REVIEW by Willard Manus
The subtitle of this offbeat novel is A Novel of the Fox Sisters. Written in French by the Tunisian-born Hubert Haddad (translated by Jennifer Grotz), the book dives deep into American waters and finds rich, unexpected treasure there. The time is the 1840s onward to the end of that century, when the Spiritualist Movement was in full swing and mediums were as popular as movie stars, thanks to their ability to communicate with the dead.
KNOCKINGS the Fox sisters, Kate and Margaret have genuine psychic gifts,
gifts they were born with (honed by a childhood spent in a farm house
inhabited by a ghost they playfully called Mr Splitfoot.) Haddad follows
their fortunes as they grow up, turn professional, become famous and wealthy,
meet such luminaries as Frederic Douglass, Horace Greeley (whom Kate eventually
marries), Victoria Woodhull and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Always, even as they
rise in life, the sisters are under attack from their many enemies: priests,
Puritans, lawyers, scientists, scoffers and scam artists (some of whom
try to turn the sisters calling into a lucrative racket).