Varley O'Connor

At home in Cleveland Heights with feline literary critic.


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.

The Master's Muse
Varley O'Connor's fourth novel (Scribner, May 2012) is based on the life of George Balanchine’s fifth wife, a star ballerina whose career was cut short when she contracted polio at age twenty-six.

The Cure
“This sublimely written novel takes on large issues such as illness, race, family relations, and the varieties of human love. Honesty and compassion inform every page, and there are passages so musical and full of grace they read like hymns. Reading groups should rejoice at this book.”
--Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind

A Company of Three
“An old-fashioned novel, in the best sense of that phrase, elegantly wrought, hard-headed, and tenderhearted about the world of actors and theater.”
--Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay

Like China
“ ...O’Connor has put together a story about loss, betrayal, growing up and the often-peculiar nature of relationships. If that sounds like a lot for one novel, maybe it is... But this book works anyway, simply because O’Connor’s many-faceted, carefully wrought characters are absolutely compelling.”
--Victoria Diaz, Michigan’s Observer Eccentric


A nineteenth-century American woman journalist becomes deeply invested in the tragic case of a young Welsh girl. This novel delves into the complexities of a true story in order to understand how a culture's anxieties led to the murder of a child.
A novel about the relationship between Tanaquil Le Clercq and George Balanchine, told from her point of view. Balanchine was the greatest ballet master of the 20th century, and Le Clercq, a brilliant ballerina who contracted polio at the height of her career, was his fifth wife.
A novel about a family bound together and almost torn apart by a son’s polio.
A bittersweet elegy of three actor friends facing the realities of their dreams.

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