For me Deborah Noyes’ Captivity was one of those books that as soon as I heard about it, I had to read it. Ghosts, sisters, religion, a young female locked away in her room – it had to be great, right? I was not disappointed.
Captivity tells two stories. One is the account of the real life Fox sisters who helped give birth to a religious movement of the 1800’s, Spiritualism, based on their “rappings” – communication with the dead. Their story focuses mainly on young Maggie, as she was separated from her sister Kate in an effort to disprove their claims, but the rappings continue and so does their endurance of invasive inspections, skeptical séances and threatening mobs.As Noyes portrays it, Maggie struggles with knowing if the gift is a blessing or a curse.
The second story, and the one I was most swept up in, is that of Clara Gill. Clara is an only child and a young twenty-something recluse. Her self-induced isolation begins as the result of a mysterious tragedy that spans the Atlantic to a time before she and her widowed father came to America and still lived in London. To occupy her time and (the reader senses) also for company, Clara sketches animals – birds in particular. Noyes makes the juxtaposition of this interest to her character obvious, but not crushing.
Maggie and Clara’s stories cross when Maggie takes a service job in the Gill household. Maggie is intrigued with the young hermit, and makes it her mission to use her friendship to coax Clara out physically and emotionally. Clara is not a “believer” in Maggie’s spirits, but she does fall for Maggie’s personality, and so she opens her heart and mind to what Maggie offers.
The climatic union of their stories is one of the best scenes in literature that I’ve read in a long time. I was transported to a time when my brothers’ stories could make me sleep with my light on for days – I was holding my breath and on the edge of my seat in anticipation. To say anymore would be a spoiler. So, I’ll just leave you with my recommendation to read.
Wrapped within Captivity are all the things that bind us – love, loss, grief, expectation and belonging. Given the subject, the characters and the publisher-provided reading guide, Captivity would make for a great book club selection. Captivity will be available for purchase in June 2010.
Caitlin with Unbridled Books graciously provided me with an advance reading copy of Captivity.
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