Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review-High Spirits by Dianne K. Salerni

High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance
by Dianne K. Salerni
iUniverse, $20.95
352p., 978-0-595-42350-7

Prepare to be entertained by the ethereal escapades of Maggie and Kate Fox who at an early age had the impish inklings of what would become a lucrative money making movement called Spiritualism. It began as a mischievous game. One day, when the girl’s older niece Lizzie comes to visit, they set a plan in motion. They are not fond of Lizzie and as she sleeps in the middle of the bed Kate and Maggie create the sounds that come to make them famous. The sound’s origin are a mystery to Lizzie and frightened she alerts the rest of the family.

The girl’s are the cause of the rapping sounds yet no one can figure this out, except their older sister Leah. As she takes control of the girls and threatens exposure she embarks on a plan to promote the girls for profit. The girls communicate with the dead, and people pay to come see them to receive messages from loved ones.

The story takes place between 1848 and 1856 during the time when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed and President Taylor died in office. Women of proper society did not lecture, they stayed at home, so the Fox sisters became associated, albeit willingly with the Abolitionists and the Feminists Movements.

Maggie and Kate are two very different siblings, although both are quite witty and charming. Kate truly believes she has the gift of sight and has a responsibility to bring it to the public. Her mission is to offer solace to those left behind. Maggie, on the other hand, as a child did not see right from wrong, but as she matures she frets, and comes to question her participation.

The story is told in the alternating voices between Kate and Maggie, a style that is dpleasing and effective by giving better character perspectives. Leah has control over both of the girls, for she knows the secret. One day Maggie meets a man, Elisha Kent Kane, an Arctic explorer with wanderlust and she falls deeply in love, who also wants to control Maggie. Kane presents a problem that only Maggie can solve.

This is a gripping story of greed, control and gullibility that I found to be totally entertaining and a fun read. I was amazed to learn about the Fox sisters and their notoriety. My one complaint is that the book cover could have been more representative of the content. Salerni offers a further reference list in her book.

Here are a couple from the book:
The Fox Sisters: HYPERLINK ""
The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox, by Nancy Rubin Stuart

I couldn’t put this one down, the pace is fast and to coin a phrase, has “never a dull moment.” High Spirit has high drama, high suspense, high romance and high praise!!Salerni knows how to engage an audience so that they won’t need a bookmark.

☆☆☆☆✰ 4.5 Stars


Literary Feline said...

I am not familiar with this story at all. It sounds fascinating! Thank you for the great review.

wisteria said...

It is fascinating and the research that was done really was exceptional. Thanks.

The Bookworm said...

this sounds great, I have never hread of this before.
great review.

wisteria said...

Thanks Naida..I really liked it. Seeing the books you read, I think you would too!