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Rain Village

Rain Village

3.7 12
by Carolyn Turgeon

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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,


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 herself—and a whole new magical world of possibilities opens up. But even as she blooms, Tessa’s 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 Mary’s 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 Mary’s fabulist tales shows up, Tessa risks everything to follow him to Rain Village, where she might finally discover her mentor’s 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This reviewer kept turning the page, wanting to see what secrets Tessa would unravel."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The book offers great big heapings of magical realism à la Gabriel García Márquez, as well as beguiling eccentrics that bring to mind the characters of Jeffrey Eugenides. The novel centers on Tessa, a pint-sized misfit in a Midwestern farming town, who befriends a fable-spinning librarian who, in turn, spurs her to become a trapeze artist. …a quixotic survival allegory that deftly explores the social mores of early-20th-century America…a fun read.”—SF Weekly

"Turgeon is the ringmaster of an epic tale of beauty and oddity in the astonishing tradition of Middlesex and Memoirs of a Geisha. Circ-lit at its most enthralling."
—Jennifer Belle, author of Going Down and High Maintenance

"I am always thrilled to read a book that begins with dire circumstances and transforms into something as wonder-filled as the world of Oz. Carolyn Turgeon's magical, mysterious tale will unfold before you and rise like the big tent of the greatest show on earth!"
–Kathy L. Patrick, founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club

“[V]ery accomplished…[a] beautiful dream-like tale... While Rain Village is author Carolyn Turgeon's first novel, given the beautiful, redolent imagery, the taut, propelling story line, and the myriad levels on which the novel can be read and analyzed, there's nothing to suggest Rain Village is not the work of a master…set to be a break through first novel which will be read and talked about for years to come.”—The Nougat Magazine (KY)

“The book highlights the power that librarians and books have to transform a life… Turgeon remembers what it's like to be a child, often bewildered and entranced by magic or even simple kindness. And she writes it beautifully. She captures libraries' ability to open up horizons, which must have been extraordinarily strong in the early 20th century, Turgeon's chosen time frame, when reading and the circus coming to town were the only magic in many people's lives… the book is satisfying and assured.”—The Durango Herald

Publishers Weekly
Tessa Riley, mocked by one and all for being "about a third of the size of the usual kind," resides uneasily in the early 20th-century farming community of Oakley, Kans., avoiding her rigid, abusive father; Bible-thumping mother; and aggressively normal siblings whenever she can. But Tessa, who narrates, finds comfort in Mary Finn, the newly arrived librarian to whom everyone has an attraction of one sort of another (leading, natch, to difficulty and resentment). Mary, known as Marionetta during her days as a flyer in the Velasquez Circus, teaches Tessa to read and tells her stories about a fantastical place called Rain Village; Tessa uses the stories, and Mary's attention, as an escape from ridicule and from her father's sexual abuse. Following Mary's enigmatic suicide, Tessa runs to Kansas City and waits for the circus to arrive, and ultimately becomes its star. She marries Mauro, one of the Flying Ramirez Brothers, but she continues to obsess over Mary and her stories. When Mary's nephew Costas arrives at the circus and announces that he is going to Rain Village, Tessa chooses to join him, unsure what she'll find there. Turgeon, in her debut, turns in a credible Francesca Lia Block-style fable, but the mystery of Mary's suicide and of Rain Village itself aren't enough to sustain interest in Tessa's quest. The conclusion is abrupt and leaves Tessa stranded. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Twelve-year-old Tessa Riley, too small to help out on her impoverished family's Kansas farm, instead assists her small town's beautiful and mysterious new librarian, Mary Finn. Along with work in the library, Tessa helps Mary with her fortune-telling business and learns aerial acrobatics once Mary's past as a star circus performer is revealed. Tessa's friendship with Mary deepens as neglect at home degenerates into abuse. When tragedy spurs Tessa to leave home at age 16, she joins the Velasquez Circus (where Mary, a.k.a. Marionetta, had been a featured aerialist) and finds stardom and fulfillment as well as love and a happy marriage. The gnawing hole in her heart left by Mary's absence may at last be filled when a mysterious stranger from Mary's past takes Tessa to Rain Village, Mary's mystical hometown. Delicate, evocative prose with nods to magical realism and strongly wrought characters meets with clich s of the circus setting and an anticlimactic ending in editor and freelance-writer Turgeon's unrealized first novel. Young adults may appreciate Tessa's journey, set in the early 20th century. An optional purchase for fiction collections but an author to watch. Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll., Northeast Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Unbridled Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

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Rain Village 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In Oakley, Kansas, tiny twelve years old Tessa Riley is so small she is unable to help her parents or her three normal siblings with the farm. In fact her mother insists that Tessa do one job, stretching exercises so that she would grow to a normal size and no longer be a freak. Tessa feels all alone as everyone in the community and her family following the leads of her abusive father and bible quoting mother treat her like a pathetic sideshow reject.---------- The new librarian Mary Finn has all the townsfolk hopping as she enchantsthe men with her beauty and the women with envy. Mary especially takes a liking to diminutive Tessa telling her tales from her days as the flying Marionetta with the Velasquez Circus. She teaches the child to read and tells her enchanting tales about the residents of Rain Village. Tessa uses the stories to hide her hurt from the scorn of all (except Mary who encourages her) and the sexual assaults of her father. When Mary apparently commits suicide, a distraught now sixteen years old Tessa flees to Kansas City where she joins the circus and marries flyer Mauro Ramirez until her late mentor¿s nephew Costas arrives and tells her he is going to Rain Village.--------------- Though the ending is unwisely rushed, RAIN VILLAGE has a Brigadoon like feel to the wonderful historical tale. Tessa may be short, but she holds the coming of age tale together as she is a fully developed character whether she is preadolescent, teenager, or adult. Mary is more mystical in nature (like her village and the circus) adding to the overall enchantment. Carolyn Turgeon provides a fine early twentieth century character study that brings out a more isolated era.----------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rain Village is first a story about loss and longing and second about living a life in the circus. Turgeon has a gentle yet powerful style of writing that catches and holds you suspended from word to word. At times, the secondary characters of Mary and Lollie felt more developed than that of central character Tessa, manifesting itself in confusing emotional outbursts and seemingly uncharacteristic decisions. The story, broken down into three parts, is rich with beautiful scenes of aerial-training and haunting backdrops. When you finish the last page you will may find you were holding your breath throughout it all.
patTX More than 1 year ago
But, the story did not hold true to the setting for the story. I am from Kansas and have friends from Oakley. Why was it important to dwell on this town. And she walked from Oakley to Kansas City. Do you know how many miles the character would have walked? Kansas City had a sweat-shop factory? These locations are real, but the story had holes that need to be filled in for the reader. There needs to be more research. The book left me wanting!!!