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Church of Marvels: A Novel
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Published:
HarperCollins 2015
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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:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/05/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062367570
ASIN:
B00MTSKHWW
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

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

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

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

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

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

MLA Citation (style guide)

Leslie Parry. Church of Marvels: A Novel. HarperCollins, 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 16:57:13
Date Updated:
Nov 07, 2022 21:04:09
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Jan 29, 2023 08:23:17
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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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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
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      • source: Emma Donoghue, author of ROOM
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        "This quite literally marvelous novel takes you on a hallucinatory ride through old New York, until the four threads of its protagonists' lives tangle and tighten like a noose. Irresistible." — Emma Donoghue, author of ROOM

        "[A] beautifully written tale ... I loved the circus-seaside atmosphere mingled with the grit of turn of the century New York, the cast of characters possessed with such spirit to survive in terrible circumstances, and the bittersweet finale. A skillful triumph, undertaken with masterful scope." — Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist

        "Read this book for its gorgeous writing, for its Gilded Age, a marvel of richly-imagined éblouissance and finely-grained squalor. But most of all, read it for the moment when everything you thought you knew about one of its heroines turns upside down, leaving you breathless, astonished, and blessed." — Ellis Avery, author of The Last Nude

        "Rarely have I read any novel that gripped me so viscerally from the first page, and continued to stoke my burning interest to the last... its plot is wound like a Swiss watch and its characters devastatingly real. This book is important for more reasons than I can list." — Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham

        "[U]tterly captivating... In her first novel, Parry... has proven herself more than capable of sustaining suspense, with a succession of cliffhangers compelling us to turn the page... this book demands a second read." — Kansas City Star

        "This is not your everyday New York City novel. Set in 1895 in Coney Island and the Lower East Side, the novel follows separate lives and sets each on a weird and magical journey and has them all intertwining in a delicate dance as the novel progresses." — Refinery29, 21 New Authors You Need To Know

        "Parry vividly brings her characters to life and captures the underbelly of 1895 New York...Her novel satisfies as a complex historical fiction, a compelling mystery, and an insightful exploration of such themes as otherness and outsider identity." — Publishers Weekly

        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." — Booklist

        "Parry's writing is smooth and descriptive, and she imbues these misfit characters and shabby, sometimes horrifying settings with energy and depth. Beautifully written, Parry's imaginative novel is most successful when exploring the limitations and complexities of gender and sexuality during its historical period." — Kirkus Reviews

        "Parry renders her band of misfit protagonists...in mesmerizing, living color[,] handles the plot's juggling act with admirable poise, and both the adventure and the heartbreak that results will give you thrills and chills." — Bustle, 18 Best Books To Either Read By Yourself Or Share With Your Mom This Month

        "A thoughtful and satisfying modern work.... At times it reads like a Sarah Waters novel...Utterly electrifying, this is the kind of novel readers will race through, only to turn the final page feeling ever so slightly heartbroken that the story has reached its end." — BookPage.com

        "Leslie Parry's debut novel, Church of Marvels, is saturated with enthralling characters making their way through the turbulence of...

      • 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.

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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...

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