Patsy Ash, known as Madame Galina, discovered her supernatural abilities as a young teen, after her beloved older brother Wilson ran away from home, never to be seen again. Patsy grieved, imagining seeing him around every corner. When a scraggly peacock showed up near her home, Patsy adopted it, and her life changed. The creature became attached, crying for her attention, and simulaneously Patsy began having glorious, prophetic dreams, dare she call them visions? Thus began a career as a medium, leading her to move, daughter Naomi in tow, to Train Line, New York, a tiny town owned by the Church of Spiritualist Studies. Naomi, a heavy and unappealing youngster, grows up with seances, levitations and psychic faires. While the practitioners in Train Line believe in the spiritual phenomenon they espouse, they are dependent on the summer tourist trade, and all recognize the value of theatrics. Indeed, both medium and seeker are served by a certain degree of pretense. The bereaved, desperate for hope, and is comforted even if the contact with the dead spouse is dubious. Naomi knows the tricks, and jumps into the role of medium until actually comes to feel the role. And somehow, she has ended up in bed with her dead lover whom she wraps in a tarp and buries under cover of night.
The most skeptical of readers can enjoy the shenanigans in Train Line and the skillful depiction of Naomi, a woman on the edge of society, among people on the edge of the living. "There is no death," is the mantra of the medium. The thought that the death are here among us may ease our longings, but may also create our nightmares.
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