Church of Marvels

Church of Marvels

Book - 2015
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Set in the vibrant and tumultuous world of turn-of-the-century New York, the lives of four outsiders become entwined over the course of one fateful night.
Publisher: Toronto :, Harper Avenue,, [2015]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781443438124
Branch Call Number: FIC Parry
Characteristics: x, 308 pages

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Kirsten_Library Dec 14, 2017

Haunting, disturbing book which interweaves the stories of 4 individuals. Hard to follow at the beginning until you get into each of the storylines. After a slow start I found that it became hard to put down.

j
johnnyknuckles
Nov 11, 2017

I wanted to love this, it's exactly the kind of novel I look for. But...
I applaud the author's research & the unexpected settings & characters--these are lives & places I'd like to explore. But the writing is...a cardboard version of writing. It reads like a series of extended writing exercises & prompts pasted together. "Imagine the character woke up on a boat. What would she hear, see, feel, smell." "Describe the night. Describe the darkness. How dark is it? Choose 2 adjectives".
I would describe the author as a talented researcher, & I love the world she is mining, but the more I read the more my excitement & interest waned. The writing is extremely disappointing. I couldn't finish the novel, & I'm one of those stubborn readers who almost always sticks with it to "find out what happens".

m
Memawrayne
Mar 24, 2017

I enjoyed it more that I expected. I agree with the previous comments about the book.

c
cknightkc
Nov 30, 2016

I was totally mesmerized by the masterfully crafted CHURCH OF MARVELS - hard to believe this is a debut novel! It is unique and totally different from the books I usually read. There are 4 main characters, all damaged and living on the margins of turn-of-the-century society, but each seeking family, belonging, and acceptance in his or her own way. Suspense slowly builds as 3 distinct storylines are followed until by means of a series of cleverly plotted twists and turns, secrets are revealed, and the lives of these 4 seemingly disparate individuals converge. Of interest too are the interconnections between and among the various supporting players. Very atmospheric and rich in detail (sensitive readers beware!), their tales are told against the background of 1895 New York City with the dark, gritty underbellies of Coney Island and Manhattan on full display. To be best enjoyed, I recommend reading this book in long sittings (if time permits) in order to keep track of the various and intricate story threads. With CHURCH OF MARVELS author Leslie Parry has written a very engaging mystery and created some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction. I look forward to reading more by Ms. Parry.

k
KellyReader
Aug 29, 2016

Very interesting in the historical details. Interesting characters. Depth and heart. Recommend for sure.

e
EmilyEm
Feb 07, 2016

Readers are taken into the teeming underbelly of turn-of-the-20th century New York City and the backstage of the title attraction on Coney Island. Four characters will eventually have their lives intersect. And that's quite a mystery. Parry's debut fiction was recommended by a Chicago friend’s book group and it doesn’t disappoint. These characters have pretty grim lives, but once their adventures intersect I couldn’t put this book down. Sylvan, Belle, Odile and Alphie. You hope their lives have happy endings.

m
MplsPeggy
Dec 01, 2015

This book was highly entertaining, full of history and suspense and characters that you'll love and hate. One reviewer writes, "Rarely have I read any novel that gripped me so viscerally from the first page," and I couldn't agree more.

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FVReader
Nov 10, 2015

Hmmmm, the author is a graduate of a Writer's Workshop. That may explain the "overly adjectivated" writing style
The basic story is good. There's suspense, twists and turns, adventure. It's all there, the elements of a good story. But it's told through coincidences.
Somewhere in the depths of this book is the insight that freaky as the "freak" show of a circus is, real life in "normal" terms is freakier yet.
For a debut novel, this isn't bad. I wouldn't dismiss another book by the author. This story is unique and shows an author who has a story to tell that is interesting and intriguing. I would, though, hope for less "workshop", less "coincidences" and more "engagement".

v
vv8
Aug 06, 2015

The way Parry used language to give readers a sense of time and place shined in this book. The vivid imagery was my favorite part. The plot was intricately woven but wandered a bit too far at times, as Parry seemed to intentionally hide many major plot twists until the last third of the book - when it seemed that earlier revelations may have been more natural. Despite that minor quibble, this book was an enjoyably twisted romp through some of 19th century Manhattan's darkest corners.

a
aliciamarie
Aug 05, 2015

My mind is racing with all the things I want to say about this book that I don't even know where to start. I guess I should start by telling you that Church of Marvels is Leslie Parry's debut novel. That being said, her plot line is phenomenal! To have a mind like hers and be able to plot and plan a book like this...just WOW!!!
This story takes place in 1895 New York City. I love books that take place a) in NYC and b) anytime turn-of-the-century through the 1920s. Those facts alone had me interested. Then you throw in characters with interesting and out of the ordinary professions/lives and I immediately fall in love.
Sylvan Threadgill is a night soiler in charge of cleaning out the privies behind tenement houses. He rescues a baby discarded among the muck. Odile Church and her twin sister, Belle, were raised by their mother in The Church of Marvels- a sideshow on Coney Island. The church burns to the ground and their mother dies in the fire. Belle takes off to Manhatten leaving Odile alone, scared and desperate to find her sister. A young woman named Alphie awakes to find she has been locked away in an insane asylum across the river with very little memory of how she got there. She meets another young woman, a patient also on the ward, who can't speak, but who holds a special talent that may be able to help break them both out.
Throughout the book, these characters become entwined. Slowly but surely I began to realize how each where connected to one another. Small (minute) details and questions I had that stuck out while reading were beautifully and creatively brought to a conclusion I never even imagined. Through love and loss, friendships and loneliness, hope and despair, they all come together in a spectacular way. Even when I thought the author had wrapped up every little morsel of explanation, another little secret/conclusion is spilled that blew me away! The less you know about the story line, the better this book will be! Trust me.
The writing style of Parry and the words she uses to describe the sights, smells, and the characters' thoughts and feelings in this book are so engulfing.It's easy to imagine you are right there in late 19th century NYC. She has a magical way with words, even when she describes the horrid, deplorable, and striking conditions of places mentioned in this book.
I highly recommend this book. This is easily one of my favorite books and I can't wait to read more from Leslie Parry. When you start to read, and near the end, and think you have figured it out, be warned- it doesn't end the way you think it will end. Once the last page is turned this story will haunt your thoughts for the rest of the day.

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lastnightsreadings
Jul 07, 2016

lastnightsreadings thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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cknightkc
Nov 30, 2016

There were streets named Mulberry and Orchard and Cherry, streets bright and tart, streets with a color and a taste. But Ludlow sounded heavy and numb, like a mouth with a bitten tongue. - page 59

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