Books: Ghost Stories

THE SPIRITUALISTS by Ruth Brandon Knopf; 315 pages; $16.95

Mrs. Guppy, Leah Fish, the Fox sisters, Malcolm Bird—the cast seems to have tumbled from Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. But the people were real, and their adventures are far more peculiar than any mere fable of talking animals and irate farmers.

In The Spiritualists, British Journalist Ruth Brandon takes a narrow-eyed view of an obsession that haunted 19th and early 20th century life. As she cannily observes, Darwin's legacy of doubt had weakened the moral underpinnings of Victorian and American society. But...

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