About the Book: Eusapia Palladino’s wretched childhood in a small Italian village, her evolution into one of Europe’s most successful mediums and her travels to France, England and America at the turn of the 20th century come alive in this gripping tale that spans literary, historical, feminist, occult and paranormal categories. Since Eusapia’s special powers spring from her relationship with her deceased mother, her story will fittingly be released on Mother’s Day.
In a period when the emergence of modern science calls into question long-held assumptions, and spiritualism fills a void caused by the resulting decline in traditional religious beliefs, Eusapia taps successfully into the new hopes and fears of her time.
Communicating with the dead is deeply personal for Eusapia. She survives the misery of her childhood only by holding on to her dead mother who died giving birth to her. For a poor but clever and independent girl without schooling, becoming a medium is one of her only means to get by in life and maybe even do well. With the help of influential spiritualists, Eusapia develops her powers. Her reputation soars and brings her to cities all over the world. She is sought out by famous people and investigated by renowned scientists and Nobel Prize winners like Charles Richet and Marie and Pierre Curie.
R.K. Marfurt’s novel explores Eusapia’s conflicted, not always savory, yet courageous journey through life and mediumship, as well as the multifaceted relationships of scientists and upper-class people with spiritualism and the dark séance rooms where peculiar and unexpected things happen.
Calling the Dead, the story of medium Eusapia Palladino, is R.K. Marfurt’s first novel. She has always been fascinated by psychics and fortune tellers, their motivations, self-perceptions and views of reality. That her main character is intricately connected to the academic milieu is no accident either, as R.K. Marfurt has a longstanding interest in academic research, her husband is an academic, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada where she worked as an administrator dealt with academics and their research.
R.K. Marfurt lives with her husband in Ottawa, Canada. She has four children and six grandchildren.
My Review: This is a very well written book that tells the story of Eusapia Palladino, a famous medium that lived mostly in the 19th century in Naples, Italy. After an excruciating childhood, in order to have a way of living she learnt to develop her medium capabilities, through the established contact with her deceased mother, that died giving birth to her and guidance from other mediums and her relationship with a magician. The author was able to recreate all the atmosphere to count her story in a very vivid way, so we end up getting very much involved in the description of events, cheering for the success of our heroine. The book describes her struggles with relationships, her travels to England, France and America to be investigated by famous scientists like the Curie couple. Eusapia's successes and failures make us reflect on how much we want others to believe in our own stories, making us tell lies or to tell more or less than the reality, sometimes to comfort others, sometimes to comfort ourselves. Besides all séances, struggles and investigations, we have a love story that span for decades and although it develops in different directions, the love, care and dedication lasts till the end.
This is a very entertaining reading and I recommend it for the permanent library of any reader who appreciates an excellent novel and wants to get hooked from the beginning. It took me around 16 hours to read the whole book. I received a free copy from the author for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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