October 18, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sarah Canary

Current Status
In Season
Karen Joy Fowler
Henry Holt and Company
Historical Fiction, Fiction
We gave it a B+

In Sarah Canary, A mysterious and grotesque white woman wanders into a camp of Chinese railway workers in the winter of 1873. When Chin Ah Kin is chosen to lead her back to civilization, he is caught up in an adventure that will take him from the dark heart of the Washington Territory to the teeming streets of San Francisco. A reluctant, superstitious Chin is joined by a host of eccentrics and misfits who imbue the woman they come to call Sarah Canary with their own dreams and fears. Next to the journey of these delightfully quirky characters through an enchantingly bizarre post-Civil War America, the identity and fate of Sarah Canary seem inconsequential, a mere construct to keep Fowler’s rambunctious novel in motion. Readers who don’t mind questions without answers and mysteries without solutions will enjoy the riches of Sarah Canary. B+

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