Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deborah Noyes Debunks Tomfoolery in "Captivity"

I hate the Fox Sisters for giving knuckle-cracking and knee-popping such a bad rep.  But I love what author Deborah Noyes has done to turn the real-life story of Maggie, Leah and Kate Fox into an entrancing novel about love, longing, and deception.  The Barnes and Noble Review has just published my review of Noyes' novel Captivity:
When it came to tomfoolery, shams and mass deception, the Fox sisters were arguably the greatest of their day.  Starting in 1848 in upstate New York, Leah, Maggie and Kate persuaded both the gullible and the skeptical that they could communicate with the spirits of those who had “gone over Jordan.”  Their séances and public channelings of the dead eventually gave rise to the Spiritualism movement, which continued to snowball even after Maggie and Kate later admitted it had all been a hoax.  The “rappings,” they said, had been nothing more than the two of them cracking their knuckles and toes under the table.

In the novel Captivity, Deborah Noyes takes the tale of the teenage Fox sisters and interweaves it with that of the fictional Clara Gill, a middle-aged spinster who retreated from society after a love affair ended tragically. While the young girls are giddy when fame starts expanding their horizons (“We were born for this, [Maggie] thinks”), Clara has become “a ghost in her own home, neither awake nor asleep, aware of her own transparency.”

Noyes’ previous novel, Angel and Apostle, was a retelling of The Scarlet Letter from the perspective of Hester Prynne’s illegitimate daughter Pearl. In that book, Noyes proved it’s possible to revisit classic literature and give it a sharp, post-modern twist without resorting to zombies or werewolves. The remix of Hawthorne’s morality tale spiked the familiar with the fresh.

Read the full review here.

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