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Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead

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3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  940 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
In Lily Dale, New York, the dead don't die. Instead, they flit among the elms and stroll along the streets. According to spiritualists who have ruled this community for five generations, the spirits never go away—and they stay anything but quiet. Every summer twenty thousand guests come to consult the town's mediums in hopes of communicating with dead relatives or catching ...more
ebook, 312 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Melora
May 29, 2016 Melora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I actually heard of Lily Dale through an old episode of the television show “Supernatural.” A psychics and mediums-themed town sounded quirky and interesting – sort of like Colonial Williamsburg or Gatlinburg, but …. different! Also, I have books on the supernatural-related investigations of William James and the Spiritualist beliefs of Arthur Conan Doyle in my TBR stacks, and Lily Dale, founded during the same period in which these men were actively working in the Spiritualist movement, seemed ...more
Tracey
Nov 21, 2007 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libraryread
I'd read another book by the author last month Not In Kansas Anymore and enjoyed her writing style, as well as her open-minded skepticism.
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Lily Dale, in upstate New York, is one of the last bastions of Spiritualism - reaching its height of popularity around the turn of the 20th century, with another big boost after the flu epidemic of 1918. Most of the townspeople are still Spiritualists & hold various seminars, camps and other gatherings for those wishing to learn about their
...more
Bobbye Villanueva
Sep 11, 2007 Bobbye Villanueva rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking to read a memoir
Shelves: metaphysical
Lily Dale, the town: a place inhabited by the remnant of a religion started two centuries ago by two adolescent girls who believed they could talk to the dead.

Lily Dale, the book: yet another disappointment in my continued efforts to research Spiritualism. The author spends far too much time regurgitating her personal impressions and not enough time expanding upon the rich history of this enchanting place. This might have been bearable if the author was somewhat interesting but she's a total bo
...more
Lisa James
Jun 18, 2014 Lisa James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
I picked this book up one morning on the cruise ship, when it was still only maybe 5AM & I couldn't sleep so I went to the library. It was in the unlocked take one-leave one cabinets. I think it meant for me to find it. I'd never heard of the Lily Dale community, but I live in FL & have heard about Cassadega, in central FL, which is named after the lake in Lily Dale. It's a Spiritualist community, full of those who can commune with spirits, those who believes that life does indeed go on ...more
Rexanna Ipock-Brown
This is a very well researched book about trance mediums and Spiritualism in the New York town of Lilly Dale. Even though I have been a trance medium for over 30 years, I learned some very interesting things. I feel Ms. Wicker was fair, funny, and fortunate in writing this book. It jumps around a bit, but it gets pulled together in the end.
Chris
Aug 23, 2007 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking to learn more about Spiritualism
Written by a journalist, the book tries to maintain a balance between belief and skepticism but this causes it to lose some of the ability to draw the reader in and keep him hooked. An interesting read but her storytelling technique is sometimes a bit scattered. An easy book to pick up after an absence.
Betsey
Dec 01, 2007 Betsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author being interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR and I knew I had to read the book. It is a fascinating read and is not scary at all for those of you who squirm at the thought of ghosts.
Danielle
Sep 18, 2007 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: visitors to lily dale.
I read this right before i went to Lily Dale, and it really gave me a lot of insight into what i was getting into. Many of the 'characters' were actually in the town. a must read if you are going there, or just interested in the history of the place.

Thomas
I liked this book, but not as much as I wanted to.

This is ostensibly a history of Lily Dale, New York -- a community that has been ectoplasmic since the late 1800s. I made my way to the book being most interested in the Victorian/Gilded Age Spiritualist era, rather than the world of today's New Age Feel-Gooderies.

The author's accounts do cover the 1800s happenings a bit, but there's much more time given to the spiritual quests of the current Lily Dale residents, mostly a bunch of spooky-ooky o
...more
AngelaGay Kinkead
I bought this book because I was vaguely familiar with Lily Dale, NY and I wanted to know more. Bought it at the Chautauqua Institution Bookstore (a great little bookstore!) on the shores of Chautauqua Lake, just south of Cassadaga Lake where the quaint victorian village of Lily Dale was founded in 1879. Then perhaps one of the largest and now oldest Spiritualist communities in America, it has a place in American church history. This area of Western New York, where Spiritualism started, was know ...more
Nick
Nov 27, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lily Dale, a tiny speck of a place in upstate New York, is so small it's not even considered a town. It's a community--specifically, the oldest Spiritualist community in the United States. Every summer, thousands of visitors flock to Lily Dale hoping to psychic advice, communicate with dead loved ones, spot ghosts, or even to learn how to become mediums themselves. Lily Dale is a place where nearly all of the full-time residents believe that the spirit world and the earthly plane intersect, and ...more
Lisa
Oct 25, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to read a few other reviews of this book that say it is "boring" or that there was too much of the author's thoughts on her experiences as a visitor and too little of the history of Lily Dale.

I'll agree I wanted to read more about Lily Dale, but one author's experiences cannot encompass an entire history of more than 130 years. Aside from that, I don't believe there is a lot of research materials to draw upon to include in a written history of the place. I found the personal not
...more
Peregrine 12
Jun 27, 2013 Peregrine 12 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I found it very interesting in its historical description of the U.S. spiritualist movement of the late 1800's and early 1900's. This book tied together a lot of things I'd learned about but never formerly associated: Houdini's fascination with spirits, the Conan Doyle/fairy fascination, the Shakers, and how the members of mainstream U.S. religions dealt with this nationwide phenomenon. The mention of the cultural mentality following WWI and the 1918 flue epidemic was ...more
Jamie
Mar 25, 2012 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, local_wny
I'm only withholding the 5th star because I was anticipating more historical content. I am however, far from disappointed with this book. I read the majority of it in two extended sittings. It does read more like a memoir (which I enjoy). I related to the author and enjoyed her voice. I feel the book is written with a good balance of skepticism and a desire to believe. It was definitely interesting and reminded me of gifts that I may have had but lost along the way. I've been to Lily Dale severa ...more
Sarah
I enjoyed this book. Not as much as Not in Kansas Anymore but I enjoyed it. The few major flaws I noted were scattered storytelling, lack of in-depth explanations, reflections on town history, etc., such as mentioned by the below reviewer.

However. I do like Wicker's writing style. It's rollicking, engaging, vivid--I can still quote you back some sentences, whereas most books leave me blank. It's her engaging style and ingrained personality quirks that bump me up to rating this a 3.5.

The town is
...more
Miriam
May 20, 2008 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spiritualists
Recommended to Miriam by: Read a couple novels mentioning Lily Dale and wanted more concre
Shelves: non-fiction
This a subject account of the author's experiences with and feelings about the spiritualism community. I was looking for more of a history (how it was founded, how other people at the time reacted, and so on), so it wasn't very satisfying to me. People looking for primarily contemporary accounts may like it better, although I feel that it may still be rather unfocused.

Also, does anyone know if there was some big story about Lily dale in the past few years to bring it to public attention? Because
...more
Clover
Jul 14, 2011 Clover rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. A journalist goes to Lily Dale, a town founded by and made up by mediums, and tells about what she learned. What I really liked about the way this is written is that even though this turns into a self-discovery journey for the author, not once does she attempt to convert the reader or dissuade the reader about what or what not to believe. She simply gives the facts of her observations, even going back and forth with what she thinks might be true or not true.

Because it isn't a "tryin
...more
J.D. Horn
Feb 08, 2014 J.D. Horn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wicker opens herself up, letting us peer behind the curtain to see her own doubts and insecurities as she goes about researching the famous psychic community of Lily Dale, NY. Torn between a desire to believe and a healthy skepticism, Wicker wades through the (often) absurd in an attempt to get a glimpse at the ineffable. Wicker avoids both Stockholm syndrome and cynicism in her search to learn the "truths" of Lily Dale.
William C Baker
Amusement and wisdom

Entertaining and thought provoking. A few valid life lessons are woven into the account. Pleasant series of experiences is an easy read.
Laurie
I have been to Lily Dale many times. It is such a serene and peaceful place. Love walking around the entire place. So beautiful. I was astounded by the history and information in this book.So many things I did not know ant it. This place is really a spa for your spirit and senses. The fact that you are not the only "visitor" there makes it more interesting.
Anne Fischer
The topic of spiritualism has always fascinated me so when "Bookbub" offered me this book on my kindle, I jumped at it.
I had no idea there was a town in upstate New York settled by spiritualists. Learning about their craft (powers) was fascinating.
Like the author, I don't know how much I really believe was authentic. I did feel, however, the book was very poorly written.
It almost felt like it was a first time manuscript rather than a completed literary work.
Carla
Feb 24, 2017 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review: Ghostland: No Man's Land   I was quite excited to spend my monthly Audible credit on this book; what a fascinating idea--reframing American history by examining our relationship with our landmark haunted locales.
 
I, unfortunately, have returned it to Audible.
 
Each house is well-chosen: the Lemp mansion, for example, as a haunted touchstone in American history and culture...
and then debunked as an actual, or at least a full as-known haunting by the author. Chapter after chapter.
 
I hung on
...more
Donna
Apr 23, 2017 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gated community where everyone is a medium. History of the town and some of its inhabitants.
Located in western N.Y.
Sara
Jun 29, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2008
This was a fascinating book, but very different from what I expected. I read this book because of two recent reads that took place in the city of Lily Dale; one book mentioned this particular book as a good book to read for more background information on the town, and since I enjoyed the books, I was pleased to see that the library carried this book as well.

I expected a textbook-ish read, a typical non-fiction book. But this book read more like a memoir, full of tales from the author's own summe
...more
Melissa
Jan 26, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paranormal
Lily Dale, by Christine Wicker was an interesting book. The author, a journalist who focuses on religion, based this book on visits to the town of Lily Dale, a spiritualistic community in New York State. While it reads like fiction, this is a true account on her experiences in the town and the people she meets (some names changed).

While originally just going to see what all the hype is about, Wicker has to concede by the end of the book that there is something special about Lily Dale. While some
...more
JL Smither
May 25, 2014 JL Smither rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever there was a religion or belief system that I really wanted to believe was real, it’s Spiritualism. When your loved ones die, they stick around and help you out. If not your loved ones, then spiritual beings from another dimension or something can help you. They leave you presents and help you get parking spaces.

In this book, the author travels to Lily Dale, New York, several times and gets to know the mediums and other residents who live and work there. She participates in the touristy
...more
Jessica
Sep 16, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
Christine Wicker is a journalist who reported on different religious and spiritual topics before embarking on a three year journey to understand the Mediums in the community of Lily Dale in New York State. She assures her reader that in her travels she has tried to be open mind to the possibilities of the universe and she is not just a critic looking to sell a story of fraud. What she does present as the most compelling aspect of Lily Dale is the power of human connection and love.

This book cove
...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Lily Dale is definitely a place I want to visit--probably more for the pop culture and mythic reputation it has among western new yorkers than because I "believe." This book gave me a really great introduction to the town and maybe what to expect. It didn't peak my desire to go any quicker or deflate my expectations. It's a curiosity.

The story that is woven through the pages of the book is about the town itself, three stories of people changed by Lily Dale, and the journalist trying to get at t
...more
Regan
Mar 11, 2014 Regan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Lily Dale by Chirstine Walker. This isn't a typical fiction novel but a "True story of the town that talks to the dead" as it explains in the subtitle. It is written by a journalist who travels to this town for an extended period of time to investigate what this place is all about.
PROS: I liked how the the book provided context on what the town is about. It talked about how and why it was founded and how it dates all the way back to 1879. I also enjoyed how the author took a very unbia
...more
Jessi
A skeptical journalist visits a well established historical Spritualist community in upstate NY and explores the concepts of spirit communication, mediumship, healing and self growth. More than anything, in trying to remain "objective" about what she sees, hears, experiences in Lily Dale you see the author's own beliefs (or "disbelief" as the case may be) bleed through as she seems afraid to declare anything "real" or "fake" and muddles around a lot. It's apparent that something is happening and ...more
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Thoughts on Lily Dale 1 2 Nov 07, 2014 02:30AM  
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