The Welsh Fasting Girl
Twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob was the most famous of the Victorian fasting girls, who claimed to miraculously survive without food. She served as a flashpoint between struggling religious, scientific, and political factions. In this novel based on Sarah's life and premature death, an American journalist leaves her home and children to travel to Wales, where she investigates Sarah's 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.
A moving, masterful story. . . . O'Connor's recreation of this world and its people is haunted and haunting, with marvelous poetry and human sorrow resonating in every line.
Historical Novels Review
O'Connor takes the story of Sarah Jacob, one of history's most noteworthy fasting girls, and turns this 150-year-old tale into a freshly poignant commentary on family dynamics and the treatment of women.
Miracle Monocle Magazine
O'Connor's poignant tale addresses numerous relevant and timely issues, from cultural anxiety to female empowerment or the lack thereof, and the painful and often tragic condition of eating disorders.