --Vogue

"Elegantly wrought, hardheaded, and tenderhearted." --Michael Chabon

"Honesty and compassion inform every page, and there are passages so musical and full of grace they read like hymns. Reading groups should rejoice." --Sigrid Nunez

" O'Connor] captures the dangerous intersection between private life and the forces of history . . . and gives the reader that rare pleasure of inhabiting another family life that feels at once entirely familiar and new." --Susan Richards Shreve

Twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob was the most famous of the Victorian fasting girls, who claimed to miraculously survive without food, serving as flashpoints between struggling religious, scientific, and political factions. In this novel based on Sarah's life and premature death from what may be the first documented case of anorexia, an American journalist, recovering from her husband's death in the Civil War, leaves her home and children behind to travel to Wales, where she investigates Sarah's bizarre case by becoming the young girl's friend and confidante. Unable to prevent the girl's tragic decline while doctors, nurses, and a local priest keep watch, she documents the curious family dynamic, the trial that convicted Sarah's parents, and an era's hysterical need to both believe and destroy Sarah's seemingly miraculous power.

Intense, dark, and utterly compelling, The Welsh Fasting Girl delves into the complexities of a true story to understand how a culture's anxieties led to the murder of a child.

Varley O'Connor is the author of five novels, including The Welsh Fasting Girl, The Master's Muse, and The Cure. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Product Details

Price: $16.98  $15.62
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Published Date: May 07, 2019
Pages: 352
Dimensions: 5.0 X 1.1 X 7.4 inches | 0.75 pounds
ISBN: 9781942658627
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Varley O'Connor is the author of five novels, including The Welsh Fasting Girl, The Master's Muse, and The Cure. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Reviews

Praise for The Welsh Fasting Girl

Foreword Reviews "Book of the Day" selection

"At the center of Varley O'Connor's novel The Welsh Fasting Girl is a single, horrifying question: what happens when an idea becomes more important than a person--and what happens when that person is a girl? . . . A searing critique. . . . It is one of the only places I have been reassured, in literature or otherwise, that when our morbid wonder towards eating problems ends, our understanding of the individual's pain might begin." --Barrelhouse Magazine

"O'Connor takes the story of Sarah Jacob, one of history's most noteworthy fasting girls, and turns this 150-year-old tale into a freshly poignant commentary on family dynamics and the treatment of women." --Miracle Monocle magazine

"The real miracle lies in the capacity of Sarah's singular, dark fate to illuminate the socioeconomic, religious, scientific, philosophic, and political cultures and conflicts of [the] time. . . . A transcendent historical novel." --Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"A moving, masterful story. . . . O'Connor's recreation of this world and its people is haunted and haunting, with marvelous poetry and human sorrow resonating in every line." --Historical Novels Review

"O'Connor's poignant tale addresses numerous relevant and timely issues, from cultural anxiety to female empowerment or the lack thereof, and the painful and often tragic condition of eating disorders." --Booklist

"[A] moving novel. . . . O'Connor's bleak, powerful story serves as an affecting homage to a girl whose community failed to protect her." --Publishers Weekly

"Fascinating yet sad. . . . Utterly compelling to read." --Shelf Awareness for Readers

"Riveting. . . . One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself is finished." --Midwest Book Review

"Varley O'Connor's beautiful and brilliant novel takes us deep into the mysteries of virtue's conspiracy with evil and the human spirit's war against itself. With spot-on historical detail and scintillating language, the novel fascinates and moves us, and uses the story of a nineteenth-century Welsh farm girl to deliver cogent insights into contemporary issues regarding gender and family." --Stephen O'Connor, author of Orphan Trains and Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings

"In this richly textured and compelling novel, O'Connor proves to us that human desire is never simple and that our noblest wishes sometimes provoke our darkest deeds." --Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace and Gateway to the Moon

"I became enthralled as the mystery of a young girl's death by starvation unfolds, revealing layers of secrets about family life amid religious and cultural conflicts. O'Connor is a splendid storyteller." --Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Disturbances in the Field and Two-Part Inventions

Select Praise for the Previous Novels of Varley O'Connor

On The Master's Muse

"Thoroughly researched and lively." --Vogue

"Loving Frank was a novel about architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most scandalous love affair. The Paris Wife centered on the first Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. Into this group of well-researched novelizations of famous love lives comes Varley O'Connor's The Master's Muse." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"A masterful portrait. . . . Reads like a troubled love letter to art, dance, and creation--and the complexity and betrayal of a life spent in their service." --Slate

"Dynamic and remarkable. . . . Intensely lyrical. . . . O'Connor has opened a portal into the elusive world of dance and the mind of an artist." --Rain Taxi Review of Books

"O'Connor's interweaving of history, fact and imagination results in a convincing and realistic voice. . . . Absorbing. . . . This novel is a must read." --Washington Independent Review of Books

"A fascinating portrait." --Historical Novels Review

"Compelling. . . . Like an elegant ballet, The Master's Muse takes the reader on an artistic journey of love--an undeniably beautiful journey, despite its bittersweet ending." --Shelf Awareness for Readers

"Graceful and penetrating. . . . [A] passionate novel." --Publishers Weekly

"Well-written . . . reads like the memoir Le Clercq herself never wrote." --Library Journal

"This is not a novel about victimization or the malevolence of genius, but rather about the painful accommodations all of us make for the things and people we love. Thoughtful, tender and quite gripping, even for readers unfamiliar with the historical events the author sensitively reimagines." --Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliant . . . The Master's Muse is pure magic." --Sena Jeter Naslund

"Utterly gorgeous."--Adrienne Sharp

On The Cure

"The Cure is fresh and engaging from [O'Connor's] commanding literary skill, her imaginative control of the historic details, and her marvelous feeling for the fragility of family dynamics." --Phillip Lopate

"This sublimely written novel takes on large issues such as illness, race, family relations, and the varieties of human love. Honesty and compassion inform every page, and there are passages so musical and full of grace they read like hymns. Reading groups should rejoice at this book." --Sigrid Nunez

"A moving, beautifully written, character-driven novel. . . . The book captures the dangerous intersection between private life and the forces of history . . . and gives the reader that rare pleasure of inhabiting another family life that feels at once entirely familiar and new." --Susan Richards Shreve

On A Company of Three

"O'Connor has created a fascinating set of characters, who rely on and push each other away in equal measure, and their struggles are sure to engage readers." --Booklist

"Elegantly wrought, hardheaded, and tenderhearted." --Michael Chabon

On Like China

"Impeccable prose and rhythms as tense as any tango. . . . A first novel that soars." --New York Times Book Review

"O'Connor skillfully contrasts the world of a tormented, wealthy adult with that of a destitute, abandoned child. . . . An ambitious, well-written novel." --San Francisco Chronicle/i>