A Message from Mimi Matthews
The Siren of Sussex contains a subplot about the Victorian spiritualist movement. Spiritualism was an enormous fad during the mid- to late 19th century, both in Europe and America. It attracted people from every social class. Even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were known to participate in seances.
I’ve written about spiritualism in the past, mainly examining the criminal and predatory aspects of it. You can read my article at The Victorian Web. There are additional links there to other scholarly articles that elaborate on the pervasiveness of the Victorian spiritualist movement.
Why did I include a plot thread about it in Siren? In my novels, I write about real history. It doesn’t mean I endorse the beliefs or practices; it simply means they were a historical fact. In Siren’s case, the spiritualism plot thread served two very particular purposes (both directly related to class crossing):
- It allowed me to engineer a once-in-a-lifetime royal business opportunity for the hero, Ahmad Malik, in an authentic and historically accurate way;
- The eccentricity of the spiritualists and the functions they hosted permitted a certain level of equality in association between classes that wouldn’t have existed at traditional Victorian functions. This allowed Ahmad (a half-Indian tradesman) and Evelyn (a gentleman’s daughter) to interact more freely than they otherwise might have done.
I hope this gives you a little insight into why the spiritualist movement is referenced in my story.