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If the Spirit Moves You Paperback – July 1, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If the Spirit Moves You chronicles the true life story of British Vogue writer Justine Picardie's desperate effort to contact her deceased youngest sister. In a year's worth of journal entries, Picardie shares a common theme for those who are grieving a death: the intense yearning to fill the cavernous void, to hear her sister's voice. (Picardie's sister's story Before I Say Goodbye chronicles her death from cancer.) Initially, this memoir repeats the same struggle: Picardie tries yet another cockamamie contact-dead-people machine or meets with yet another charlatan medium and comes up feeling more isolated than when she started. Things begin to shift when Picardie encounters a medium who sees Ruth on a bicycle (she rode her bike everywhere) wearing her favorite linen shirt and promising Picardie that the two sisters will speak again someday. And yet, Picardie still feels empty. Finally, a massage therapist tells Picardie, "You know, you can't bring back the dead, but you can make your children happy."

"This seems to me like the best advice I've heard for some time," Picardie writes. And from here she begins the deeper spiritual work at hand: committing to the land of the living, accepting the limitations of death, while still being willing to love and silently engage in dialogue with her sister without a shred of proof of life after death to cling to. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

As an editor at London's Observer, Picardie hired her younger sister, Ruth, to write a series of columns chronicling her personal experiences with breast cancer. After submitting only a few essays, Ruth, the mother of two-year-old twins, died at age 33. Justine and Ruth had been exceptionally close, and here the surviving sibling offers diary entries from her own year of mourning between Good Friday 2000 and Easter Sunday 2001. Picardie is no stranger to death, undergoing an unusual number of losses through illness, accident and suicide, and this excess along with her deep grief over her sister's death leads her on a quest for answers to one of life's most basic mysteries: "Where do the dead go?" Missing Ruth terribly, Picardie realizes, "I didn't expect silence," and begins watching for signs and messages. Urgently seeking communication with "the other side," Picardie visits "spiritualists," scientific researchers and inventors of electronic machines that claim to record the voices of the dead. With obsessive hope and healthy skepticism, Picardie haunts the Internet, flies halfway around the world to a conference of psychic mediums and studies Freud and Jung's unpublished correspondences. She describes her dreams of Ruth and arguments with her rational "imaginary therapist." Frustrated with Ruth's silence, the author reveals the mourner's secret fear that "she doesn't love me anymore; she doesn't want to talk to me." Originally published by Macmillan in Great Britain, this well-told tale is a deeply touching, intellectually captivating investigation into the elusive nature of love and death.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157322992X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573229920
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Like the author, I'm very impatient New Age ideas, and have been agnostic much of my life. But after having watched two people I love die I was surprised by the sense they weren't gone, the feeling that, after their deaths, something was happening that was undeniable, yet not accessible through our usual sensory channels. I ordered this book because it looked interesting. It arrived at a time when (because of my profession) I had at least a thousand pages of manuscript to read and edit. And I opened this book at the post office the day it arrivved, read the first paragraph, and finished it that night. It's ironic and heartfelt at the same time--an amazing balance of belief in the unseen, also wariness about our vulnerability to too-easy beliefs and snake-oil cures.
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Format: Hardcover
Dear Ms. Picardie,
I listened to you on the radio program "Coast To Coast" with Barbara Simpson the other night-- Lovely! My nineteen year old son, Joshua, died in a motorcycle accident last year... Your description of your grieving process, your feelings, your thoughts, your "journey"-- all were spot-on and incredibly insightful. Now, no more words. Best wishes always, Jeffrey Bell-Zekas, Susanville, California USA======================
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Format: Paperback
If I could have written a book about my grieving process, this would have been it. Insightful, honest, heartfelt...this book touched on every aspect of going through the motions of life after someone close to you has passed over. I was surprised and comforted to read that I was not the only person in the world that thought "I just want to get an email from the other side....why can't we just email each other??".

The dialog of "real-life", dreams and thoughts is expertly woven together, and each chapter includes meaningful quotes from other authors. Many thanks to the author for her honesty.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book had personal resonance for me. I read it in one evening, and did enjoy it -- though found it to be very sad (how could it not be?). Justine Picardie goes on a quest to try to channel the spirit of her dead sister, Ruth. The book details the different methods that she attempts, some more successful than others. Ultimately, the book is proof of the enduring love between sisters.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, despite the maudlin subject matter. What a beautiful woman is Justine. Wish there were more in the world like her.
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