Talking to the Dead by Barbara Weisberg

***image1***During the mid-nineteenth century, various movements throughout the nation were on the rise giving way to free thought: ­Romanticism, abolition, temperance, women’s rights ­ and spiritualism.

Barbara Weisberg takes the reader back to mid-nineteenth century American society and presents an enticing biography of the Fox sisters–two young girls, Kate and Maggie–raised in upstate New York, who are able to hear mysterious knockings coming from within their small country home.The sisters’ apparent unique ability to communicate with the dead is soon discovered and made public, throwing them as mediums, along with their older sister Leah, into a blazing storm of controversial popularity which was to lead the western world into a new spiritual psyche to be later known as Modern Spiritualism.***image2***Throughout the biography, the author touches on some fascinating historical social concepts, such as the mid-nineteenth century regard for death and how the notion of mortality penetrated extensively through most facets of everyday life.Weisberg also touches on how the sisters turn out to be unknowing, yet dangerous social pioneering trend-setters in that mediumship gave women the rare chance to speak in public.The author examines the thrilling successes and emotional upheavals within the girls’ lives as they experience the power of celebrity and the spiritualist movement gains momentum not only in America, but also across the Atlantic.***image3***Yet this book is also a study in human behavior and the dynamics of a structured society. Weisberg captures the blaze of excitement and anticipation throughout the western world of those wanting to believe in the new ideas suggested by the abilities of the Fox sisters, as well as the tremendous ridicule and scorn of those feeling threatened by the girls’ power. Moreover, the author is also able to capture the changing dynamics between the sisters, in their own personal battle for power amongst themselves.It is a fascinating book rich with the colors and tastes of mid-nineteenth century America and the spiritualist movement, which it bore. Weisberg has written a definite page turner which includes a true to life surprise ending.

Read Interview with Barbara Weisberg in Personal Dialague- Merlian News.

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by C. Tallon
Barbara Weisberg is the author of Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism. She is a published poet and also the author of several children’s books. Before turning to writing full time, she was a television producer whose eclectic credits included creating the situation comedy series “Charles in Charge” and producing “To Care,” a documentary on home care for the terminally ill that was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.