San Francisco in the Gilded Age: great fortunes are being made and family dynasties established as new money erases the often unsavory pasts and shady dealings of their founders. It is a city bursting at its seams – each day bringing new monuments to unbridled ego and ostentatious bad taste – a city ruled by a self-selected elite grounded in gentility and fueled by gossip and greed.
By dint of birth, Lizzie Hayes is part of this elite. But Lizzie, seemingly so docile, hides within her a passionate heart. All she needs is the spark that will liberate her from the ruling conventions. And that spark is Mary Ellen Pleasant. With her appearance on Lizzie’s doorstep, she brings not only mystery and a whiff of disrepute, but also the key that will unlock Lizzie’s rebellious nature. “You can do anything you want,” she tells Lizzie. “You don’t have to be the same person your whole life.”
“Sister Noon is funny, lyrical, spooky, inspired. It teases, it cavorts, it takes left turns down dark alleys…one of the year’s best reads.”
—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“In Sister Noon, Karen Joy Fowler re-creates a lost world so thrillingly, with such intelligence, trickery, and art, that when you at last put the book down and look up from the page it all seems to linger, shimmering, around you, like the residue of a marvelous dream. No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with great acuity and forgiveness than she does.”
—Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author