Jeanne Mackin

1997 Wallace Fellow
Ithaca, NY

Research at AAS

The Sweet By and By

Maggie and Katie Fox spent their Victorian childhood in a supposedly haunted house in Hydesville, New York. To entertain themselves, the girls devised a method of contacting the noisy spirit. (In fact, they rigged up apples on strings to fake the bumping sounds.) As word of their unusual talents spread, the girls became famous, touring the country to hold seances with the likes of Horace Greeley and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. Helen West, a journalist trying to recover from the death of her lover, lives in a current-day town similar to Hydesville, and has been contracted to write a definitive essay about Maggie. It is through her research that she develops a strange, unexpected kinship with her subject, and learns that, though gone from this world, the dead have much more to say.

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