The Fainting Room

Trade Paper
  • 359 pages
  • 5.5 x 8 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1-935439-76-9
  • 2013-05-07


“A deliciously creepy and intense story.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Part detective story, part mystery, Strong’s second novel (after Burning the Sea) delivers complex, entertaining characters and will attract readers who enjoy genre-blending, cutting-edge fiction.”—Library Journal

“…a masterful exploration of longing and its consequences.”—Publishers Weekly

“What happens when you throw a lonely, blue-haired sixteen-year-old nihilist with a pet iguana, a tattooed former circus-performer cum manicurist, and a wealthy architect into one household for a summer? In Sarah Pemberton Strong’s deft hands, you get one hell of a good read.”—Lambda Literary Review

“Laced with sex and menace, carried along by Strong’s hypnotic prose, The Fainting Room takes the genre of suburban drama and turns it inside out. Tom Perotta would be proud. So might David Lynch.”—Brian Francis Slattery, author, Lost Everything

“Part noir, part romance, and part three-ring circus, The Fainting Room is filled with secrets: secret lives, secret desires, even secret skin. Like a high wire act, Strong keeps us on the edge of our seats, turning pages as quickly as we can and rooting for her three damaged, complicated, wonderful characters to succeed.”—Diana Wagman, author, The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets

Ray Shepard is a wealthy architect who has mystified his friends by marrying Evelyn, a woman who works at a nail salon. Evelyn, in turn, hides a secret past about her former life in the circus, her ex-husband’s mysterious death, and the colorful tattoos she carefully conceals under her clothes. When Evelyn starts to cave under the pressure of living in Ray’s rarified world, she suggests they take in Ingrid, a sixteen-year-old girl with blue hair, a pet iguana, and no place to stay for the summer. As Evelyn and Ray both make her their confidante, drawing her into the heart of what threatens their marriage, Ingrid increasingly adopts the noir alter ego of “Detective Slade”—fedora and all—in order to solve the mysteries that engulf all three characters.

Sarah Pemberton Strong is the author of the novel, Burning the Sea, and a collection of poems, Tour of the Breath Gallery, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Award. She is the poetry editor for New Haven Review, and her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Southwest Review, The Southern Review, Cream City Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, RATTLE, and The Sun. She lives in Connecticut with her spouse and daughter.