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Subtle undercurrents of race and class propel this intriguing novel laden with historic fact and fancy, mystery, voodoo, frontier rough-and-tumble and turn-of-the-century social conventions. The characters rooted in this rich, exotic loam are an unforgettable crop. In 1890s San Francisco, Lizzie Hayes is a 40-year-old spinster, the well-born volunteer treasurer of the Ladies' Relief and Protection Society Home, familiarly called the Brown Ark because of its "shipwrecked, random air, like something the tides had left. In this respect, it matched the fortunes of most of its residents." One day, the notorious, fascinating and possibly dangerous Mrs. Mary Ellen Pleasant arrives at the door of the Brown Ark with a girl, Jenny Ijub, a disturbing and winsome child, perhaps four years old, rumored to be the daughter of a mother buried at sea and an unknown father, though Lizzie suspects he could be rich and thus a valuable resource for the Home. Every character's tale is complicated, unpredictable and often engrossing. Mrs. Pleasant, for instance, is a former slave (or is she?), wealthy as a railroad baron, charitable, a witch and a legendary cook. Still beautiful at 70, she is a purported dealer in underground markets where sex, opium and even murder are for sale. Fowler (Sarah Canary; The Sweetheart Season) moves her principals through time and space seamlessly and gracefully, and exquisitely renders San Francisco as it grows from outpost to city. The temporal shifts and the unreliability of some characters' histories may be temporarily disorienting, but readers who bear with Fowler will be handsomely rewarded.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In Gilded Age-era San Francisco, fortyish spinster Lizzie Hayes is by any measure a good woman. She busies herself with worthy, conservative projects, especially her role as volunteer treasurer and fund-raiser for the Ladies' Relief and Protection Society Home. She does what is expected when it is expected. None in her circle suspects that a risk-taking spirit hides just beneath the surface. But when Lizzie crosses paths with the influential and notorious Mrs. Mary Ellen "Mammy" Pleasant, opportunities for intrigue, passion, and subversion abound, and Lizzie plunges in with enthusiasm. This witty novel is a deft blend of historical fact, urban myth, social satire, and romance. Fans of E.L. Doctorow and Fowler's previous fiction (Sara Canary, The Sweetheart Season, and Black Glass) will enjoy.
- Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I found this book extremely boring. I forced myself to read the whole thing because I'm a San Franciscan, but I didn't even feel it captured the city well. Read morePublished on Nov. 14 2003 by DandelionSF
I was very excited to start this book, due to the fact that I live in San Francisco and am always interested in my city's history. Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003
I loved this book. It really draws you in in this wonderful and mystical mood that Fowler creates. I thought the development of the character throughout the book was enchanting... Read morePublished on June 26 2002 by RC
I just finished Sister Noon this morning, and do not know what quite to make of the plot. However, the writing style is superb. Right from the start I enjoyed Fowler's language. Read morePublished on May 23 2002 by Jamie Bourgeois
I so enjoyed this book! I've lived in California, and in New York City. I've often wondered about how "self possessed" the people are in those areas. Read morePublished on April 9 2002
You keep hoping you'll find a book that'll draw you in, enchant you, keep you enthralled until you finish the last word. This is that book. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2001 by Janine Smith
One of my most eagerly anticipated books this year was Karen Joy Fowler's new novel, _Sister Noon_. Fowler is one of my favorite writers. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2001 by Richard R. Horton
Karen Joy Fowler's latest novel is truly a feast for the eyes. In her vivid, terse, yet lyrical, prose, she conjurs up a fantastic view of 19th Century San Francisco, as it evolves... Read morePublished on June 25 2001 by John Kwok
Hugo Award winning author Karen Joy Fowler ("Sarah Canary", 1991) blends fact and fantasy in her bewitching third novel, "Sister Noon. Read morePublished on May 21 2001 by Gail Cooke