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Church of Marvels: A Novel
(OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, OverDrive Listen)

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Published:
HarperAudio 2015
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Available from OverDrive
Description

A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all.

New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother's spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family's star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell's Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband's vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers' lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments, a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless.

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Format:
OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, OverDrive Listen
Edition:
Unabridged
Street Date:
05/05/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062404848
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Leslie Parry. (2015). Church of Marvels: A Novel. Unabridged HarperAudio.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Leslie Parry. 2015. Church of Marvels: A Novel. HarperAudio.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Leslie Parry, Church of Marvels: A Novel. HarperAudio, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Leslie Parry. Church of Marvels: A Novel. Unabridged HarperAudio, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:21:17
Date Updated:
Dec 08, 2020 06:25:40
Last Metadata Check:
Feb 05, 2023 06:47:59
Last Metadata Change:
Jan 29, 2023 06:31:15
Last Availability Check:
Feb 05, 2023 06:48:06
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Feb 03, 2023 14:03:43
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OverDrive Product Record

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        Leslie Parry is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her stories have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, The Cincinnati Review, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. She was recently a resident at Yaddo and the Kerouac House. Her writing has also received a National Magazine Award nomination and an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2013. She lives in Chicago.

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title
Church of Marvels
fullDescription

A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all.

New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother's spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family's star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell's Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband's vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers' lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments, a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 30, 2015
        Like the late-19th-century circus attraction of its title, Parry’s impressive debut is startling, full of wonders, and built around the bizarre; furthermore, it has compassion for human difference at its heart. The teenage Church sisters, sword-swallower Belle and her sickly twin, Odile, are left alone when their mother dies in a fire that destroys her business, Coney Island’s Church of Marvels. After the tragedy, Belle disappears with no explanation other than an enigmatic letter. Meanwhile, cesspit cleaner Sylvan Threadgill saves a baby he finds half-buried in the soil of a privy, and a young woman known only as Alphie awakens as she is being committed to a brutal insane asylum. Odile seeks Belle, Sylvan hunts for the mother of the child, and Alphie fights fiercely for her freedom; along the way, their disparate stories begin to converge. Alphie and Belle meet, for example, while a mysterious Mrs. Bloodworth figures in all of their journeys. As they encounter one another, the secrets each one hides are revealed. Parry vividly brings her characters to life and captures the underbelly of 1895 New York—a place of baby sellers, opium dens, and brothels where what is painful and what is profitable merge. Her novel satisfies as a complex historical fiction, a compelling mystery, and an insightful exploration of such themes as otherness and outsider identity. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2015
        In Parry's colorful debut novel, seedy corners of late 19th-century New York come alive-and no one is exactly who they seem to be. Odile and Isabelle Church are mourning Coney Island's famous Church of Marvels, a theater and sideshow act that has recently burned to the ground with their mother inside. Both girls had been performers, but after the fire, Isabelle disappears into shadowy Manhattan. When Odile receives an alarming letter from her sister, she plunges into the city, determined to save her and bring her home. Along the way she encounters Sylvan the Dogboy, a bare-knuckle boxer who has recently discovered an abandoned baby in a privy; Mrs. Bloodworth, who helps pregnant girls arrange adoptions under the table; and a group of children at the underground gambling parlor the Frog and Toe who know more about her sister's fate than she does. At the same time that Odile's search unfolds, the book also follows Alphie, who has woken up at the Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island and must try to remember the circumstances that led her to be committed to that place of abuse and humiliation. Parry's writing is smooth and descriptive, and she imbues these misfit characters and shabby, sometimes horrifying settings with energy and depth. But the search that drives the story loses steam about halfway through the book; by cutting back and forth between several different narratives, Parry makes it harder for the reader to connect with these flawed, injured characters until there's a great revelation that brings all the stories together. This surprise revitalizes the novel but also makes its shortcomings more apparent. Beautifully written, Parry's imaginative novel is most successful when exploring the limitations and complexities of gender and sexuality during its historical period.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 15, 2015
        Life is uncommon and strange; it is full of intricacies and odd, confounding turns. This statement made by the opening narrator of Parry's creative debut also describes its characters and story line, which bursts with extraordinary, Dickensian-style details of 1895 New York. Amid the city's grimy waterfronts, opium dens, and other lowlife regions, four impoverished misfits pursue separate missions. The discovery of a newborn baby in the privies outside a tenement prompts Sylvan Threadgill to locate the child's mother, while Odile Church leaves Coney Island to find her sister, Belle, her sideshow partner before fire killed their courageous mother and destroyed their circus. Lastly, young Alphie waits for her undertaker husband to rescue her from an asylum. Their stories twine together in ways that feel surprising when first encountered but were actually carefully planted from the start. Emphasizing the plight of women, orphans, and society's nonconforming outcasts, the setting is superbly showcased, with its medley of sights and smells both wretched and wondrous. Especially recommended for admirers of atmospheric nineteenth-century historicals like Emma Donoghue's Frog Music (2014).(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all.

New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother's spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family's star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell's Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband's vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she...

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