Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders: A Novel
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New York Times NOTABLE BOOK OF 2015
"A mesmerizing tale of star-crossed love and of the dark secrets in a fracturing family . . . This novel is so full of wonders that it leaves you haunted, amazed, and, like every great read, irrevocably changed."--Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
The reclusive Harriet Wolf, revered author and family matriarch, has a final confession-a love story. Years after her death, as her family comes together one last time, the mystery of Harriet's life hangs in the balance. Does the truth lie in the rumored final book of the series that made Harriet a world-famous writer, or will her final confession be lost forever?
Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders tells the moving story of the unforgettable Wolf women in four distinct voices: the mysterious Harriet, who, until now, has never revealed the secrets of her past; her fiery, overprotective daughter, Eleanor; and her two grown granddaughters--Tilton, the fragile yet exuberant younger sister, who's become a housebound hermit, and Ruth, the older sister, who ran away at sixteen and never looked back. When Eleanor is hospitalized, Ruth decides it's time to do right by a pact she made with Tilton long ago: to return home and save her sister. Meanwhile, Harriet whispers her true life story to the reader. It's a story that spans the entire twentieth century and is filled with mobsters, outcasts, a lonesome lion, and a home for wayward women. It's also a tribute to her lifelong love of the boy she met at the Maryland School for Feeble-minded Children.
Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders, Julianna Baggott's most sweeping and mesmerizing novel yet, offers a profound meditation on motherhood and sisterhood, as well as on the central importance of stories. It is a novel that affords its characters that rare chance we all long for--the chance to reimagine the stories of our lives while there's still time.
the industrial tip of Baltimore, bitterly cold in winter and oppressively hot in summer, it was a grid of lettered streets, a company town. Row upon row of tiny houses were dwarfed by thick electric wires, conveyors on long metal legs, hulking warehouses. Oily, greasy, smoky, the red dust—just as Eppitt remembered—coating gutters, fence posts, even your own skin. The natural humidity of what was once low-lying marshland combined with the billowing steam from the boiler chimneys made the dust
process.” “Okay, okay, fine.” I offer a quick good-bye and hang up. And now I’m woozy. I press the button for the charge nurse. Maybe I’m having a physical reaction to the idea of Tilton being taken from the house. Or it’s the medications. By the time the nurse arrives, wearing her cartooned smock as if this were the children’s ward, I wave her off. “False alarm,” I say. “I’m fine.” I’m not good with people. I know this. I have to make an effort here, however, because I want the hospital staff
Daisy and Weldon, in their later years, had a house and set out a bowl of hardened candies that got dusted in red pollen from the giant poppies when Daisy left the windows open. Petals from apple trees wafted in, covering the rug, and she vacuumed petals. I opened the windows, hoping that would help, but who thinks up stuff like that? The problem was I didn’t love Weldon Fells and Daisy Brooks. Even once my mother was done writing the books, the two of them still felt like siblings of mine—ones
at the school and I have your number on the birthday list. It’s printed plainly right here next to your daughter’s name: Harriet Wolf, July 11.” Mary Wolf, my sweet mother, let the static fill the phone and then hung up. The phone’s ring was now in her head, a frantic echo. She hadn’t named me. Someone at the school had been given the duty. But the birth date was undeniably right. She called her husband at work and he answered—he was back from lunch now. In fact, he’d missed the Good Wheel’s
down to Chihuahua to see the Mexican Revolution and was never heard from again; Mary Richardson, the suffragette, slashed The Rokeby Venus in the National Gallery in London; Typhoid Mary was a new form of killer; someone invented the light switch. But I was most fascinated by Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy who’d been on a hunting trip when his wife and two children were murdered by Belgium’s Force Publique during its exploitation of rubber in the Congo. An American named Verner traded Ota for a