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Photographing Fairies Hardcover – June 16, 1992

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Haunting, beautifully written, offbeat and convincing, this first novel is set in England during the 1920s, when the art of photography was young. Szilagyi's protagonist is American portrait photographer Charles Castle, who is about to be hanged for a murder he did not commit. Castle narrates a mesmerizing tale of how he was enlisted by the eccentric author, parapsychologist and spirit photographer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his crusade to make the world believe in fairies, and chronicles his gradual transformation from total skeptic to one convinced that spirits exist. Aiding Castle in tracking down and photographing the creatures are two seemingly innocent yet menacing young girls, both gifted with the ability to see the fairies in a garden owned by their syphilitic father. Gypsies, burglars, adulterers, a loudmouthed British constable who has his own set of purported fairy photographs and a minister who writhes stark naked in a moonlit garden as fairies dance on his skin are elements in a quest that hurtles Castle toward a prison cell even while he tries to communicate with quicksilver sprites. A gossamer delight, anchored with sharp humor and pulsing with the tension of a detective novel, this magical debut will keep readers absorbed right up to its moving final pages.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This rather bizarre first novel is an engaging mixture of fact and fiction. Hoping to win a reward offered by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, hapless photographer Charles Castle tries to prove that some apparently genuine photographs of fairies are actually brilliant frauds. Soon, however, Castle wants to prove the opposite; he is desperate to locate and photograph on his own the fairies he thinks populate an English garden. This quest leads him into a series of mishaps involving gypsies, murderers, and a whole cast of truly unique characters. Readers will feel compelled to finish this book to see what happens to all the strange characters Castle encounters on his venture. Recommended for general readers with a taste for slightly offbeat stories.
-Patricia C. Heaney, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (June 16, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345377516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345377517
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,386,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kellytwo on April 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Offbeat, quirky--to be sure. This engaging story, set in the early 1920s is great fun to read, due to the slightly off-kilter main character, Charles Castle. He's naïve to the point of painfulness, and prone to go charging off in new directions without the assistance of a reliable map. A photographer by trade--and a not-so-good one at that--he is thrown off balance when his London studio is invaded by a small-town constable, Michael Walsmear. Walsmear has photographs that he wants to be validated. Problem is, they're not very good photos, and the subject is entirely improbable.

But, to prove that many times we see what we want to see, Castle--after a bit of tweaking--does see the `fairies' captured on film by Walsmear. Castle then rushes off to see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of the marvelous Sherlock Holmes mystery novels) who has a bit of a reputation in this field. In fact, Sir Arthur has his own photographs of fairies, for which he is seeking validation.

From there, the tale gets `mysteriouser and mysteriouser' until all the loose ends are satisfactorily tied together. Along the way, while journeying to the small rural village of Burkinwell, Castle is robbed on the train by two very strange characters, Paolo and Shorty, who may or may not be members of the gypsie troupe, with caravans parked just outside the town limits. There's also Esmirelda, the maid-of-all-work at the Starry Night (the local hostelry); the beautiful Linda Drain, wife of Tom, the local minister, who has his own difficulties with which to contend; the Templetons--father Brian, and daughters Anna and Clara--whose garden houses the fairies, and . . .

Some books can be easily capsulized; others stubbornly resist. This is one of the latter.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "pangloss_" on September 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
With all due respect, I think the raves in other reviews are a bit overstated, unless, like one reviewer, you're someone with a particular interest in faeries. That said, I enjoyed the book. It's a cute story, if it's still possible to use "cute" non-perjoratively about something other than a small child or animal. The characters are likeable, if not particularly deep. The story moves easily. There's nothing of great substance here, but a pleasant book to read on a lazy weekend if you're not feeling up to, say, Gaddis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Neal Wakershauser on March 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you liked the NetFlix version of Photographing Fairies you will be mesmerized by the novel. An excellent story. A page-turner. You will never take another walk in the woods without recalling this story.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By vern on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the book, especially being a person who loves collecting farie items. But not only was it about faries, but a bit of mystery. If you like these two, too then you will really enjoy the book !
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nice character exploration
Semi psychedelic fantasy setting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Definitely wasn't what I was expecting. Left me stunned. Didn't take long for me to get into the book.
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