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Rain Village Hardcover – October 10, 2006

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tessa is a very small girl in a family of giants. And, much to her family's bewilderment and ridicule, she isn't cut out for farmwork. Instead, Tessa gets a job at the local library, where the enigmatic librarian, Mary, with her stories of the circus and potions for the lovelorn, takes Tessa under her wing and teaches her the art of trapeze flying. When life gets difficult at home and Mary unexpectedly drowns herself, Tessa escapes to the circus. Over time, Tessa finds a home among the circus performers, falls in love with a wonderful man, and becomes a mother. However, when a stranger comes around talking about Mary, all of Tessa's old feelings bubble back to the surface. She must decide between the life she knows or risk it all to follow this stranger, who can lead her to the place that may hold the secret to Mary's death. Turgeon's quirky first novel explores the power of secrets and how happiness is found in searching for truth. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books; First Printing edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932961240
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932961249
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village; Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story; Mermaid; The Next Full Moon, her first children's book; and The Fairest of Them All. She's also the editor of Faerie Magazine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Little Tessa Riley is a tiny, diminutive twelve-year-old girl who barely stands four feet tall. She was born with hands the size of small plums and fingers like star fish. She is far too small to help on the family farm harvesting corn and potatoes. Tessa can't even hold one large potato with both hands. Her mother, father, sister, and two brothers, all think she is a freak. They call her mean and hurtful names like: munchkin, tramp, and black-haired Jezebel. Her mother forces her to hang from a curtain rod for hours on end hoping it will stretch her little body so she'll be less of a freak.

Her father is a loud, gigantic man who likes to Lord his power over those who are weaker than he is. Her meek mother runs around clutching rosary beads but isn't even Catholic, and is bent over the table reading her Bible every night.

Tessa had heard there was a new librarian in town who seemed to have a strange affect on the men, her own father included. After lunch one day, Tessa decided to get down from her "stretching rod" and run her way to town in hopes of seeing this woman without getting caught by her father.

Sitting on the front steps of the Oakley, Kansas City library, Tessa was trying to decide whether she should go inside or not. She looked up and there was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen and the woman was looking right at her! The woman had striking blue eyes, brown freckled skin and long, wavy, shiny black hair. Mary Finn, the librarian, turned her cat like eyes on Tessa and invited her into the library with her. Tessa was thrilled. Once inside, Tessa thought Mary smelled of: "...the spices my mother baked oranges in." Her wrists were adorned with jingly bracelets and she wore a long flowing skirt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janet B on February 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This story takes place in Oakley, Kansas. Tessa Riley is the narrator of this tale. She is twelve years old, a short person with oddly shaped hands. Because of this abnormality, she is unable to work on her father's farm. She lives with her father who is an over powering giant of a man, whose only concern in life are his potatoes and corn. Education for his children is not important to him. Tessa's mother is a meek and very religious woman who works on the farm during the day and the evenings are spent reading the bible. The family is not religious, but the mother walks around with her rosary beads. There is a sister, Geraldine, a mean spirited girl and two older brothers. Her family and the villagers laugh at Tessa and call her all sorts of bad names. Her mother forces Tessa to hang on to a curtain rod for many hours, thinking by pulling and stretching, she will get taller.

There's a new librarian in town. Her name is Mary Finn. People are saying that she has a wild gypsy past. After the library closes, the villagers are also saying that she has secret lovers coming by. She's driving the men crazy. A woman like that is trouble!

Tessa decides to go to the Mercy library to see for herself who everyone is talking about. She sits on the stairs wondering if she should go in. She is timid but VERY curious. As she looks up, she sees a beautiful woman, with blue eyes, brown freckled skin and long, wavy shiny black hair. She is wearing a long bright flowing skirt, silver earrings that hang to her shoulders and bangles on her wrists. She smells of cinnamon. She is a vision to behold. She invites Tessa into the library. Tessa is thrilled to death.

Mary chats with Tessa. Tessa opens up to her and tells her of her horrible life at home and the body stretching.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Twisting and curling and jumping high atop the Velasquez Circus big top, Tessa Riley has come along way from her sheltered life as the reticent girl growing up in the small town of Oakley in rural Kansas. Yet the vestiges of her old life still remain, steadily haunting her, and deep down she knows that she must reconcile her new world with the life of Mary Finn, her mentor and the woman who once inspired her.

As Rain Village opens, the sixteen-year-old Tessa is working on her parents' farm. The family comes from a long line of farmers, whose lives have been controlled by the seasons, but Tessa doesn't fit into this hardscrabble life of constantly digging and hauling crops. Desperately wishing for more, her longings are sparked by the arrival in town of Mary Finn, the new librarian, rumored to have a wild gypsy past and secret lovers who visit her after the library is closed.

Despite whisperings from the townsfolk and from her sister Geraldine that Mary makes everyone crazy, Tessa gets a job at the Library so she can get closer to this strange and mysterious woman. Whilst Tessa's mother brands Mary a jezebel and the library an unholy place and her abusive father bans books from the house, Tessa ignores them, giving herself over to the books "raging with life around her," and to Mary, seduced by her kindness, her beautiful words and stories, and her tarot cards, herbs and tea leaves.

Tessa soon leans that Mary was once a circus artist, who left this life she had loved so much to retire to this silent town, to quietly catalogue books. She also discovers that Mary once ran away from a place called Rain Village, leaving her mother, father sister and everything she'd known, after her lover William tragically drowned.
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