Book Review :: Captivity

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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13 Replies to “Book Review :: Captivity

  1. Ooh, this sounds really good. Would you consider it scary? It certainly won't stop me from reading it, LOL, but I'm curious.

  2. This sounds right up my alley! I find the Fox sisters and the whole Victorian spiritualism movement fascinating, so I'd like to read it for that alone. But it sounds like the other story line is even better!

  3. Misti – It isn't scary at all… there are some 'creepy' scenes, but not what I'd call scary. The scene that I alluded to in the review does have you reading very quickly to see what happens.

    Nymeth – Yes, if your at all interested in the Fox sisters, you love this. I had never read anything about them before now.

    Diane – I know, I love the cover, too! I should have worked something into the review about that.

  4. Sounds like a super read –

    Wonderful to discover your splendid blog

    Thanks for sharing


  5. Oh, so glad you clarified about the "scary". I'm a wuss….so I'd marked this one off of the list. Now, I'll add it back!

  6. Elisabeth, hi,

    Deb Noyes here. Long story… I left my laptop open the other day to share your lovely review with my husband, and my "Wimpy Kid"-obsessed tween evidently thought it would be funny to comment, so please excuse (I only noticed the HP comment today when my editor forwarded your link).

    In any case, I'll make it my opportunity to write and thank you–and your readers–for taking the time to discuss the book! I'm so grateful for that, and for your good words.

  7. Oh! Hi, Deb – Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate your time. I really did enjoy Captivity, and it looks like we have sparked some interest. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Not sure what activities are planned in conjunction with the release, but I'd be happy to participate. Caitlin has my contact or you can email me at: readbabbette (at) yahoo (dot) com.

    My best, Elisabeth

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