High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance

Overview

In mid-nineteenth century America, spirits knock and tables tip for Maggie and Kate Fox, two teenage sisters who convince people they can talk to the dead with their mysterious rapping noises. Before long, neighbors are begging Maggie and Katie for the chance to receive messages from dead relatives and older sister Leah realizes that their "prank" has real money-making potential.

Soon, the sisters hit the road to bamboozle newspaper editors, politicians, and the public at large ...

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Overview

In mid-nineteenth century America, spirits knock and tables tip for Maggie and Kate Fox, two teenage sisters who convince people they can talk to the dead with their mysterious rapping noises. Before long, neighbors are begging Maggie and Katie for the chance to receive messages from dead relatives and older sister Leah realizes that their "prank" has real money-making potential.

Soon, the sisters hit the road to bamboozle newspaper editors, politicians, and the public at large and start a national craze for spirits and ghosts. Their fame grows--but could their powers actually be real? See the good and the bad that can happen when three sisters land in the limelight and come to their own conclusions about what’s true, what’s right and what’s important.

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What People Are Saying

Mary Lou Liprie
"A magical tale of adventure with unexpected twists and turns that is sure to capture the adolescent reader. High Spirits gives voice to enhance one's understanding of a point in time in a lively and transparent way."--(Mary Lou Liprie, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Adolescent Development, College of Human Services, Education and Public Policy, University of Delaware)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595423507
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

1
Maggie

My earliest memories always include Kate. With three years between us, there must have been a time when she was a toddling child still in infant's clothes and I was an independent youngster, but I do not remember this. There must have been a period, especially when we lived in Ontario, during which I played with my sister Elizabeth's children and left little Kate behind, but I do not recall it. As long as I can remember, we were together, friends and sisters, inseparable companions. Later, we would come to be known as the Fox Sisters, named by the newspapers as a single entity. We grew up together and yet alone, separated from our siblings by over fourteen years and allowed to run wild and free by parents astonished to have produced a second batch of offspring.
We were a mischievous pair, playing tricks on each other, on the neighbor children, and on our parents. Household objects such as my father's spectacles and my mother's hairbrush were always going astray. After a suitable period, Kate would discover the missing objects and be praised for her cleverness. Feeling a bit jealous, I once asked Kate peevishly if the next time she stole some object she couldn't let me be the one to find it. She stared at me silently for a moment, her violet eyes steady upon me, and then replied, "Just because I find them doesn't mean I stole them."
A fine thing to say to her companion in devilment! I tied the string to the apple with my own hands when her six-year-old fingers were too clumsy to secure the knots. We used to drop the apple out of bed and let it thump on the floor, then draw it quickly back into bed when my mother tried to find the source of the noise.This was a great game, and after several repetitions my mother would mutter superstitiously about spirits and devils. Kate always wanted to push the boundaries of common sense, dropping the apple when our mother was close enough to see.
"We shall be caught," I whispered nervously.
"No, we shan't," she murmured back.
And we never were. My mother never could see anything but good in us. I believe she must have used up the sharpest of her mothering instincts on my siblings, and by the time we came to her, she was weary.
At the age of sixteen, my mother had married a young blacksmith who worked on the banks of the newly constructed Erie Canal, and by seventeen she was mother to a baby daughter, my sister Leah. Two more daughters followed, Maria and Elizabeth, and then my brother David, all in the span of seven years. While David was still a small child, my mother left my father because he was prone to drinking and gambling the family's money away. She took the children and moved in with her sister, thirty miles away in Rochester, New York.
I am not supposed to know very much about these events, which took place long before I was born. But I have had ample opportunity to hear my older sisters talk about their life without a father and the hardships they endured in those times. I know it was partly to escape poverty that Leah ran away to marry Bowman Fish when she was only fourteen years old . . . not that it did her any good.
After a period of time, my father presented himself at the door in Rochester, hat in hand, a changed man. He had given up drink and was now a devout Methodist, serious in his religious duties and ready to resume his role as husband and father to the Fox family. My mother must have been impressed by the change, because she allowed him to move the entire family, except Leah, to a farm in Canada.
By the time I was born, David was the only child still living at home. Elizabeth had married a Canadian man, and Maria had moved back to live with our Aunt Catherine in Rochester, where she was engaged to a young man named Stephen Smith. My parents already had grandchildren when I came along, and they seemed even more surprised by Kate, who arrived almost three years later. Sometimes my father would squint at us through his spectacles as if he were a little confused about who we were and how we came to be living in his house.
We spent our earliest childhood years on the farm in Ontario, and when that venture failed, my father moved us back to Rochester. We spent some years there, with my father trying to make a living as a blacksmith. David eventually married and moved to Wayne County, near the town of Hydesville. He spoke to my father about a tract of land near his peppermint farm, and my father decided to build a house there. The year was 1848.

I was not happy about leaving the cheerful and bustling city of Rochester for the dreary, vacant countryside of Wayne County. I had just turned fourteen, and I thought that being banished to "frontiersland" would be the end of my life.
To make matters worse, the rooms that my family rented in Rochester had become unavailable due to the owner, Mr. Isaac Post, selling the house. It became necessary to move out of our lodgings before the new home was built, so my father rented a small house within the town limits of Hydesville.
Hydesville wasn't much of a town, as far as I was concerned, and this wasn't much of a house. Its best feature was a south-facing parlor with several windows to brighten the room with the afternoon sun. The kitchen, however, was dark and dreary. The house's single bedroom received sunlight at dawn, but no other time. There was a buttery off the kitchen, and a cobwebbed attic over the back half of the house. The absolutely most horrible part of the house was the cellar.
Kate and I explored it, while Father and David moved furniture above us. Foul water squelched around our shoes, bubbling up from the damp earth floor. The wood beams supporting earthen walls leaned inwards at an alarming angle, giving us the unsettling impression of imminent collapse.
"It smells like an open grave," I stated in disgust.
"To be sure," answered Kate, "and there lies the corpse." She pointed at the darkest corner of the cellar where I could dimly make out a mound of loose earth piled carelessly against a crooked wall.
"What are you girls doing down there?"
The voice made us jump and clutch each other, even though it was clearly recognizable as my father's mild tone. We turned and saw him leaning in through the doorway, peering at us in the dim light.
I opened my mouth, ready to burst out with fresh complaints about moving into a house built over a pauper's cemetery. But Kate took my hand firmly and spoke before me. "We were just curious, father. It is terribly damp down here! We shall come up before we catch a chill." She led me toward the stairs, and I followed silently, without voicing my complaints about the cellar or ever once mentioning our notion of it being a grave.
Hydesville was less a town than a cluster of houses and farms that had grown up around a tavern, which later closed down and left the townfolk around it wondering why they had come. My mother, I know, was relieved to see the boarded doors on the old Hyde's Tavern. Better a husband who fell to his knees twice a day in prayer than one who drank and gambled away the rent money.
There was a school just up the street, which Kate and I both attended. My father promised me, however, that I could be finished with Arithmetic and the dreaded Spelling just as soon as the new house was completed. In the meantime, there was not enough housework to keep both my mother and me busy, so off to the tolls of the school bell I went.
We had lived in the Hydesville house less than two weeks when a letter from my sister Leah arrived, telling us to expect her daughter to arrive by canal boat within a few days. Lizzie was coming "to lend us a hand." Only Leah could imagine that feeding and housing another person under our present circumstances would be a help. Especially Lizzie, a great big horse of a girl with the brains of a cow and the liveliness of a fencepost.
Leah obviously needed to be rid of Lizzie for her own purposes. Perhaps she wanted to put a boarder in the girl's room to make extra money. Leah held piano lessons and rented rooms, but seemed to be in an endless state of acquiring funds. Whenever she could prevail upon my parents to feed, clothe, and shelter her daughter, she did so.
Anticipating Lizzie's arrival did not improve my outlook on the house, Hydesville, or the dismal end of my former life. Kate and I moaned and took fits, but Lizzie was already on her way and our mother actually looked forward to her arrival. Honestly, I cannot tell why, unless it was simply that she was the eldest grandchild and the daughter of her precious Leah. Lizzie was dull, slow, and unattractive. She did not resemble my sister, who was pretty and bold and the center of any gathering of people. I never met Mr. Bowman Fish, who ran off to marry a rich widow when Lizzie was only a baby, but I imagine that he must have resembled his own name and passed those features on to his daughter.
"Lizzie Fish is a stinky old cod," Kate chanted out of the hearing of our parents.
"Face like a path where the oxen trod," I rejoined, turning the jump rope, which we had tied to a tree.
"Screwed up little eyes and pale, thin hair . . . "
"For a penny and a half I would push her down the stair."
"How many steps did Lizzie fall down?"
"One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five . . . six . . . "
My seventeen-year-old niece Lizzie was the least important person in this entire story-and also the most important. She was the reason for everything that was to come: the rapping, the lecture halls, the spirit circles, and the messages from the dead.
Kate and I did not like Lizzie. We did not look forward to her arrival, and we resented sharing our bed with her.
Everything that happened-everything-was originally just a plan to scare Lizzie and make her go home.
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Andie Z. for TeensReadToo.com

    When mischievous sisters Maggie and Kate Fox hear that their dreaded niece, Lizzie, is coming for a visit, they immediately start thinking of ways to get rid of her. Their prank takes the form of rapping noises that spell out messages from the dead, but instead of making Lizzie flee in fear, their plan backfires, and soon they have not only Lizzie and their family convinced, but the whole town. <BR/><BR/>All of a sudden, neighbors want to hold séances to give messages to their deceased loved ones, an innocent man is accused of murder, and a reporter comes to investigate, turning their harmless little prank into something much bigger. <BR/><BR/>The girls are thrilled with all the attention, but when their older sister, Leah, makes a visit and witnesses a spirit rapping for herself, she immediately sees through their shenanigans and recognizes that it is one of their tricks. Rather than turning them in, however, she gives them a choice: come with her and allow her to take charge of the rappings and make the decisions, or be revealed as frauds. Under Leah's control, the spirit circles turn into a business venture, as she starts charging admission and adds a vast arsenal of spooky tricks to the evening's entertainment. <BR/><BR/>The sisters travel around holding séances, and their fame grows, giving rise to spiritualism and mesmerism, and causing many more "mediums" to be discovered. Not everyone is impressed, though, and more than once they find themselves confronted by disbelievers and skeptics, even having to flee for their lives on occasion. <BR/><BR/>One of these skeptics is Elisha Kent Kane, a charismatic and well-known Arctic explorer who, despite his misgivings about her occupation, takes a great liking to Maggie and begins to court her. He insists that she give up the spirit rapping and the deception, even offering to provide her with an education and place to stay in order to improve her social status. Maggie finds herself with a decision to make, as she is torn between her feelings for Elisha and what he can provide, and her old way of life and the acceptance of her family. <BR/><BR/>HIGH SPIRITS is a fascinating book, made even more interesting by the fact that the story of the Fox sisters is based in truth. I enjoyed every second of reading it, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Readers will be swept along with Maggie and Kate as they bamboozle an entire nation, and will feel for Maggie as she debates whether or not to leave the profession and then has to deal with the consequences of her decision. <BR/><BR/>Dianne K. Salerni has written a brilliant debut novel and I am eagerly awaiting her next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    Brilliantly written, with lifelike characters

    High Spirits is an excellent book, and Dianne Salerni has an incisive ability to get into the characters¿ minds. Her characters were actual people, true, but she has a way of taking them out of the past and sitting them right down next to us, making it feel as if we are seeing their story firsthand. High Spirits actually seems to be two books in one. The first half is the history of the Fox sisters and how they became famous spiritualists, believed to be able to communicate with the dead. As their fame grows, so too does their infamy, and they must deal with nonbelievers and detractors, some of whom are willing to resort to violence. This lends itself to some harrowing, suspenseful moments. The second part of the book is a romance, as Maggie Fox falls in love with a man who loves her in return, but is unable to find the courage to make his feelings public. Meanwhile, he demands that she give up her life of spirit rapping, which angers her family to no end as it is their sole means of support. Torn between betraying her family or losing the man she loves, a man who makes these demands yet is unwilling to commit, Maggie rides an emotional rollercoaster. We sit by her side at all times, through the constant ups and downs, not knowing how the ride will end. It is an enjoyable ride, nonetheless, and one well worth taking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2008

    Bewitching Tale

    High Spirits is the story of Maggie and Kate Fox, early members of the Spiritualist movement. A prank mimicing communicating with the dead is so successful that it ends up becoming a way of life. The two young sisters, barely in their teens and guided by their older sister, succeeded in convincing people that they were able to communicate with the departed by rapping noises created by the cracking sounds of their knees, ankles, and toes. The girls, especially Kate, came to see their séances as a way of providing comfort to grieving relatives by reassuring them that their loved ones were at peace in the afterlife. The story is focused on the middle sister, Maggie, who falls in love with the explorer, Elisha Kent Kane, who is aware that the Fox sisters¿ claim to communicate with the dead is a hoax. Before leaving on a rescue mission to the Arctic, Kane gets Maggie to give up her rapping by promising to marry her. For the next 29 months, she waits for the return of her lover. Dianne Salerni is truly gifted in recreating the environment that allowed Spiritualism to flourish. Her detailed portraits of the Fox sisters allow the reader to understand how these young women were able to pull the wool over the eyes of so many, including authors, editors and the wife of a president. Her understanding of the time in which the Fox sisters lived as well as in-depth knowledge of this chapter in American history enables her to write this engrossing and compelling story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2008

    More Than Just High Spirits

    Some movies bring tears to my eyes books seldom do. High Spirits starts with the haunting of Hydesville in 1848. It follows the real life adventures of two sisters, Maggie and Kate Fox. Maggie starts the story by telling us that she began the `deception¿ when she was too young to know right from wrong. Kate, the younger of the two, regrets her sister¿s use of that word. To Kate, the dead are real, and the spirits talk to her. I have well over a hundred books sitting on bookshelves in my study. Some of them I¿ve already started. Since I lost interest in most of them, the bookmarks are still waiting between early pages for me to return. Many of the books I buy end up neglected orphans in need of foster parents. Books on the best seller lists seldom satisfy me, because they are shallow or seem like a story I¿ve already read. It¿s almost as if most of them were chosen by those politically correct people we know are out there monitoring what we say and think and learn¿people very much like a `few¿ of the characters in High Spirits. However, when I find a novel worth reading, it¿s like walking into an undiscovered country. High Spirits was one of those. High Spirits is about the lives of the Fox family and two sisters that are devoted to each other. Kate and Maggie are credited with starting the spiritualist movement as a prank. When I first picked up High Spirits, I thought I was going to be reading about ghosts and romance. To my surprise and satisfaction, I soon discovered that High Spirits offers much more. High Spirits turned out to be a story told on many levels. At times I found myself chuckling. At other times I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat wondering if one of the characters I liked was about to suffer a horrible fate. High Spirits is also about a dysfunctional but loving and loyal family surviving in a cruel world. On a more personal note, they are like us. It is easy to identify with them. When danger looms from skeptics that threaten Maggie¿s life, her older sister Leah Fox rescues her in a daring and risky escape that leaves Maggie in heart-pounding terror. Just thinking about myself in the same situation under the same circumstances had me breaking out in a cold sweat, and I¿m a combat veteran that served in Vietnam. Maggie was a young girl. The romance in High Spirits arrives later in the story. Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, the most widely celebrated American adventurer of the day, eventually walks on stage and fall ¿madly¿ in love with Maggie. What turns out to be a complex relationship stands equal to Romeo and Juliet Tristan & Isolde, and Tony and Maria of West Side Story. That¿s as far as I¿ll go. My lips are now zipped shut. Hollywood, pay attention. Stories like this are rare, and Maggie and Elisha were real people. In High Spirits, the harsh lines that separate the privileged and powerful from the working class show that dysfunctional people come from all levels of society. However, those at the top have the power to do more damage. What they are capable of doing to hurt others is more like a tidal wave washing over distant shores and leaving nothing but destruction and misery in its wake. When Elisha¿s mother interferes with his love for Maggie, horrible consequences are set in motion. Although High Spirits reveals that most of us are human at heart, a few inhuman monsters populate our world and wreck havoc wherever they can for selfish, egotistical reasons. If you are looking for adventure, romance, heartbreak, a bit of history, and a story that will touch you, I recommend this novel. Reading High Spirits will be a journey of discovery that might squeeze out a tear or two like it did for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2008

    The Exquisite Fox Sisters

    Other reviewers on this page have covered most of the details of the storyline of High Spirits, so I won't mention them any further. There is little that I can add to the accolades already earned by Ms. Salerni. The subject matter of this book is not something that particularly interests me, and I had never even heard of The Fox Sisters before reading High Spirits. As someone who is somewhat known as a curmudgeonly book critic, I have to state that Dianne Salerni earned her five stars for High Spirits the old fashioned way, the way I like to see an author do it. The characters are painted in full color, the plotline unfolds smoothly, the dialog is believable, the typos are minimal, the cover design is professional, and the editing of the story is just tight enough. I envisioned the characters clearly in my mind and I cared about them, and I cared what happened on each page as I turned to the next one. Dianne K. Salerni has written an exquisite first novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    When mischievous sisters Maggie and Kate Fox hear that their dreaded niece, Lizzie, is coming for a visit, they immediately start thinking of ways to get rid of her. Their prank takes the form of rapping noises that spell out messages from the dead, but instead of making Lizzie flee in fear, their plan backfires, and soon they have not only Lizzie and their family convinced, but the whole town. All of a sudden, neighbors want to hold séances to give messages to their deceased loved ones, an innocent man is accused of murder, and a reporter comes to investigate, turning their harmless little prank into something much bigger. The girls are thrilled with all the attention, but when their older sister, Leah, makes a visit and witnesses a spirit rapping for herself, she immediately sees through their shenanigans and recognizes that it is one of their tricks. Rather than turning them in, however, she gives them a choice: come with her and allow her to take charge of the rappings and make the decisions, or be revealed as frauds. Under Leah¿s control, the spirit circles turn into a business venture, as she starts charging admission and adds a vast arsenal of spooky tricks to the evening¿s entertainment. The sisters travel around holding séances, and their fame grows, giving rise to spiritualism and mesmerism, and causing many more ¿mediums¿ to be discovered. Not everyone is impressed, though, and more than once they find themselves confronted by disbelievers and skeptics, even having to flee for their lives on occasion. One of these skeptics is Elisha Kent Kane, a charismatic and well-known Arctic explorer who, despite his misgivings about her occupation, takes a great liking to Maggie and begins to court her. He insists that she give up the spirit rapping and the deception, even offering to provide her with an education and place to stay in order to improve her social status. Maggie finds herself with a decision to make, as she is torn between her feelings for Elisha and what he can provide, and her old way of life and the acceptance of her family. HIGH SPIRITS is a fascinating book, made even more interesting by the fact that the story of the Fox sisters is based in truth. I enjoyed every second of reading it, and I can¿t recommend it highly enough. Readers will be swept along with Maggie and Kate as they bamboozle an entire nation, and will feel for Maggie as she debates whether or not to leave the profession and then has to deal with the consequences of her decision. Dianne K. Salerni has written a brilliant debut novel and I am eagerly awaiting her next. **Reviewed by: Andie Z.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    A tale of girls too clever by half!

    Ms. Salerni has written a captivating novel about two sisters who play a prank on a friend and then find that they can fool most people with the same scam because most people believe what they want to believe. Using this principle, the sisters and their relatives develop a detailed scheme in which people pay to hear from their dear departed relatives. The hoax threatens to fall apart and land them all in serious trouble many times, but it is most threatened when one of the sisters falls in love with a dashing, erudite adventurer, who is immediately skeptical of the sisters so-called gift. The book takes a few twists it probably did not need, but overall it is very well written, carefully crafted and engaging. The author demonstrates a broad knowledge of antebellum 19th century America, its language and its customs, which makes it educational as well as entertaining. Small details are provided which give depth and texture to the work. Recommended especially for women and teenagers. Barry Yelton Author of Scarecrow in Gray, a Civil War Novel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    High Spirits is a romantic tragedy based upon the lives of the Fox sisters, Kate and Maggie, who started the spiritualist movement in the mid-19th century. Salerni writes with style and grace, as someone who knows this historical period well. The characters in the book are very true to life and the sensibilities of the Antebellum period. Unlike many novels of this period, the impending war between the states does not overshadow everything. This novel is a very personal portrait of Maggie Fox, who is drawn into a prank with her sister, but does not know how to stop the madness and notoriety that it brings to their lives. Maggie¿s relationship with her two sisters, Kate ¿ the true believer in Spiritualism, and Leah ¿ the domineering older sister obsessed with money and social position, is complex. Maggie struggles to free herself from both their influences on her, ultimately in vain. Maggie¿s relationship with the famous explorer, Dr. Elisha Kane is both heartwarming and tragic. The difference in their social positions makes their lives extremely difficult and sets both families against the match. Maggie¿s struggles to become the lady of society befitting of the wife of a famous explorer and Kane¿s obsession with scientific fame and exploration leave little doubt of their fate. For all that, the passionate romance of the doomed couple is heartwarming and genuine and the reader will find themselves swept away by Dianne Salerni¿s High Spirits.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2007

    No rapping this book

    The neat thing about this book is that it's based on the true story of the Fox sisters, who more or less started the entire Spiritualist craze in the 1850s. But more than just showing this thin slice of the times, the book is a fully realized description of pre-Civil War life on the east coast of the US. This isn't a period heavily covered in fiction. The focus on mid-nineteenth century America is mostly toward the Civil War and the antebellum South. In the first few chapters, I was worried. They seemed kind of repetitive, going through all of the Fox sisters various rapping techniques, but then Ms. Salerni gets rolling and turns the book into a can't-put-it-down page turner. High praise for High Spirits? Yes, but I'm praising it in the context of what it is: a personal story of a young woman caught up in a lie that lasts for years, a lie she can't get out of even if it means losing the love of her life. We want to yell at Maggie to grab her guy and head off to the arctic with him, but that 'just was not done.' We learn of the social mores that require Maggie to defer virtually every decision about her life to her overbearing older sister, Leah. Her younger sister, Kate, isn't any help since she not only enjoys the deceptions the girls put over on a naive public, but begins to believe that the rapping she performs by cracking the joints of her toes is actually a message from the spirits. Ms. Salerni is a teacher in 'real life' so I'm not surprised the book ends with a page or two of discussion questions. Interestingly, this list made me think a little harder about the book. Darn, I hate when a book does that! Seriously, the book is educational in a highly entertaining way. Ms. Salerni asks: 'How did the common view of females in the nineteenth century work in the favor of the Fox sisters?' and 'Is it possible that good can be accomplished through deception?' and 'How was it that people could be so easily fooled by what, in hindsight, seems an obvious fraud?' Yes, indeed, the subject matter of the book is a perfect vehicle for making kids think about such weighty matters. . .and have fun doing it. My overall assessment of 'High Spirits' is that it's certainly worth reading. Unfortunately, it is a POD, which makes it a pricey paperback. I hope Ms. Salerni tries for an agent and commercial publisher. It seems to me this book should be a good seller for a wide variety of readers. Those that like historicals will find plenty of good detail to keep them interested, romance readers will shed a tear over poor Maggie's lovelife, folks interested in spiritualism will find a fascinating history of a pair of the original spirit rappers. I certainly recommend the book to anybody who is interested in the subject matter, but also to the general reader looking for a darn good tale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2007

    High Spirits is a 'high flyer'

    High Spirits is an entertaining and page turning 'read'. Maggie grows from a selfish, thoughtless teen into a young woman of great empathy. Kate is an enigma wise beyond her years at eleven, she becomes a clever and imaginative 'high spirited' adult. High Spirits creatively describes the birth and development of Spiritualism in the U.S. through an imaginative and interesting story of the people who lived the experience. A unique blend of fiction and fact!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    Too Clever for their own Good

    Maggie and Kate Fox are mischievous teenage sisters living in New York in the nineteenth century. They love playing pranks on family members and friends, but carry things too far when they pretend they can communicate with ghosts. Before long, they have managed to fool their parents, their neighbors, and newspaper reporters into thinking they are spirit mediums with supernatural powers. Readers will root for these two spunky girls as they deceive adults across the country and eventually become famous for their spirit-rapping, their mysterious ghost writing, and their seances in which the table moves by itself and candles mysteriously extinguish themselves. Not everything goes smoothly however. Some people are determined to prove the girls frauds and devise tests to catch them. Others denounce the girls as witches and threaten their lives. Then to complicate matters further, one of the sisters falls in love with a man who does his best to break up the Fox Sisters¿ act. This is a fascinating read with lively and engaging characters ¿ and a true story, too!

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