Varley O'Connor

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.

"Varley O'Connor's beautiful and brilliant novel takes us deep into the mysteries of virtue's conspiracy with evil and the human spirit's war against itself. With spot on historical detail and scintillating language, the novel fascinates and moves us, and uses the story of a nineteenth-century Welsh farm girl to deliver cogent insights into contemporary issues regarding gender and family."

Stephen O'Connor (no relation), author of Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemmings.


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