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Pinkerton's Sister [Hardcover]

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Item description for Pinkerton's Sister by Peter Rushforth...

In a novel that celebrates the power of fiction and its ultimate redeeming quality, Alice Pinkerton transports those who belittle her into her own secretly written books where they are forced to reveal their true natures, in a novel set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century New York.

Publishers Description
New York at the turn of the century; a city bursting with new life. Out near Hudson Heights, Longfellow Park - an area of wealth and position - is being torn apart to make way for the newly rich and ambitious who threaten to engulf the long-standing residents. The new century brings with it a new order.
But they still have their traditions, these older families, still have their respectability, their position, their culture. The grander ones even have statues made in their image. Yet, like so many well-orchestrated worlds, their houses contain secrets, rooms, people that they would prefer the rest of the world not to dwell upon. In the Pinkerton household a nineteenth-century embarrassment remains. Alice Pinkerton.
Alice Pinkerton is almost thirty-five, not mad exactly, but disturbed, foolish, not right in the head. She had a friend once, a black servant girl (regarded in itself as a harbinger of abnormality) but she disappeared one day, never to return. Alice is tolerated (more or less), free to wander about, free to accompany her family to tea parties and cultured soirees, free to be condescended to, to have looks exchanged over her, free to be treated like a simpleton.
But the truth is, Alice's mind is razor sharp, honed by a restless imagination, years of reading, and a profound contempt for her surroundings. Like her namesake in Through the Looking-Glass, Alice Pinkerton too has a mirror through which to enter a different world, only for her the mirror is her books. Left alone to read, to think, she has devoured the world that brings her mind alive: Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe are her inspiration; Jane Eyre (and Bertha Rochester), Maggie Tulliver, Lady Macbeth her companions, sustaining and nourishing her lonely life.
As she moves through the witless world of Longfellow Park, observing its prejudices, its shallow culture and its vanity, its hatred of truth, she transports those who belittle her into these books and into her own - secretly-written - books, where they can no longer hide behind their tea parties and their song recitals, but are forced to act out their true characters, and reveal their true natures.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   727
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 2" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   2.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 8, 2005
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561990  
ISBN13  9781931561990  

Availability  0 units.

More About Peter Rushforth

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Professor Paul Watson is Head of Construction at Sheffield Hallam University.

David Gibson is Chief Executive of the Association of Building Engineers.

Other joint authors (Peter Rushforth, Stuart Smith, Neil Hanney, Richard Davis, Garry Workman) are senior lecturing staff at Sheffield Hallam University and Catherine Walsh works in private practice. The majority of the author group have had wide practical industry experience.

Peter Rushforth was born in 1945 and died in 2005 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Sheffield Hallam University.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
3Books > Subjects > Romance > Contemporary > General
4Books > Subjects > Romance > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Pinkerton's Sister?

a little goes a LONG way...  Sep 6, 2007
Ok, I get it...but this style is at best really annoying when it is ever present. These mental amblings and (yes, pretentious) references are effective only when placed within a, shall I dare say it, a plot! Otherwise, reading something like this is like constant vibrato and every note trilled. An annoying disappointment.
I gave up on this book!  Sep 18, 2006
I must confess, I did try to read this book. I was on vacation and looking forward to a work of fiction that required a little extra time and effort to enjoy. After all, I had the time to concentrate without interruption! After the first fifty pages, I tried to pretend that it was an assigned book, that I had to finish for an imaginary class, and I still could not do it. Thoughts, thousands of thoughts; I am inside the head of this insane Victorian woman! Most of these thoughts referenced to literary characters, some well-known, and some obscure. It seemed like this entire novel was just a device for the author to display his impressive knowledge of literature. There is no plot, and no action, unless you consider brushing hair an action. I wonder how this drivel got published.
The book that nobody ended up talking about.  Jun 7, 2006
Peter Rushforth, Pinkerton's Sister (MacAdam and Cage, 2005)

Writing a novel where the prose-- it's lyrical qualities, its construction, etc.-- is the focus is an admirable goal. Far too few do it these days. But the best novels of this type-- Wendy Walker's books, Cormac McCarthy's, Kathe Koja's, Lucius Shepard's-- all have one thing in common-- while we're all marveling at the prose, the author never lets us forget that there's something going on beneath the surface, as well. The novels of those authors all have exceptionally strong plots to go with their gorgeous prose. That's what makes their books some of the best in the English language-- you can sink your teeth into them on many different levels.

Rushforth has created a nicely-written book here, but he forgot to add anything to it. Worse off, he's done it in seven hundred fifty-two pages. In books where this sort of thing works (James' The Aspern Papers comes to mind), their brevity is a controlling factor. Rushforth just kept going-- almost three hundred pages of Alice Pinkerton getting ready for church for forty-one chapters, and then a two-hundred-page, one-chapter depiction of the service itself. With, of course, long notes, digressions, and reminiscences from Alice's mind. It just keeps going, and going, and going, like the Energizer bunny.

I devoured the almost-six-hundred pages of McCarthy's Blood Meridian, lingered over the four hundred fifty of Walker's The Secret Service. They were great novels. When MacAdam and Cage's publicists trumpeted this doorstop, which may have gotten a bigger advertising budget than any novel MacAdam and Cage has ever released, as "the book everyone will be talking about in 2005," a small part of me expected something along those lines. To say I didn't get it would be quite the understatement. (And the blurb ended up being quite the overstatement; the novel has garnered a total of four reviews on this site, as I write this, in the years and a half since its release.) In fact, by the time I reached page three hundred of this bloated, overwrought, underperforming monstrosity, I was ready to use it for kindling; it's a good thing I finally abandoned it during one of the hottest weekends Cleveland has had in May in the past century. I ended up just taking it back to the library, so some other poor, unsuspecting fool might try to find something of use in its bloated pages. I couldn't. (zero)
Pretentious  May 15, 2006
If your idea of a novel is something with a plot and conversations, this is not the book for you. This is 400-some pages of rambling, in which nothing really happens. The first 270 pages are filled with what the thoughts of Alice Pinkerton as she gets ready for church, the last 100 or so are her thoughts that evening as she readies for bed. On top of not actually being about anything, this book commits the sin of being pretentious. Ooh, I know who Trilby is, ooh, I know what Lewis Carroll wrote other than the Alice books, ooh, I've read a lot of obscure and not so obscure plays. If you enjoy the unfocused ramblings of the mad, or you like playing find the literary reference, buy the book. If you want a plot and character development, look elsewhere.
Like being alone inside someone's mind.  Jan 31, 2006
The first thing to warn potential readers of this book about - it isn't a story so much as the dialogue happening in a woman's mind. Imagine sitting down in the morning and daydreaming and reminiscing all day. Then sit down and write the whole thing down over 727 pages. That is what Pinkerton's Sister is like to read. Comparisons to James Joyce's "Ulysses" are apt. There is no "action", nothing actually happens. It is just thoughts written down (and it skips and jumps between topics like real thoughts do). So if you place a high value on plot, Pinkerton's Sister is best avoided.

Having said that, the thoughts of Alice, the 35 year-old Victorian spinster, who "reads too much" are interesting. There are witty, cynical observations about the people in her neighbourhood and their social pretensions. There are numerous references to literary classics, from "The Scarlet Letter" to "Frankenstein", "Jane Eyre" and even the Bible. Alice Pinkerton relates all the characters and events in books to those people she knows in real life, and the two become intertwined. A play of reality and fiction forms in her mind, and the reader is invited inside.

In the cave of Alice's mind we find bitterness, frustration and contempt for the world around her, all expressed with witty sarcasm. Alice realises the problem isn't with her, but with the society she lives in. A society where women who are unmarried and read literature are considered mad, and sent to see psychoanalists. She mocks this narrow world by comparing it to the rich and varied one she finds in books, the world of her mind.

The writing style and literary knowledge of the author are great. The insights of Alice are beautiful despite their brutal truth. But unfortunately, I couldn't take 700+ pages of thought without any sort of events. With no "external stimulation" so to speak, I got wearing reading at times. It was like being stuck in an elevator, with nothing to do or see, just your thoughts. At times you just had to "get off" and take a break before returning to the "seclusion" of the book.

If that doesn't bother you, I recommend it. As for me, I sort of wish it had been shorter. The experience was good, and I was glad of it, but it lasted too long. You get the flavour of Alice's thoughts in about 250 pages. After that, they begin to feel repetitive. I resented the loss of time I could have spent reading other books.

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