Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Captivity by Deborah Noyes

From the Back Cover:

This masterful historical novel is two stories:

The first centers upon the strange, true tale of The Fox Sisters, the family of enigmatic young women who, in upstate New York in 1848, proclaimed that they could converse with the dead. The second story is of the bright promise the Fox Sisters offer up to the skeptical Clara Gill, a reclusive woman of a certain age who long ago isolated herself with her wildlife paintings, following the scandalous loss of her beautiful young lover in London.

Captivity is a tale about physical desire and the hope that even the thinnest faith can offer up to a darkening heart.

My Thoughts:

This lush and lyrical historical novel is based on the real story of Maggie Fox, of the infamous Fox sisters, who claimed they could communicate with the dead and made a fortune conducting seances in mid-nineteenth-century New York. Intertwined with the sisters' story is the story of Clara Gill, a recluse haunted by a past that she fights to suppress every bit as hard as she fights to cling to it. Hers is a tragic story that slowly unravels as she is drawn into an unlikely friendship with Maggie, a woman who could end up being either her salvation or her undoing.

Part of the beauty of this book is the constant element of the unknown. Is Maggie faking or can she really communicate with the dead? If she is a faker, is it really so bad to give grieving people closure and peace? What happened all those years ago to Clara? Is she really mad? Is her version of past events reliable? Is she really a skeptic or is she secretly yearning for her own closure? It's remarkable to me that the author is able to create such realistic, compelling, and empathetic characters without ever really revealing the fundamental truths about them.

As I was reading this book I marked dozens of beautifully written passages and realized I could easily end up quoting the whole book in this review. So I forced myself to choose one to share as an example of the quality and resonance of the prose in this book, and this is it:

Real death is not a parlor game but a flat heaviness that weights the limbs, that makes every step a struggle, every breath reproach and violation. It is mold on the morning firewood and a chill that won't go even when the hearth is banked to roaring, even when the familiar quilt is wound full round weighted legs and feet on a stool like a winding sheet. It is the bitterness of herbs in an undertaker's parlor and damp shoes by a hole in the ground and the absence of sunlight and emptiness beyond reckoning.

There's not a word out of place in this gripping, touching, and deeply satisfying novel. One of my favorite books of the year.

     "Understand that thou thyself art another world in little, and hast with thee the sun and the moon, and also the stars. Thou seest that thou hast all those things which the world hath."
     All this, captive in me.

My Rating:  5 Stars out of 5

*Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

This book made my Best of 2010 List!


  1. Oh I've heard amazing things about this book and now that I've read your review I want it even more! *crosses fingers* Here's hoping!

  2. Dont count me in as I am overseas but thanks for this nice review.

  3. This sounds so good. Great review. I would love to enter.

    lisa.2713 at gmail dot com

  4. Le sigh....

    I am going to try to enter again and pray my browser doesn't crash on me. It hates Blogger :)

    I'd love to win, the library isn't going to order any. You're in my reader and I believe I got on as a follower, but then again I had crashed whilst doing it :)

  5. I've heard really great things about this book. I'm a public follower and would love to be entered.

    majik.of.mystee (at)

  6. just found your review site and love it. would love to win this book.

  7. Ah, I'm disappointed this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents! (I live in Canada.) Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  8. I've posted your giveaway in my sidebar. No need to enter me in the giveaway.

  9. Great review! This book sounds intriguing! I would love to enter the contest and am a follower.


  10. Wonderful review! You've got me hooked. I'd love to read this novel. I'm a follower. Thanks for visiting my MM and telling me about your blog and giveaway.


  11. I'd love to read this book

  12. This sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for the giveaway. Just became a follower via GFC.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  13. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for hosting a give away. Please enter me.
    I am a follower.

  14. A friend of mine just read this book and says I must read it! I'm actually going to the bookstore tonight to see if I can find a copy. No need to enter me in the giveaway, I will read it next week on vacation. I'm so excited!

  15. I follow and would love to read this book!


  16. I would love to read this book. I became a follower.
    nancysoffice at gmail dot com

  17. Sounds like a great book I am a follower so count me in on the giveaway.

  18. Hi Lady Q, thanks for taking part in Radiant Reviews:)
    I've not heard of this book but it sounds fascinating. I used to read a lot of historical fiction but I haven't read any for a while - might have to start that up again. A great review!
    BTW, I love the stuff in your side bar about Jamie Fraser - I LOVE that man!!!
    Anyway, feel free to visit me again tomorrow to take part in this weeks Radiant Reviews :)
    (I'm not taking part in the giveaway as I'm a UK blogger)


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