Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.
“Thoroughly researched and lively.” —Vogue
“Elegantly wrought, hardheaded, and tenderhearted.” —Michael Chabon
“Honesty and compassion inform every page, and there are passages so musical and full of grace they read like hymns. Reading groups should rejoice.” —Sigrid Nunez
“[O’Connor] captures the dangerous intersection between private life and the forces of history . . . and gives the reader that rare pleasure of inhabiting another family life that feels at once entirely familiar and new.” —Susan Richards Shreve
Twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob was the most famous of the Victorian fasting girls, who claimed to miraculously survive without food, serving as flashpoints between struggling religious, scientific, and political factions. In this novel based on Sarah’s life and premature death from what may be the first documented case of anorexia, an American journalist, recovering from her husband’s death in the Civil War, leaves her home and children behind to travel to Wales, where she investigates Sarah’s bizarre case by becoming the young girl’s friend and confidante. Unable to prevent the girl’s tragic decline while doctors, nurses, and a local priest keep watch, she documents the curious family dynamic, the trial that convicted Sarah’s parents, and an era’s hysterical need to both believe and destroy Sarah’s seemingly miraculous power.
Intense, dark, and utterly compelling, The Welsh Fasting Girl delves into the complexities of a true story to understand how a culture’s anxieties led to the murder of a child.
Varley O’Connor is the author of five novels, including The Welsh Fasting Girl, The Master’s Muse, and The Cure. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Viola Fisher is the epitome of perfection.
She despises my one-night stands and mocks my less-than-classy habits.
She’s smart, beautiful, and too good to be true. And I want her.
If she were anyone else, I’d have made my move years ago, but considering she’s my best friend’s little sister, she’s always been off-limits.
Not to mention how much she loathes my very existence. Hating me is her religion, but needing her is mine.
Her sexy curves and filthy smart mouth make me want her even more, and I’m more determined than ever to change her mind.
I’ll prove I’m done playing games. But until then, we’ll continue to play by her rules.
Viola Fisher may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over yet.
This is book 2 in the Travis & Viola duet and must be read after This is War.
*Recommended for ages 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.*