The Other Side of Mrs. Wood: A Novel
For fans of The Lost Apothecary or the Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, a deliciously atmospheric historical novel about the rivalry between two female mediums during Victorian London’s obsession with Spiritualism.
Mrs. Violet Wood is London’s premier medium, a woman of supreme ambition whose unique abilities have earned her the admiration and trust of London’s elite. Mrs. Wood is indeed a clever and gifted seer—her skill is unmatched in predicting exactly what her wealthy patrons want to hear from the beyond.
But times are changing. First, a nosey newspaperman has begun working to expose false mediums across London. Many of Mrs. Wood’s friends—and, yes, some of her foes—have fallen to his merciless accusations. Worse yet, though Mrs. Wood’s monthly séance tables are still packed, she’s noticed that it’s been harder to snare coveted new patrons. There are rumors from America of mediums materializing full spirits. . . . How long will her audiences be content with quivering tables and candle theatrics?
Then, at one of Mrs Wood’s routine gatherings, she hears that most horrifying of sounds—a yawn. When a sweet girl with an uncanny talent for the craft turns up at her door, Mrs. Wood decides that a protégé will be just the thing to spice up her brand. But is Emmie Finch indeed the naïve ingenue she appears? Or has Mrs. Wood’s own downfall come knocking at last?
Praise for The Other Side of Mrs. Wood: A Novel
"I absolutely ADORED it. Such a juicy read and written so beautifully. Charming, gorgeous, an utter delight.” — Marian Keyes, author of Rachel’s Holiday
"Oh, I loved this book! Did I ever think I’d identify with a Victorian-era medium’s troubles? No! But then came The Other Side of Mrs. Wood, a delicious insider tale that charmed me with its wit, its loyalties and its betrayals. Brava, Lucy Barker. Thank you for this intriguing and so very smart journey back to London’s medium madness." — Elinor Lipman, author of Ms. Demeanor
"Intriguing, witty and unique. A must read!”
— Sophie Irwin, author of A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
"A joy to read, completely fresh and original with a wonderful cast of characters. The ending is absolutely perfect - so satisfying! The Other Side of Mrs Wood is an exhilarating gallop through the séances of Victorian London, featuring rival mediums, dark secrets and some truly delicious double-crossing. Witty, evocative writing and wonderfully drawn characters add up to a huge treat of a novel. I loved it!” — Lucy Diamond, author of The Beach Café
"Engaging and wonderfully original.” — Katie Fforde, author of One Enchanted Evening
"In Barker’s sprightly first novel, life at the séance table can be fraught with uncertainty for a woman with a carefully camouflaged past. . . . Mrs. Wood needs to spark the possibly flagging interest of her well-heeled clientele. And so she agrees to tutor lovely 16-year-old Emmeline Finch, whose fledgling talents could be an eye-catching accompaniment to Mrs. Wood’s mature expertise. [But] all too soon it is Miss Finch who is the toast of London spiritualist society, [and] Mrs. Wood faces a consequential decision: sink into 'a haze of sherry and humiliation' or give this traitorous girl her comeuppance." — New York Times Book Review
“A sly literary sleight of hand. . . . The novel is set in a sumptuous—and sometimes sumptuously ridiculous—world full of colorful characters. . . . The plot unfolds at a leisurely but satisfying pace, and a twist at the end should tickle readers.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The Other Side of Mrs. Wood is supremely witty, fun, captivating, and also poignant. Debut novelist Lucy Barker gives the inside scoop on a fascinating aspect of Victorian life, while revealing the conflicts and struggles—still relevant today—of women trying to fulfill their dreams in a sometimes hostile world.” — Lauren Belfer, author of Ashton Hall