Rain Village

Young Tessa is a diminutive girl, far too small for farm work and the object of ridicule by both her own family and the other children in their isolated Midwestern community. Her father seems to believe in nothing beyond his crops, certainly not education for his misfit daughter. When a mysterious, entrancing librarian comes to town, full of fabulous stories, earthy wisdom and potions for the lovelorn, she takes Tessa under her wing, teaching her to read and to believe in herself—and a whole new magical world of possibilities opens up. But even as she blooms, Tessa’s father begins sexually abusing her. And her mentor carries a dark secret of her own that finally causes her to drown herself. Tessa runs off, following Mary’s footsteps, to join the circus as a trapeze artist, where she marries a loving man and finds a fulfilling life for herself amidst her new circus family. But she remains haunted by her past. And when a stranger from one of Mary’s fabulist tales shows up, Tessa risks everything to follow him to Rain Village, where she might finally discover her mentor’s tragic secret.

A brilliantly evocative debut set in the early part of the 20th century, steeped in emotional turbulence and down-to-earth wisdom, where a young woman must reconcile the inner traumas from her past and learn to live in the present in order to avoid becoming prisoner to her future. Rain Village casts a fabulous spell, pulling us into a world of mystery and possibility where love, friendship and loyalty might either destroy or set one free.

Praise for Rain Village

“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


“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.”


“This reviewer kept turning the page, wanting to see what secrets Tessa would unravel.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer


“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


“I just finished Rain Village last night. Tessa’s struggles and then redemption kept me reading until the wee hours of the night—2:34 am, to be exact. What an enthralling and magical book! The many themes and emotions of Rain Village make the book a slam dunk as a reading group favorite. The idea of a mentor and love of one person to change one life is a great discussion point that opens this book to personal experiences for the reading groups. If you get a chance, please say Bravo to Carolyn.”
—Barbara Mead, Reading Group Choices


“Imagine a world where every fantastic story your best friend told you turns out to be true. Imagine knowing you’re a freak, but discovering later that you’re a star. Imagine a painful childhood, a mentor who shows you how to dream, and equips you to escape. Imagine running away to join the circus, and finding there the family you’ve longed for. Imagine these things, and you’ve imagined the world of Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon. A fairy tale in the best sense of that word, Rain Village is as magical as Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but grounded in this world. Mary gives Tessa a life, but cannot save her own in this lyrical story about knowing yourself and finding your place in the world.”
—Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus is You Bookstore (IA)
Julie Trelstad