"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Inamorata

Title: Inamorata
Author: Joseph Gangemi

An historical novel set in the early-1920s, this is an exploration into spiritualism. The Scientific American has declared a contest: $5,000 to anyone who can prove, according to strict testing conditions, that they have psychic ability. Harvard graduate student Martin Finch is dispatched with the rest of the team to verify the ability of the beautiful and beguiling Mina Crawley whose sceances bring forth a rather agressive ghost.

Is Mina the real thing? Or a skilled charlatan? And what about her ob/gyn husband or any of the other odd characters Martin finds in and connected to the Crawley household? As he tries to get to the truth of Mina's apparent abilities, Martin finds his objectivity in danger as he falls under Mina's bewitching manner.

I majored in psychology and was intrigued by the subject and the time period, when hypnosis was a parlor game and spiritualism was the rage of society. But I was quickly sucked in by Gangemi's artful prose and clever turn of a phrase. Martin was a most capable narrator, perhaps more self-deprecating than deserved. The ending didn't answer every question and wasn't as definite or solid as I would have liked, but the vagueness of some of it fit the book's tone. This is one author I plan to read more books by.