Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sister Noon (Karen Joy Fowler)

Sister Noon, a historical novel by Karen Joy Fowler set in San Francisco, stands out from many other historical novels I've read. It begins like a Robert Altman film, with many characters introduced mid-conversation while you try to figure out who is who and what in the world is going on. But, like an Altman film, the confusion isn't frustrating because the writing and mystery is so good that you want to keep reading to figure out what's going on in this strange, long-forgotten, magical world. The story includes an orphanage called the Brown Ark, a middle-aged "spinster" easily swayed by her imagination and adventures in novels, and a powerful woman who is black, but used to pass as white, and who has been accused both of baby farming and voodoo.

The suspense continues throughout the book, with brief chapters that leave you hanging and wanting to continue on to the next. Although I enjoyed this book, I thought the two other Fowler books I've read (The Jane Austen Book Club and The Sweetheart Season) were even better than this one, but all three definitely showcase what a great writer and storyteller Fowler is.

Next book up: The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

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