The reissue of Joanne Harris's second novel, a consuming Gothic tale set in 19th century London
Joanne Harris's Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat was
made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and
Johnny Depp. She is the author of many other bestselling novels,
including Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le
Cure, both also featuring Vianne Rocher, as is her new novel
The Strawberry Thief. She has also written acclaimed novels
in such diverse genres as fantasy based on Norse myth
(Runemarks, Runelight, The Gospel of Loki),
and the Malbry cycle of dark psychological thrillers (Gentlemen
& Players, Blueeyedboy, and Different Class).
Born in Barnsley, of an English father and a French mother, she spent fifteen years as a teacher before (somewhat reluctantly) becoming a full-time writer. In 2013, she was awarded an MBE. She lives in Yorkshire, plays bass and flute in a band first formed when she was sixteen, and works in a shed in her garden.
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 Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A hauntingly evocative laudanum-dream of a novel * Time Out *