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The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters

A Novel

Michelle Lovric


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It's rural Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century, the age of the Pre-Raphaelites, when Europe burns with a passion for long, flowing locks. So when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognize their potential.

Soon, they're a singing and dancing septet: Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not their singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. In an Ireland still hungry and melancholy with the Great Famine, the Swiney hair is a rich offering. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida, and fearful, flame-haired Manticory-the writer of their on- and off-stage adventures-out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring them suitors and obsessive admirers, it will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price.

Rich in period detail, peopled by a bewitching cast of characters, The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters is a tale of exploitation and celebrity, illegitimacy and sibling rivalry, love triangles and financial skullduggery, of death and devilry. And a very great deal of hair.

Praise For The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters: A Novel

“From a gifted novelist comes a gothic tale of love and deception . . . Historical fiction at its finest.” —Booklist, on The Remedy (starred review)

“A bodice ripper for the Mensa set, The Remedy is a ravishing, meticulously authentic buffet of words and sensations.” —Entertainment Weekly, on The Remedy

“A gifted and individual phrase maker--always revealing, never anachronistic, and never, ever lazy . . . Add to this writing talent [Lovric's] many other virtues . . . and you can begin to see how rewarding The Floating Book can be.” —The Washington Post, on The Floating Book

Bloomsbury USA, 9781620400142, 480pp.

Publication Date: August 12, 2014

About the Author

Michelle Lovric is the author of four novels-Carnevale, The Floating Book (winner of a London Arts Award), The Remedy (longlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize) and The Book of Human Skin, as well as four children's books. Her book Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion was a New York Times bestseller. She divides her time between London and Venice.