Nichols’ literary novel examines the physical, psychological, metaphysical, and spiritual evolution of Sophia Deming, an unfulfilled 54-year-old Canadian expatriate, from the point of view of John Burns, a psychic who can remotely view the major events of her life.
Deming and Burns meet only once in the prologue to Nichols’ first novel, when Deming sits for a psychic reading from clairvoyant therapist Burns. She leaves skeptical of his predictions and returns to her life in Florida, her loving husband, and a job she is good at but increasingly dissatisfied with. By using Burns’ remote viewing as the basis for the narrative, Nichols pulls off a neat literary trick: an omniscient narrator who can delve into Deming’s thoughts as well as actions without the usual restrictions on editorial commentary. Burns can even see the auras, imps, sprites, tricksters, and ghosts surrounding Deming, allowing for well-wrought imagery that resonates through both their realities: “I could even see Ella Fitzgerald slowly emerge from the black and white poster like a smoky apparition singing a requiem for buried souls above the Kelly girls’ table,” says Burns. After various episodes of character building, Deming discovers The Antiquity, a play dedicated to her, written by the dead mother she’d always felt was closer to her two sisters. This discovery unleashes Deming’s true journey to full personhood—a path that simultaneously parallels both Burns’ predictions and the futuristic world foretold in The Antiquity. Nichols’ use of the psychic narrator generates an elegant prose style reminiscent of 19th-century writers: “The very first of these signals was the voice of a songbird whose whistles accompanied me during a walk on a summer afternoon near Wood Island.” Ultimately, the author adroitly guides Deming’s character toward an ending that satisfies on multiple levels.
Well-written and compelling; will appeal to both fans of the paranormal and serious students of the human condition.