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The Spiritualist

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  721 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Sometimes truth is the greatest illusion of all.

In a cold January morning in 1856, Evelyn Atherton’s husband is found murdered after attending an exclusive séance. Having “married up” into New York society, Evie herself is the immediate suspect. Ostracized and vulnerable, she knows that to clear her name she must retrace her husband’s last steps. And so, joining forces wi
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Paperback, 420 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,596)
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Linda
THE SPIRITUALIST was the fourth story that I have read by Megan Chance and a trip back to 1857's New York City. This was such a hard review to write; I was tempted to give it three stars and skip sharing my actual thoughts about the book. I will have to be very careful not to give too much away.

The back cover indicates it is a cold morning in January 1856 but the beginning of each chapter indicates it is 1857. Evelyn and Peter Atherton's three-year marriage was at a stand-still. A lawyer, Peter
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Talulah Mankiller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy
The Spiritualist is a delightful romp of a story about murder, seances and the supernatural with Victorian/Gothic atmosphere.
Evie has "married up" when she becomes Mrs. Peter Atherton, but not long afterward he is killed and she is the main suspect. His influential family is ready to see her charged and punished for his murder and believe she has done it for his money.
Dorothy Bennett is a wealthy old woman intent on contacting her deceased sons through seances. When Dorothy discovers Evie's s
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Aviva
This book was downright gripping. I knew I was being conned and I totally didn't care because I wanted to know how it ended. Okay, so Evelyn Atherton's husband is obsessed with this medium and takes Evelyn to see him. That night he disappears and Evelyn's convinced something awful has happened but everybody's telling her she's nuts and in the 1850's a woman might as well be window dressing or a pretty canary or something if she's in society so she gets wholly ignored. Then he actually DOES show ...more
Marti
In the end, I was disappointed in this book. I was excited about it early on and spent every available moment reading it but by around the middle, it kind of lost its power. At that point, I kept reading because it wasn't so bad that I wanted to give up on it but rather I wanted to just get the reading of it over so that I could go on to something I might like more. The main character, Evelyn Atherton (Evie to her friends) was a middle class young woman, the only child of an investigator and a w ...more
Jane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane
Aug 11, 2008 Diane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys historical novels.
Shelves: a-favorite-read
I do not read many historical novels, but a few years ago a friend raved about An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance. I read the book and just loved it! Soon after I read Susannah Morrow, also by Megan Chance, (Salem Witchcraft) and was also pleased.

Her latest book The Spiritualist was released in May 2008, and it was excellent. Set in 1857 in New York City, I could not put it down. From the paranormal fun of séances, spiritualists, murders, and dangerous secrets galore, this was a great read. Me
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Maria
Whereas the first chapter was interesting and promising, what follows made me think that this is a terrible, terrible book. The heroine is so passive I felt like slapping her, and the identity of the murderer is so obvious that you can guess it from chapter one, provided that you've read the sinopsis too. YES, IT'S REALLY THAT OBVIOUS!
I don't normally bother writing negative reviews, but I can't stand heroines who claim to be smart and intelligent and then behave like damsels in distress / are
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Sophie
Interesting premise. I like the idea of the antihero and how the author changes the reader's view of the characters as the story unfolds. If it was rather difficult to believe the climactic scene could have occurred in just the way it did, it was a satisfying outcome either way. I especially liked that the heroine's view of herself and her world changed completely from the beginning of the novel to the end. The author did a fairly good job with historical atmosphere (although I don't think too m ...more
Katie
A good read, if a bit slow to start. I found the main character, Evie, to be a bit naïve, which is probably an accurate representation of a woman in her actual position, but was slightly grating in a protagonist. I had it figured by about halfway through the novel that (view spoiler) had committed the crime, but did not work out the motive, which came as a well crafted twist. This is the second book by Megan Chance that I have read and I was happy enough with it that I will ...more
Nora Peevy
PLOT SPOILER WARNING!

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Great gothic novel. While the book does romanticize the Victorian era in places, it also deals with the reality of crime and being gay in the Victorian era. This book had a wonderful female protagonist who went from mousy to moxy by the end of the story. There was some sex, which could have been skipped, but wasn't too nauseous to read. The setting was colorful. Who doesn't love a woman accused of murder out to prove that the Spiritualist Movement was
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Kathleen Valentine
ch coveted by fashionable people. Michel Jourdain was one of these, a dashingly handsome Creole medium/mesmerist he was quickly "acquired" by Dorothy Bennett, one of society's grande dames, who was famous for her "circles" starring her pet medium. Evie, desperate to understand her distant husband, attends a circle with him one night and the story takes off from there. A bullet is fired, chaos ensues, and Peter sends Evie home assuring her he will get to the bottom of this. What he gets to the bo ...more
KatieDMD
Hmmm I'm on a Megan Chance kick, having read City of Ash, Susannah Morrow and The Inconvenient Wife. Very interesting cast of characters in each book, however The Inconvenient Wife and The Spiritualist both feature a similar triangle of key characters: the oppressed, bored socialite, her busy, distant, disapproving husband and a mysterious yet irresistible man with ulterior motives. I rather liked Evelyn in the Spiritualist better than her counterpart Lucy in The Inconvenient Wife. I am a fan of ...more
Jenny
Sep 28, 2014 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brianna Soloski
The Spiritualist – Megan Chance

Taking place in high society New York City in 1857 The Spiritualist by Megan Chance opens at a spirit circle at the home of Mrs. Dorothy Bennett. It is the first time Evelyn Atherton is attending the gatherings her husband, Peter, is so fond of. She is, of course, skeptical, as any logical person would be. She doesn’t understand her husband’s obsession with attending the circles to call upon the spirit of his mother, but because she loves him she is willing to make
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Nancy Oakes
Evelyn Atherton is one of the lucky ones -- she comes from a lower-class home and marries a client of her investigator father, one Peter Atherton, a criminal attorney and member of a very wealthy family in 1850s New York. She is very well provided for, and has everything she wants, except for the pleasure of her husband's company -- not even time for a honeymoon. So when the opportunity arises for her to accompany her husband on an evening out, she takes it. As it turns out, he takes her to the ...more
Jan
Evelyn Atherton attends a spirit circle to apease her husband, an attorney and member of an important New York family. When a gun is "accidentally" fired during the circle, her husband is suspicious and decides to investigate. When several days pass without hearing from him, Evie's worst fears are confirmed when her husband is found murdered. Even worse, her in-laws railroad her into being arrested for the murder, even though there is really no evidence against her. Before the trial she is taken ...more
Barb
It's 1856, Evelyn Atherton's husband Peter has been murdered, unfortunately for her she is the main suspect in the crime. The Anthertons are members of the elite rich in New York City's high society, Peter by birth, Evelyn by marriage; something people have not forgotten. Evelyn soon discovers she has few true friends and once she finds herself facing formal murder charges those in high places are no longer willing to associate with her.

Before his death her husband Peter was involved in the wor
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Todd
Megan Chance’s, The Spiritualist is generally a well executed murder mystery set in pre-civil war New York. The novel is satisfying on more than one level. It’s an excellent character study as well as a meditation on the effects of modernity and the persistence of the irrational on the staid culture of high society as well as the perception of class.

The Spiritualist is also a fine atmospheric murder mystery that pits the rational and proto-feminist Evelyn Atherton, accused of murdering her soci
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Marti
In the end, I was disappointed in this book. I was excited about it early on and spent every available moment reading it but by around the middle, it kind of lost its power. At that point, I kept reading because it wasn't so bad that I wanted to give up on it but rather I wanted to just get the reading of it over so that I could go on to something I might like more. The main character, Evelyn Atherton (Evie to her friends) was a middle class young woman, the only child of an investigator and a w ...more
Linda
To office assistant Evelyn Graff, it seems like a fairy tale when the handsome Peter Atherton, one of the wealthiest bachelors in Victorian Manhattan, proposes marriage to her. She can't believe her luck when his family readily accepts her, and suffers disappointment as her husband grows neglectful of her. One evening, Evelyn reluctantly accompanies Peter to a society seance, even though she's not a believer. Three days later, his body is discovered floating in the river, and, the following week ...more
Colleen
Jul 18, 2013 Colleen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a good Mystery
Shelves: blog-books
My Take on It: The book was quite a ride. A surprisingly well written mystery, it surprised me how it was able to keep my attention despite being so long and having surprisingly few main characters. While the pace in general was quite acceptable, there were many times I looked at how many chapters I had to go and sighed. I desperately wanted to look ahead, but resisted. The passionate love stories intertwined into the murder case were compelling and Chance managed to created full-bodied flawed ...more
Heidi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda
What a surprise. Recommended to me by a Goodreads friend, I eagerly settled in, began to read and quickly realized, I already read this great tale. Perhaps it was before I became a Goodreads member or I just forgot to list it but it was an excellent book. If you're a fan of mystery, illusion, ghosts and the like you would do well to follow along with Evie as she tries solve her husband's murder. Clues come through the dead. Her in-laws turn against her. Evie must use her instincts to determine e ...more
Jill Hutchinson
I'm not sure what to think about this book......is it a mystery? Well, if it is, I had it figured out about half-way through. Is it an expose of the table rapping spiritualism so popular in the late 19th century?......at first I thought it was but that also changed about half-way through. It really doesn't fit into any genre except general fiction with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure.

A young woman marries "above her station" into a wealthy and powerful family but her husband is stran
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Karen
I read this one some time back and forgot to write a review. Of course by now I have forgotten all of the characters' names but I enjoyed the book. Set in Victorian America, the novel's main character is a woman whose husband is found murdered and who is then accused of the crime by his family, who hopes to keep her from inheriting her husband's vast fortune. Since he had gotten involved with a seance circle shortly before his death, the wife joins the circle and begins a cat and mouse game with ...more
Elizabeth K.
Oh, this was goofy. It was almost goofy enough to turn the corner and be enjoyable in a fun way (like The Alienist) but sadly, not quite. Set in 19th century New York, a young society widow accused of her husband's murder gets involved with a spiritualist group -- at first she is determined to debunk them, but eventually starts to doubt herself. The kookiest thing is that the medium leader of the group is supposed to be a French Creole, so he starts every sentence with "Oui" or "Non" and as a re ...more
Marie Sexton
The mystery aspect of this novel is quite weak. I figured out Peter's secret as well as the identity of the killer very early on. Still, I rarely read books for the "mystery" as much as for the story itself, and guessing the culprit early didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the tale. I had a hard time putting it down. I couldn't wait to see how they'd manage to clear Evelyn's name.

I didn't love the ending. As I thought back on the story in the hours after finishing, I began to realize that
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Sarah
Very enjoyable and engaging historical novel set in the mid-1800s in New York City. It is part mystery, part romance, and part supernatural, with enough of each to keep things going but not place it overwhelmingly in any one of those genres. I thought the plot was very well done, with good twists and a good ending. I plan to read more books by this author.
Kristen
Probably through the first two-thirds of this book, I found myself wondering if this was the first novel Ms. Chance wrote. It was entertaining enough, but the answers seemed so painfully obvious, the characters so very naive, it surely must have been a first novel, right? But then I got towards the last third of the book, and pretty much everything that I thought ended up not being right. Which was surprising.

It shows a nice view of Manhattan society in the 1850s. Those "upper ten" that ruled t
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. Her first book won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award for excellence in Romantic Fiction, and since then, her novels have received several awards and award nominations. The Be
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More about Megan Chance...
An Inconvenient Wife Inamorata Bone River City of Ash Susannah Morrow

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“You learned to run from what you feel, and that's why you have nightmares. To deny is to invite madness. To accept is to control.” 208 likes
“Imagine you come upon a house painted brown. What color would you say the house was?"
"Why brown, of course."
"But what if I came upon it from the other side, and found it to be white?"
"That would be absurd. Who would paint a house two colors?"
He ignored my question. "You say it's brown, and I say it's white. Who's right?"
"We're both right."
"Non," he said. "We're both wrong. The house isn't brown or white. It's both. You and I only see one side. But that doesn't mean the other side doesn't exist. To not see the whole is to not see the truth.”
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