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Publishers Weekly, 2003-01-20 Since it's become nearly extinguished, the American Spiritualism movement seems more ripe for sociological study and amused incredulity than a topic for deep reflection or journalistic memoir. But Wicker, a Dallas Morning News religion reporter, resists her own skepticism just as Lily Dale's citizens resist letting the movement die. The result is a portrait not just of an upstate New York town built 122 years ago on old-fashioned spirituality, but also of the mediums who practice there, their clients, and Wicker herself, who lets details of her own spiritual beliefs lightly shade her travels to Lily Dale. Although the book details the town's story, Wicker uses its history merely as a framework to explore more slippery topics, e.g., the nature of faith, the value of belief and the need for solace. She explores these areas through the stories of those who visit Lily Dale annually, craving a few insightful words about deceased family members or hoping for a premonition about romances, careers or children. Some of the tales are sad ones, but Wicker's jaunty pacing and humor keep the work from growing too dark and leave the reader with a feeling of tenderness, rather than pity, toward her subjects. She also weaves in stories of trickery, giving the tales of otherworldliness a nicely earthbound counterpoint. By the end, Wicker feels subtly changed, and she offers no answers as to why that might be or how long it may last. This lack of resolution is refreshing, however, and wonderfully fitting for a book about the mystery of faith. Agents, Janet Wilkins Manus and Jandy Nelson. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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