The Reluctant Psychic


So I've been indulging my woo-woo streak a bit lately -- I've got completely sucked into a podcast called Uncanny, which is basically people telling stories about their paranormal experiences, living in haunted houses etc, which I find absolutely compelling! I'm also an occasional tarot card reader and I like to keep an open mind (hopefully not so open that my brains fall out).

Thus I found hard to resist The Reluctant Psychic, a memoir by Suzan Saxman with the help of ghost writer (ha ha) Perdita Finn. It's hard to know how much salt to take with this book, but Saxman's anecdotes about 'seeing' hidden information about people who consult her certainly sound convincing. There is a spooky narrative threaded through about her obsession with troubled English actor Jack Wild, with whom she felt a mysterious bond; and it turns out (spoiler alert) that it's just possible they were half-siblings. Saxman's timelines are fuzzy at times and she can be vague on some details, while being super precise on others.

The stream of people seeking help and enlightenment from her weirdly echoed the stream of people seeking help from Agnes, the protagonist in Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet, which I was reading at the same time. And there was one observation that rang strangely true: Saxman surmises that Marion Zimmer Bradley 'channelled' her most successful novel, The Mists of Avalon; and I have to agree with Saxman that nothing else Bradley ever wrote matched that novel for emotional heft, convincing detail or quality of writing. Strange but true.

I'm calling this book non-fiction, but who knows!

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