The novel opens in London, in the 1880s, with the Barton household on the brink of collapse. Mother, father, and daughter provoke one another, consciously and unconsciously, and a horrifying crisis is triggered. As the familys tragedy is told several times from different perspectives, events are recast and sympathies shift. In the dark of night, a chilling sexual spectre is making its way through the house, hovering over the sleeping girl and terrorizing her fragile mother. Are these visions real, or is there something more sinister, and more human, to fear? A spiritualist is summoned to cleanse the place of its terrors, but with her arrival the complexities of motive and desire only multiply. The mothers failing health and the fathers many secrets fuel the growing conflicts, while the daughter flirts dangerously with truth and fantasy.
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"At its strongest, the multiple-viewpoint narration yields psychological depth and a number of clever surprises; at its weakest, it can slow the book's momentum to an uncomfortably slow (if authentically Victorian) pace." - PW.
"Phillips re-tells the same events from four perspectives (a la Rashomon) , revealing just enough information each time to change the reader's allegiances." - Booklist.
"Readers can expect to be mightily confused and amused by this ghostly thriller-spoof, which gives Henry James a run for the money." - Library Journal.
"An impressive step forward for the versatile Phillips, who continues to engage, surprise and entertain. " - Kirkus.
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Arthur Phillips was born in Minneapolis in 1969 and educated at Harvard. He
has been a child actor, a jazz musician, a speechwriter, a dismally failed
entrepreneur, and a five-time Jeopardy! champion.
His first novel, Prague, a national bestseller, was named a New York Times Notable Book, and received The Los Angeles Times/Art Seidenbaum Award for best first novel. His second novel, The Egyptologist, was a national and international bestseller, and was on more than a dozen Best of 2004 lists. His other novels include Angelica, The Song Is You, and The Tragedy of Arthur. His work has been translated into over twenty languages.
He lives in New York with his wife and two sons.
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