Mr. Wroe's Virgins
By Jane Rogers
(Overlook Press, Hardcover, 9780879517021, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 1999
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The seven virgins Wroe chooses for himself include a cripple, a badly beaten mute, and two under-age sisters who can hardly read. The story unfolds through the alternating narration of the three remaining sisters: Joanna "the saint, " Hannah the unbeliever donated by her aunt and uncle, and Leah who secretly mothered an illegitimate son. Though Wroe uses the girls as domestic slaves, this is no simple moral allegory. Jane Rogers plays masterfully upon our expectations rendering Wroe as much an enigmatic and challenging figure to each of the virgins, as he is an with iron-handed patriarch -- ultimately providing each of them powerful lessons in independence.