Monday, November 14, 2011
Drowned Maiden's Hair (fiction)
Unwilling to wait until Heaven to see loved ones again.
Willing to pay anything to hear their voices now...
On this mysterious Monday, welcome to the early 1900s during the height of Spiritualism, when bereaved people became convinced that the chasm between this world and the next could be crossed during seances, that someone could connect them with a loved one for just a little time more together. For every truly gifted medium, there were countless charlatans and tricksters who took advantage of immense grief for large profits.
Seances and bringing forth voices from Beyond are just "the family business" for the genteel spinster Hawthorne sisters, now fallen on hard economic times. Who would guess that a child was suddenly living in their attic bedroom, an orphan child with a heavenly singing voice, an unwanted orphan child who can fit in hidden cupboards and manipulate the ghostly vapors and set chandeliers to swinging?
Wondering how long this arrangement can last? How long the illusions will hold? If there are any true connections to the Other Side? Come back to 1909 with Maud and find out for yourself.
Book info: A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama / Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick, 2006 (paperback, 2008). [author interview] [publisher site] [book trailer]
Recommendation: Locked in the orphanage outhouse, Maud never imagined that she would be rescued by spinster sisters to become a séance angel…
Suddenly Maud has lovely new dresses and books with all the pages and a bedroom of her own! The Misses Hawthorne have all the “modern conveniences” in their large, remote house – this is 1909, after all. They teach Maud new hymns, buy her a blond wig to cover her flyaway brown hair, have her practice tricks for making chandeliers sway and hiding in secret compartments.
Yes, the Misses Hawthorne are no longer wealthy, so they hold séances to make a living. They help grieving people “hear” their lost loved ones from The Beyond, now assisted by Maud acting as any child who died young. If truth from the doctors and religion from the preachers won’t satisfy a wealthy patron that someone dear has indeed died and gone to heaven, then the Misses Hawthorne are more than willing to act as go-betweens with the Spirit World on their behalf…for a fee.
Moving to a seaside villa to be closer to a grief-stricken mother whose daughter drowned is another new experience for Maud – ice cream! The sea breeze! Sneaking out in the night to play in the sand! For no one outside the house must ever see her, must ever know that a child lives with the Hawthornes…
So, will Maud always have to live hidden in the attic bedroom? What does Muffet, their deaf and mute servant, think about all this trickery? Why does pretending to be dead Caroline feel different from acting as the other child spirits? Is Caroline really speaking to Maud in her dreams?
Go behind the scenes with Maud as she is swept along with the Misses Hawthorne during the height of the Spiritualist movement – and listen for Caroline’s voice…
(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.