Young Tessa is a diminutive girl, far too small for farm work and the object of ridicule by both her own family and the other children in their isolated Midwestern community. Her father seems to believe in nothing beyond his crops, certainly not education for his misfit daughter. When a mysterious, entrancing librarian comes to town, full of fabulous stories, earthy wisdom and potions for the lovelorn, she takes Tessa under her wing, teaching her to read and to believe in herselfand a whole new magical world of possibilities opens up. But even as she blooms, Tessas father begins sexually abusing her. And her mentor carries a dark secret of her own that finally causes her to drown herself. Tessa runs off, following Marys footsteps, to join the circus as a trapeze artist, where she marries a loving man and finds a fulfilling life for herself amidst her new circus family. But she remains haunted by her past. And when a stranger from one of Marys fabulist tales shows up, Tessa risks everything to follow him to Rain Village, where she might finally discover her mentors tragic secret.
A brilliantly evocative debut set in the early part of the 20th century, steeped in emotional turbulence and down-to-earth wisdom, where a young woman must reconcile the inner traumas from her past and learn to live in the present in order to avoid becoming prisoner to her future. Rain Village casts a fabulous spell, pulling us into a world of mystery and possibility where love, friendship and loyalty might either destroy or set one free.
As a first novel, Rain Village is worthy of note and bodes well for Turgeon in the future. However, it is not without its flaws; the initially invigorating plot seems to peter out into magical realism towards the end which, in the context of a storyline that up until that point had been based more or less in reality, seemed to be an odd direction to veer off into so firmly. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Curled Up with a Good Book
Weaving together the inscrutable forces of memory, spirit, desire and regret and imbedding her narrative with a sense of the dream-like, Turgeon has written an exquisite, quite moving account of one girl’s search through history in an effort to fill the inscrutable holes that nothing else can reach.
Booklist - Carolyn Kubisz
Turgeon's quirky first novel explores the power of secrets and how happiness is found in searching for truth.
Turgeon, in her debut, turns in a credible Francesca Lia Block-style fable, but ...the conclusion is abrupt.
Delicate, evocative prose with nods to magical realism and strongly wrought characters meets with cliches of the circus setting and an anticlimactic ending... but an author to watch.
Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope Bookstore
Imagine a world where every fantastic story your best friend told you turns out to be true. Imagine knowing you’re a freak, but discovering later that you’re a star. Imagine a painful childhood, a mentor who shows you how to dream, and equips you to escape. Imagine running away to join the circus, and finding there the family you’ve longed for. Imagine these things, and you’ve imagined the world of Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon. A fairy tale in the best sense of that word, Rain Village is as magical as Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but grounded in this world. Mary gives Tessa a life, but cannot save her own in this lyrical story about knowing yourself and finding your place in the world.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Louise J Magical Masterpiece! You won’t believe what happens to little Tessa from Oakley, Kansas once she finds the circus. This story is simply a masterpiece.
Carolyn Turgeon was born in Michigan grew up in Illinois, Texas, Michigan and
Pennsylvania. She studied English and Italian literature at Penn State and
received a Master's in Comparative Literature from UCLA. Rain Village is
her first novel. She works for a non-profit in New York and lives in Queens.
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