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The Sweet By and By by Jeanne Mackin (eBook)

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“What a treat this novel is, a wonderful collision of eras that’s sensuous and ethereal at the same time, but also full of compelling mysteries.” —Diane Ackerman

"So you don't believe in ghosts?"Jude asked one evening.

"And you do?" I whispered back.

"Sometimes I wish I did. I would come back to you…"

When Helen West is contracted to write a definitive essay on Maggie Fox, the founder of American Spiritualism, she begins to wonder if departed spirits do indeed return to comfort their loved ones. After all, Maggie Fox made a living by convincing people that the dead spoke through her. By incorporating tricks such as rigging apples on strings to make knocking noises, her séances attracted the likes of Horace Greeley and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.

Throughout the course of her research, Helen, recovering from the death of her lover, develops a strange, unexpected kinship with Maggie. When she hears knocking in her old farmhouse in upstate New York, she can't help but wonder if it is her old lover attempting to communicate with her.

Is death the end? To what lengths will people go to comfort themselves after the death of a loved one? Helen confronts these questions and others in a captivating, haunting novel that effortlessly weaves together two stories that take place more than one hundred years apart. 

"I read [this novel] in two sittings, eager to learn how the lives and love stories turned out, and simply fascinated by the historical accuracy ... Before I realized it, I was swept up in Maggie and Helen's intersecting worlds: those they make, those they inherit, those they intuit, those they're hauled into by others. One of the book's many charms is how wisely it reveals the values and passions of two women from very different eras who, nonetheless, have everything in common." —DIANE ACKERMAN, author of A Natural History of the Senses

"A sensitive, affectionate, and appealing portrait of [Maggie Fox,] the uneducated girl who at fourteen escaped rural poverty and a drunken, abusive father to become America's first and most famous Spiritualist medium." —ALISON LURIE, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of Foreign Affairs

"[Mackin's] narrator, while asserting that she is no 'hagiographer of spurious mystics,' is an engaging woman, solid in her station, widely conversant with the deeper reaches of the paranormal, and magically involved with her quest. Here she leads the mind in a chase as she finds herself tempted to believe in the return of departed spirits, in a prose that is as amiable to read as the palm of a hand. A haunting book in every way. Masterly and fervent." —PAUL WEST, author of The Secret Lives of Words

"Jeanne Mackin has written a multilayered, multigenerational story of a spirited encounter with the spirit world. One hundred and fifty years are but the brief blink of an eye under this author's imaginative scrutiny, and she enlivens in The Sweet By and By both the quick and the dead." —NICHOLAS DELBANCO, author of What Remains 

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5x8 in
Suspense Thriller

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