Sunday 21 June 2020

SPIRITED by Julie Cohen

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom? 

 In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father's death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked... As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

This is a book that I found out about via Hachette Australia, so I want to thank them for sending me a copy. The blurb sounded so intriguing I was really looking forward to checking it out.

When Viola gets married, she's still mourning the loss of her beloved father and feels lost and alone. With her childhood best friend now her husband, they move away to the coast to start their life together. But their marriage isn't going the way she imagined. There's too much distance between them, and she soon finds solace in photography.

Henriette is a well-known spirit medium making her own way in a man's world, and has a keen eye for the obvious. But no matter how far she gets, she's always trying to outrun her secret past.

After Viola and Henriette cross paths, they both find something very unexpected...

I really liked how this book started in such a sad place, which soon leads into a series of interesting, unexpected and wondrous events.

There are a lot of moving parts in this story with multiple characters full of personal thoughts and complicated pasts. While all of these separate components work apart from each other through much of the introduction, everything leads into a very intricate and exciting connection.

Told in several POVs, spanning through different timelines, this amazing tale of love, grief and finding your place in a very unstable world, took me on an interesting historical adventure set during a time we don't read much about in Victorian fiction.

Of course, as expected, there were a lot of things that angered me about the treatment of women and the accepted sexist attitudes of men. But it was wonderful to watch how these women used their own intelligence to overcome these obstacles. Sometimes it takes escaping into a loveless marriage. Other times it entails a bit of cunning manipulation. And even pretending you're someone you're not. But all of the options are a result of how their world, devoid of respect for women, shapes them.

The spiritual medium and spirit photography angle was utterly captivating. These happen to be two topics I've always found fascinating and enjoy reading about. To have them combined in a way that introduced the human condition provided an entertaining, rich and mysterious experience.

Spirited is a thought-provoking historical tale full of rich and deep characters with sympathetic and intriguing qualities. There are plenty of surprises, unexpected turns, unconventional friendships, remarkable love stories, and a sense of wonder that remains after the last page.

I enjoyed every minute I spent with this hauntingly beautiful book.

Spirited, July 2020, ISBN 9781409179887, Orion

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