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Mac's Backs Femme Book Club discusses The Welsh Fasting Girl by Varley O'Connor.

Twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob was the most famous of the Victorian fasting girls, who claimed to miraculously survive without food, serving as flashpoints between struggling religious, scientific, and political factions. In this novel based on Sarah's life and premature death from what may be the first documented case of anorexia, an American journalist, recovering from her husband's death in the Civil War, leaves her home and children behind to travel to Wales, where she investigates Sarah's bizarre case by becoming the young girl's friend and confidante. Unable to prevent the girl's tragic decline while doctors, nurses, and a local priest keep watch, she documents the curious family dynamic, the trial that convicted Sarah's parents, and an era's hysterical need to both believe and destroy Sarah's seemingly miraculous power. Intense, dark, and utterly compelling, The Welsh Fasting Girl delves into the complexities of a true story to understand how a culture's anxieties led to the murder of a child.

Varley O'Connor is the author of five novels, including The Welsh Fasting GirlThe Master's Muse, and The Cure. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

"The real miracle lies in the capacity of Sarah's singular, dark fate to illuminate the socioeconomic, religious, scientific, philosophic, and political cultures and conflicts of [the] time. . . . A transcendent historical novel." --Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"[A] moving novel. . . . O'Connor's bleak, powerful story serves as an affecting homage to a girl whose community failed to protect her." --Publishers Weekly

The book will be available at Mac's Backs or through our website,, at the 20% book club discount.

Event date: 
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 7:30pm to 8:45pm
Event address: 
1820 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
The Welsh Fasting Girl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942658627
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bellevue Literary Press - May 7th, 2019