In late 19th-century New York, sixteen-year old Lucy and her father make their living through Spiritualism, with Lucy playing the role of the medium. It is not much of a living, but preying on the rich and gullible keeps them from poverty, and Lucy has the patter down pat.
"She shut her eyes and went back into her trance routine. She threw in a few moans to cover the rumbling of her empty stomach.
"Is anyone there who wold like to make contact?" she called out. "Spirits! Speak to me!"
"Help me," a voice replied.
Lucy sat bolt upright in her chair, her skin suddenly cold with shock.
"Help me," the voice repeated. A voice not her own. A girl's voice, a voice that didn't belong to anyone in the room. "Why won't anyone help me?"
At first, it is this "spirit" who helps Lucy. Lucy's predictions, based on the knowledge of the future that it shares with her, bring in more money than she and her father have ever made before, and the attentions of a rich, young man...
Gradually, Lucy begins to understand that this voice is not a ghostly spirit. Somehow, she has heard Lindsay, a modern New York girl, desperate for help. Her alcoholic mother and violent step-father are making Lindsay's life intolerable, and things are about to get worse for her. Although contact with Lindsay has improved Lucy's life, hearing voices lands Lindsay a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
When the girls realize that they have forged a bond across time, Lucy in the past begins to see what she must do to help Lindsay, while learning how best to live her own life.
Timeslip-wise, there was one thing I found strange. The girls are able to hear each other when they are in the same physical place, which is fine. But then newspapers from the present slip backwards into the past, inexplicably...
I found Lindsay's life in the present--her problems, her actions with regard to Lucy--fascinating. Lucy's side of things I found less believable, as she didn't seem to know all that much about life in her own time and place. Lucy was made even less convincing at times when the author seemed to use her as an audience for instructional digressions into life for poor women in the nineteenth-century. I don't mind in the least historical fiction that instructs, but it is tricky, I think, to slip the instruction in so subtly that it does not distract.
Still, an enjoyable read.
This is my 21st Timeslip Tuesday review! I'm happy to link to any other timeslip reviews, so let me know...