The Sweet By And By

Written by Jeanne Mackin
Review by Jetta Culpepper

The skillful intertwining of two stories of women living 150 years apart takes the reader’s mind through the trickery and unexplained happenings of spiritualism. Helen West receives a request to write a definitive essay on Maggie Fox, the founder of American Spiritualism. The many clients of this famous Spiritualist medium included wealthy and prominent people, like Horace Greeley and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, who sought contact with departed loved ones. Aware of Maggie Fox’s extensive use of knocking created by using such items as apples and string, Helen dares to question whether or not spirits really return. She ponders the unexplainable knocking in her farmhouse.

This is a highly recommended and entertaining historical novel set primarily in New York. Among the figures from history in the story is P. T. Barnum who found trickery to be captivating public entertainment. Readers will step into the mind of Helen as she oscillates from recreating the work and life of Maggie Fox back to her own life of mourning. Mystery created in part by Helen’s confused thinking brings the popular belief in spirits from the 1800s into the present time.