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The Fainting Room
     

The Fainting Room

3.3 31
by Sarah Pemberton Strong
 

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Ray Shepard is a wealthy architect who has mystified his friends by marrying Evelyn, a woman who works at a nail salon. Evelyn, in turn, hides a secret past about her former life in the circus, her ex-husband’s mysterious death, and the colorful tattoos she carefully conceals under her clothes. When Evelyn starts to cave under the pressure of living in

Overview

Ray Shepard is a wealthy architect who has mystified his friends by marrying Evelyn, a woman who works at a nail salon. Evelyn, in turn, hides a secret past about her former life in the circus, her ex-husband’s mysterious death, and the colorful tattoos she carefully conceals under her clothes. When Evelyn starts to cave under the pressure of living in Ray’s rarified world, she suggests they take in Ingrid, a sixteen-year-old girl with blue hair, a pet iguana, and no place to stay for the summer. As Evelyn and Ray both make her their confidante, drawing her into the heart of what threatens their marriage, Ingrid increasingly adopts the noir alter ego of “Detective Slade”—fedora and all—in order to solve the mysteries that engulf all three characters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a masterful exploration of longing and its consequences, Strong throws a teenager who craves attention, an architect in crisis, and a beautiful newlywed into an emotionally explosive triangle. Sixteen-year-old Ingrid is suspended from her boarding school and taken in by privileged Bostonian Ray Shepard and his troubled wife Evelyn. Evelyn grew up in a traveling circus with high-wire parents and married an abusive sword-swallower who later died. Ray offers the stability Evelyn has fantasized about all her life, but they’re both frustrated by the difficulty she has with adjusting to his uptight lifestyle. Along with the tattoos that cover most of her body, Evelyn hides her background from Ray’s friends and colleagues and has no job or friends of her own. Precocious, manipulative newcomer Ingrid soon has both Shepherds confiding in her. A thin mystery thread serves two entwined purposes in Strong’s second novel (after Burning the Sea): the unraveling of Evelyn’s secrets, and the evolution of Ingrid’s noir-inspired alter ego. The magic, however, doesn’t lie in the past, where the narrative veers dangerously close to melodrama, but in the present, with Strong’s spellbinding insights into the complexity of desire. Agent: Cameron McClure, the Donald Maass Literary Agency. (May)
From the Publisher

“A deliciously creepy and intense story.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Part detective story, part mystery, Strong’s second novel (after Burning the Sea) delivers complex, entertaining characters and will attract readers who enjoy genre-blending, cutting-edge fiction."--Library Journal

“…a masterful exploration of longing and its consequences.”—Publishers Weekly

“Laced with sex and menace, carried along by Strong's hypnotic prose, The Fainting Room takes the genre of suburban drama and turns it inside out. Tom Perotta would be proud. So might David Lynch.”—Brian Francis Slattery, author, Lost Everything

“Part noir, part romance, and part three-ring circus, The Fainting Room is filled with secrets: secret lives, secret desires, even secret skin. Like a high wire act, Strong keeps us on the edge of our seats, turning pages as quickly as we can and rooting for her three damaged, complicated, wonderful characters to succeed.”—Diana Wagman, author, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets

Library Journal
Ingrid, a 16-year-old temporarily homeless "punk," is invited for the summer to the home of Ray, a classy architect who always knows what wine to serve with dinner, and Evelyn, a former circus performer and "tattooed lady." Ray and Evelyn have a precarious marriage in which neither partner communicates real thoughts and feelings. Both are on the verge of a mental breakdown, and they invite Ingrid as a distraction. Ingrid ferrets out the couple's true feelings and insecurities by befriending them individually. She talks with Ray about architecture and pulp detective novels, even going so far as to write one of her own. Evelyn and Ingrid connect on a more juvenile level, drinking together and spending time at the arcade and carnival. VERDICT Part detective story, part mystery, Strong's second novel (after Burning the Sea) delivers complex, entertaining characters and will attract readers who enjoy genre-blending, cutting-edge fiction. In true detective/noir fashion, the novel is oversexed, but the character development is original and interesting.—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Strong (Burning the Sea, 2002) presents a disturbing and erotic narrative about the lives of an oddly matched married couple who host a teenage girl for the summer. Ray Shepard is a prominent architect who marries Evelyn, a former circus employee/manicurist with a dark past, after he meets her while both attend a show under the big top. Evelyn's arms and torso are heavily tattooed, and she keeps her skin hidden from Ray's colleagues and friends; but Ray is sexually aroused by the images and colors beneath her long sleeves and buttoned-up collars. Evelyn knows she doesn't fit into Ray's privileged world and believes that his peers are more judgmental than her naïve husband realizes. Her clumsy attempts to adapt end in failure and resentment on her part, but Ray innocently believes that once his colleagues and friends get to know his wife, they'll understand exactly why he married her. Enter Ingrid, a rebellious teenager who's been suspended from a nearby boarding school for the summer after being caught with alcohol. Unconventional and emotionally isolated, she's drawn to the flawed couple and becomes a pivotal participant in their dysfunctional world. Ingrid and Ray set up office in a room once called the fainting room, and she types for him while he works on a book about architecture. They soon discover common ground--a passion for hard-boiled detective stories--and Ingrid begins to construct her own fictional character, Detective Slade, a tough, observant character who comes to life as she tries to cope with her own uncertainties. Ray is disturbed by his increasing sexual attraction to Ingrid, and Ingrid's titillated by her feelings for Evelyn. An increasingly murky and uncomfortable tale, Strong's characters are complex and disturbing. Evelyn's past attempts to fit in with her circus family are as darkly amusing as her attempts to be the perfect homemaker. Ray's conventional upbringing, and his one early attempt at outright rebellion, contrasts well with Ingrid's character, so full of feelings of alienation and anger. A deliciously creepy and intense story.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935439769
Publisher:
Ig Publishing
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author


Sarah Strong's previous novel, Burning the Sea, was published in 2002. She is also the poetry editor for The New Haven Review, and her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Southwest Review, The Southern Review, Cream City Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, RATTLE, and The Sun. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter.

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The Fainting Room 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clearly the one-stars have not read the book and are close-minded as to what they consider good literature. This book is captivating and interesting; the author paints the scenes with inflection and narration effortlessly. This book is for mature audiences: it has suggestive material that makes the prudes a little queasy. But that's life...not everything is a fairytale happy ending kind of thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The nook description of the book is one sentence and there were no reviews. It was the middle of a sleepless night and it was the nook deal of the day... so i gave it a try. I had no idea what to expect, which was somewhat refreshing. The story reads a lot like the Great Gatsby... kind of a sudpended reality with a handful of characters that are hard to relate to, but interesting to read about. I didn't love it, and i didn't hate it.... but the story will stay with me for a while. ...wjj
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book! Definitely not for readers under 18. This was a very good portrayal of twisted relationships and characters that are confused about their own lives, relationships and feelings. This was a very good read though, I really enjoyed the plot and the messiness of the characters lives and feelings of what is right and wrong! There is confusion, obsession and overall this was a very good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not for the prudish
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sarah Pemberton Strong knows how to plot a novel, to tell a good story, to take us to a different time and place, but what I love most about The Fainting Room is its characters, every one of them fully rounded, believable, flawed and lovely. Just as I begin to think it’s teenaged Ingrid who steals the show with her combat boots and her fear of radiation, her sharp edges and her naïve vulnerabilities, I veer toward red-headed, tattooed, self-conscious, trying-so-hard Evelyn and think, no, this story is so much hers. And then there’s ordinary, good-hearted, stupid Ray. He, too, is integral to this genre-blurring, energy-charged, quirky story. Strong even knows how to write a satisfying ending, the place where so many novels ultimately falter. Don’t be like the more timid readers on this thread. Don’t let the corporate publishers pick everything you read. Instead, pick up this terrific novel and see what’s out there in the big, wide open sky of indy publishing. Better yet, bring it to your book club and have a rollicking discussion. Serve champagne in coffee mugs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O well
banker247 More than 1 year ago
This book was a very interesting read for me. Once I started it I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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FloridaLorie More than 1 year ago
I liked this book because the plot was quirky and a little twisted!
anonomas More than 1 year ago
This is a very unusual book. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.
3100 More than 1 year ago
Good to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slept.gtgtb bbt!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, everyone. This book is for very mature subjects. I would say 20 through 45
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since the western romantic quilting inspirational chili new mexico and rodeo serial killer and indian/irish cop with recipes and quilt pattern page counter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why would all of you moms even read this piece of books