Jennifer Wardrip's Reviews > Distant Waves

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn
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's review
Apr 28, 2009

it was amazing
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Reviewed by Amber Gibson for

What would you do if you had foreseen the sinking of the Titanic?

DISTANT WAVES is one of many re-tellings of the mysterious happenings surrounding the greatest shipwreck of all time, but Suzanne Weyn's version stands out with its breadth of historical research and, most importantly, with its allusions to the paranormal.

Maude Oneida Taylor is a famed psychic, one of the most respected clairvoyants in Spirit Vale, a small liberal town teeming with spiritualists and feminists. Mrs. Taylor's five daughters grow up in rather unusual circumstances, and none of them are typical American girls.

Mimi, the oldest, is stunningly beautiful, leaving home to pursue a more luxurious lifestyle and travel through Europe, though she can never truly escape her heritage. Jane, a budding journalist, is the most logical of the bunch, and the story is told through her perspective. Emma and Amelie, twins, seem to have inherited some of their mother's powers. Blythe, the youngest of the group, is completely mesmerized by the power that accompanies fame and fortune.

Growing up in Spirit Vale, the Taylor girls have seen so many clairvoyants, some who perhaps really have the gift and others who are clearly frauds. Jane has even seen her mother cheat, scribbling her own messages during "automatic writing" that are supposedly from loved ones that have passed on. There have been times though, when even Jane's jaded self doesn't know what to believe, such as during her sister Amelie's dangerous sleepwalking episodes.

Jane's life is influenced greatly by the ideas and attitudes of physicist Nikola Tesla. After a chance meeting in a man-made earthquake in New York City when she was only four, she has followed his career carefully, regarding him as a father-figure of sorts. Tesla's manipulation of electricity and inventive mind are incredible, only eclipsed by his generosity and lack of capitalist greed. Though Jane admires Tesla, it is his handsome assistant, Thad, who captures her heart.

As the Titanic sets sail from London, all five sisters find themselves on board, despite multiple predictions of its sinking. Sailing toward what might very well be their demise, Jane and her sisters must hope that somebody or something is out there watching out for them.

Weyn clearly understands the time period thoroughly, though occasionally the incorporation of facts seems slightly forced and almost weighs the story down. Readers do gain a wealth of knowledge, including little-known trivia about many celebrities of the era.

This book is a must-read for anyone who remembers Leonardo DiCaprio's "I'm king of the world!" line from the movie, or for anyone who has ever entertained the idea that maybe clairvoyancy isn't so far-fetched after all.

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