Book Review: The Magnetic Girl

“People want miracles. They want the promise that someone is enlightened or gifted enough to reach past the limits of the every day.”

Based on the real life of Lulu Hurst, the Georgia Wonder, “The Magnetic Girl” follows the fictional Lulu Hurst. The 1880’s were a time of religious revival, spiritualist, mesmerists, magnetist and spiritual grifters. The bloody Civil War’s path of human destruction and loss reached beyond the surrender. People wanted comfort; a reason to explain and cure pain and suffering. Pure and simple people wanted something to believe in that was greater than themselves.

“You’ve already seen for yourself how ready folks are for humbug if they don’t recognize what’s happening to them.”

In rural Georgia in the 1880’s, Lulu begins to “captivate” those around her by controlling their thoughts and actions for brief moments. After Lulu convinces her cousin that she conducts electricity with her touch, her father sees a chance for opportunity. The tour of Opera Houses begins. Deep in her core, Lulu believes in her power.

I was amazed by Jessica Handler’s creativity and research to create a complex and fascinating book. I searched out every interview of Handler and review of the book that I could find. This is a filling read, a book that commands that you read each word.  This book was published through Charles Frazier’s The Cold Mountain Fund. I am glad to see important work that may not capture wide attention being published and supported.

“Your average person, if he figures out he’s been humbugged, won’t make a peep about it because he doesn’t want to admit he’s guilty of falling for the humbug.”

Humbug, gas lighting and grifting are alive and well in modern time. This time the leaders are not in Opera Houses but in the news, spreading fake news, in Russian bot farms or hawking a version of the Law of Attraction on Instagram.

Maybe Lulu’s father was right. People just want to be humbugged.


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