Book - 2002
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"Gothic tale, psychological study, puzzle narrative...This is gripping, astute fiction that feeds the mind and senses."-- The Seattle Times

An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women's ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London's grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank's murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by on apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Selina was imprisoned after a séance she was conducting went horribly awry, leaving an elderly matron dead and a young woman deeply disturbed. Although initially skeptical of Selina's gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of ghosts and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last driven to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina's freedom, and her own.

As in her noteworthy deput, Tipping the Velvet , Sarah Waters brilliantly evokes the sights and smells of a moody and beguiling nineteenth-century London, and proves herself yet again a storyteller, in the words of the New York Times Book Review , of "startling power."

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2002, c1999
Edition: 1st Riverhead trade paperback ed. --
ISBN: 9781573228732
Branch Call Number: FIC Water 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 351 p


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Nov 17, 2013

This started off rather slow for me and I was almost ready to abandon it when Margaret, the narrator, meets Selina Dawes. Suddenly my reading appetite returned and was satisfied all the way to the end, which I didn't see coming.The story is told mostly through Margaret's journal entries which are occasionally interrupted by Selina's shorter accounts of her life as a spiritualist and the events that put her in London's Millbank Prison, which really existed. (The Tate Gallery now occupies part of its former grounds.). I found myself almost willing to suspend reason and believe that the dead can communicate with the living, or at least understand how anyone who has ever lost a loved one could believe in its possibility.

Nov 01, 2010

I am not usually a huge historical fiction reader, but this book is pretty good. It is shorter than some of Waters' other books. The plot is engaging and has some twists, as is her style. Wish they would turn this one into a movie too.

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