Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Palace of Strange Girls

by Sallie Day


In this book by Sallie Day, The Palace of Strange Girls is a variety freak show where "adults only" can see such sights as the amazing tiger woman and the ape woman. This show is also an exact opposite to the family who are the heart and soul of this wonderfully different book, itself called The Palace of Strange Girls.

On the outside, the Singleton family is very normal. The dad, Jack, has a good job and the mother, Ruth, is an excellent housewife and mother. The girls, Helen and Elizabeth, are beautiful and obedient. Yet, in the heart of each is the chaos and pain that is the central theme of the story.

It is actually Ruth’s pain that reaches out and affects each of her family members. She lived her early life poor and she so desperately wants everything perfect. She wants Jack to continue to advance in his job so they all can have the wonderful life she believes money can afford. To her, happiness is a large house and the appearance of luxury. Happiness is also well behaved children and she is needlessly strict with her daughters. What she doesn’t realize is, she is hurting her family with her needs. Each of them suffers from their own heartache and readers catch up with this potential powder keg as they go to spend a holiday week at the sea.

It is here that various other characters invade their tightly controlled life and things began to spin into madness. Several of the characters take turns telling the story, so readers not only get to hear first hand the emotional opinions of Ruth and the conflicted thoughts of Jack, we hear from other family members and minor characters as well. Together the narratives work to reveal various bits and pieces of the Singleton family and to explain why they have arrived at the sea ready for a family revolution.

The Book

Grand Central / Hachette
September 9th, 2009
Historical Fiction [Blackpool, England, 1959]
More at

The Reviewer

Emily Decobert
Reviewed 2010
NOTE: Reviewer Emily Decobert is the author of Continuing on Alone.
© 2010