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Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead
Synopses & Reviews
In Lily Dale, New York, the dead don't die.
Instead, spirits flit among the elms and stroll along the streets, sometimes dressed in garb more common 120 years ago, when Lily Dale was founded and suffragette Susan B. Anthony was a frequent guest.
According to Spiritualists who have ruled this Victorian hamlet for five generations, the dead don't go away and they stay anything but quiet. Every summer twenty thousand guests come to consult the town's mediums, who can hangout a shingle only after passing a test that confirms their connection to the spirit world.
On the hot June day when reporter Christine Wicker comes to the world's oldest and largest Spiritualist community, she is determined to understand the secret forces — human or otherwise — that keep Lily Dale alive. She follows three visitors: a newly bereaved widow; a mother whose son killed himself; and a beautiful, happily married wife whose first visit to Lily Dale brings an ominous warning.
Are the mediums cold-hearted charlatans, as Sinclair Lewis wrote of them? Or are they conduits for a hidden world that longs to bring peace and healing to the living, as psychologist William James and muckraker Upton Sinclair once hoped to prove?
Investigating a movement that attracted millions of Americans in the 1800s and now barely survives, Wicker moves beyond the mediums' front parlors and into the lives that tourists never see. She follows the mediums to a place where what we know and how we know it is the greatest mystery of all.
"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....[The] lack of resolution is refreshing...and wonderfully fitting for a book about the mystery of faith." Publishers Weekly
"[Wicker] arrived as a skeptic and left still somewhat doubtful but with a surprisingly open mind. Whether or not one accepts the existence of the supernatural, the resulting book is a very good read. Residents are often portrayed with humor but are never condescended to or ridiculed." Library Journal
Written with verve and humor, not to mention a reporter s skill in the art of people-watching. Wicker fills each page with anecdotes of ghosts, ghoulies and folks who go bump in the night. By the time we leave this odd town, we know what the author knows. That the road to enlightenment takes many a detour, and one just may lead down Main Street, Lily Dale.
In Lily Dale, New York, the dead don't die. Instead, they flit among the elms and stroll along the streets. According to Spiritualists who have ruled this community for five generations, the spirits never go away — and they stay anything but quiet. Every summer twenty-thousand guests come to consult the town's mediums in hopes of communicating with their dead relatives or catching a glimpse of the future. Weaving past and present, the living and the dead, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Christine Wicker investigates a religion that attracted millions of Americans since the 1800s. She reveals the longings for love and connection that draw the people to "the Dale," introducing us to a colorful cast of characters along the way — including famous visitors such as Susan B. Anthony, Harry Houdini, and Mae West. Laugh out loud funny at times, this honest portrayal shows us that it ultimately doesn't matter what we believe; it is belief itself that can transform us all.
About the Author
Christine Wicker is the author of the highly acclaimed national bestseller Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead. She is a former religion reporter for the Dallas Morning Newsand has won numerous awards for her journalism.
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History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General