Shadows and Elephants by Edward Hower

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Synopsis

"Edward Hower is a writer of talent and substance."-William Kennedy

Spiritualism, the conviction that the dead are able to contact living people from an afterworld, became popular in America after the Civil War, when grief-stricken survivors tried to contact the fallen. In an era of breakaway churches and rampant industrialization, ordinary people sought desperately to prove to themselves they possessed immortal souls. Spiritualism was also one of the few venues that offered women a chance to lead.

One such woman was Madame Helena Blavatsky, a Russian-born mystic who used her considerable intellectual gifts to rise to the top of the spiritualist hierarchy. Together with her partner, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a popular journalist and Civil War hero, she attracted many of the leading celebrities of the age, such as Thomas Edison and Abner Doubleday in New York; and in London, W.B. Yeats, and the young Mohandas P. Gandhi. But, hounded by the press and subjected to scathing ridicule, they moved from the parlors of Gilded Age New York to the slums of Bombay then again to Ceylon, attempting to spread their ideas.

Loosely based on the lives of Blavatsky and Olcott, Shadows and Elephants follows two unforgettable fictional creations, passionate in their friendship, courageous in the face of public humiliation, and devoted absolutely to contacting the souls of the deceased in order to learn from their wisdom. Shadows and Elephants is a sensuous historical novel with totally contemporary resonance, for indeed, spiritualism has survived for over 130 years; reshaped in today's eclectic New Age beliefs.

Edward Hower is the author of four previous novels. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian; his reviews in the nation's most prestigious book pages. He has been awarded numerous creative writing grants. He lives in Ithaca, NY.

 

About Edward Hower

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Edward Hower is the author of four previous novels. His writing has appeared in "The New York Times", "The Atlantic Monthly", "Southern Review", "Epoch", "Transatlantic Review", "Smithsonian"; his reviews in the nation's most prestigious book pages. He has been awarded numerous writing grants. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his wife, the novelist Alison Lurie & teaches at Cornell & Ithaca College.
 
Published January 1, 2001 by Leapfrog Press. 250 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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When the fervor surrounding them is squelched by colonial power, they move south to Ceylon, where Blackburn works a series of miracle cures and is hailed as a great holy man .

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Publishers Weekly

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Milanova's sexual hangups prevent them from consummating their affair, but the two become friends based on attraction and a deep spiritual bond that sends them off to India after they form a spiritual society together.

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