Pandora, by Holly Hollander


  • First published by Tor, 1990


A murder mystery in which a mysterious "Pandora's box" explodes at an auction.


  • General comments on place in Wolfe's corpus
  • Sources of quotes
  • Meanings of names
  • References to other works
  • Etc.

Place names

The following is a list of fictionalized place names in Pandora and their corresponding real locations.

  • Barton - Barrington, IL. This is where Wolfe is from, of course. Holly's description of Barton fits Barrington pretty well, except for the part where she says it's 65 miles from the Loop. The real distance is about half that.
  • Barton Hills - Barrington Hills, IL. It's where Holly lives. Just to the west of Barrington, this village is rich and equestrian.
  • South Barton - South Barrington, IL. This is where Blue lives with his housemates. Holly's description of the drive from Barton Hills to South Barton is so accurate you can trace their route on a map of the Barrington area, at least until they get past the nature preserve. Today that area is all opulent subdivisions and you won't be finding any houses with a double strip of dust for a driveway. You probably wouldn't find any if you went back to the 1980s either.
  • Dawn - Aurora, IL. Holly takes the Greyhound here on her way to Garden Meadow, which appears to be entirely fictional. Aurora is slightly farther away from Chicago than Barrington is, which matches Holly's ambiguous description of Dawn as being "not really much farther from Chicago than Barton." But again, the distance is exaggerated; Holly says Garden Meadow is about 50 miles away from Barton. If Garden Meadow is 2 miles north of Dawn, that means it's 52 miles from Dawn to Barton as the crow flies. Either the story is set in some alternate universe where everything is stretched out, or Holly has a bad sense of distance. Or maybe she meant to say kilometers. Another discrepancy is her description of Dawn as "a little country place"; Aurora is the second most populous city in Illinois. It no longer has a Greyhound station, by the way.
  • Palestine - Palatine, IL. Holly was taken to an unnamed hospital in this town for the sole purpose of giving Wolfe an opportunity to make a pun. Palatine is just southeast of Barrington, and as Holly says, it's closer to Chicago.
  • CW&N (Chicago, Wisconsin and Northern) - C&NW (Chicago and North Western). The railway Holly took into Chicago. Today, the line you'd have to take to go from Barrington to Chicago is the UP-NW Metra line. In the 80s, when Holly wrote her book, Metra did not yet exist, and the three Metra lines currently run by Union Pacific were part of C&NW. Holly parenthetically states that the fare was "a dollar eightyfive back then, if you're curious." Nowadays the ride from Barrington to Chicago would cost seven fifty, if you're curious.
  • Pool County - Lake County. Barrington straddles the border of Cook County and Lake County. Barrington High is on the north side of Main Street, placing it securely in Lake County. So that explains the involvement of the Pool County Sherrif's Department.
  • Half Street - Hough Street (pronounced "huff"). Main Street is still Main Street, so it doesn't get its own bullet point.
  • Cow House - The Barn of Barrington. Like Holly says, it was a restaurant. Also a wedding venue. It closed permanently in mid-2009. As of 2017, the 150-year-old structure is still there, but the property appears to be for sale (there is a sign).


Nick Lee has written an interpretative essay, available here as a Google docs download:

Unresolved Questions