It sneaked in under the media radar…
Before Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, there was Sleep, Pale Sister.
It was Joanne Harris’ debut novel, originally published in 1993 in England but never before available in the U.S.
This haunting gothic romance is set in 19th century London. Middle-aged Henry Chester, an artist of independent means has an unhealthy interest in virginal young girls. Beautiful, fatherless Effie - his model/wife is kept drugged with laudanum so as to remain his vision of feminine perfection — passive, docile, innocent, unsullied. That is, until a roguish fellow artist awakes her passion.
Multiple plot twists complete with ghosts, illicit sex and murder make for a page-turner. Harris' sensual, elegant style and atmospheric prose admired in her subsequent works, is very much evident here. You will love this one.