Church of Marvels

Church of Marvels

Large Print - 2015
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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.

Publisher: New York :, HarperLuxe,, [2015]
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780062392855
Characteristics: x, 442 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
large print.,rda


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Nov 05, 2018

plot- "historical fantastical fiction" a grat book for anyone who has ever felt like the "them" in us versus them.

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.

Mar 24, 2017

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

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.

Aug 29, 2016

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

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.

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.

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".

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.

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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Jul 07, 2016

lastnightsreadings thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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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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