- File Size: 889 KB
- Print Length: 355 pages
- Publisher: allonymbooks; 1 edition (August 6, 2012)
- Publication Date: August 6, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008U66T6U
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,126,376 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Equilibrium Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
In London in 1903 a housemaid throws herself into the Thames. The reason is as old as time: impregnated by the master of the house where she worked, Martha was turned out in disgrace to give birth in the workhouse and hand her child to someone else to raise.
But she fails in her attempt to leave this world, and for the next two years she and her sister Epiphany support themselves with a stage act, with Epiphany as a psychic and Martha as her spirit guide. All the tricks of the trade are in evidence, but we soon suspect that Epiphany may well be the real thing. Yet we are cautious. As we should be.
Adelia, Martha's former mistress, wife of the man who impregnated her, has a habit of sneaking out of her own house to go secretly to the theater, where she happens to see Epiphany's act. Adelia's sister-in-law has recently been widowed, and there is some mystery about her husband's death in South Africa during the Boer War. Perhaps, Adelia thinks, Epiphany can contact him to learn the truth about his fate.
So Epiphany is engaged to give a private seance at Adelia's house, and Martha returns to the place in which she was once a servant, so invisible, as servants are, that a mob cap and an Irish accent make an adequate disguise. Her motives are mixed. She wants to help her former mistress, but she also yields to the temptation to revisit her past, to learn the truth of what happened to her in that house. Did the master ever care for her, or was she just the pleasure of the moment? And once that question is answered, the next arises: did she truly care for him, as she once told herself, or was it something else she wanted?
Adelia has her own questions. She tries to understand why her husband has begun to neglect her, and she struggles with the difficulties of having married above her station, of being a tradesman's daughter among the aristocracy. Together these two women, Martha and Adelia, begin their search for truth.
The house itself conspires with the characters. Hidden corridors allow both servants and masters to navigate in secret both public and private rooms. Within the rigid structure, the secret passages subvert the discipline the house imposes, while within the rigid social structure of the time, the women must find clever ways, often subversive ways, to navigate their own lives.
The writing style is both unusual and effective. The author leaves things out, just as the stories we experience in real life leave things out. From a glimpse, we must construct a situation. And as in real life, we are not always certain what is going on or who is trustworthy. Most enjoyable are the author's surprising turns of phrase--original, poignant, illuminating. "... a lullaby gone lewd on gin..." And the odd historical reference. "Mrs. Keppel's knickers!"
The initial truth sought is the fate of a young man who died under mysterious circumstances in a faraway land. But the search for this truth sets loose one truth after another, until in the end no one is deceived.
It is written mostly in the present tense, which I don't typically enjoy, so it is a testament to how captivating the story is that I hardly noticed it. Be warned that it is quite long, so I wouldn't recommend starting it late in the evening (as I did - I was up until one in the morning).
Read the blurb, try the sample. If those interest you, you will not regret reading this book.
It starts slowly. At first, I wondered what was going on and where it was going, because the author dishes out information in tantalizingly brief snippets, but the elegant writing held me, and I soon became ensnared in the mystery of what happened to a young man who went from England to south Africa during the Boer War and never returned. The method of unravelling his fate falls to a medium who, despite one bit of subterfuge in her 'act', seems to be genuine. As the story progresses, the mystery draws more of the cast into its web, linking them together in unexpected ways, then it builds to a powerful conclusion.
Secrets of the heart are unravelled along with the illusions of Martha and Adelia, the first woman an ex-housemaid in the house of the second. They both loved the same man, but did he love either of them in return? Martha left the house after becoming pregnant. She gave the child away and threw herself into the Thames only to be rescued by her sister. The details surrounding this event are shadowy until the end when the reason for Martha's sister, Ephiphany's, skill as a true voice for spirits becomes apparent.
During the course of the story, Adelia comes to see her history with her husband Rafe in a new light, as does Martha. Though painful, the revelations make both women stronger and able to move on with their lives. The parallels between the two are poignant indeed.
Essentially this is a simple story, but made rich by its psychological depth, evocative writing and the calm, apparently all-seeing, presence of the aptly-named Ephiphany.
Highly recommended for readers of literature, historical fiction and metaphysical fiction.
This book is Awesome Indies quality approved [...]
I received the book free in return for an honest review.
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