At the dawn of modern psychiatry, two doctors make an astonishing discovery that will alter the course of medical history in this powerful novel of a time when the self was still a mystery, and magic was real.
In 1898, Hamlin, Missouri, known as the Lourdes of the Plains, draws in health-seekers from all over America. Some say the state asylum is to blame, as if the mind-cure fever that has the town in its grip were contagious. Private asylums have sprung up all over town, and business at the Higgs and Price Sanatorium is booming.
But the tidy lives of the two young doctors are turned upside down by the arrival of Clara, a trance-speaker from the dime museum. She has escaped from the asylum, and now she seems to have several people inside of her, fighting for control. In order to restore Clara to wholeness, the doctors join forces with the ladies of the Circle, a group of suffragists and mediums.
Time is running short, though. In town, a war is raging between rival mind-cure factions. Someone is rounding up the women of the Circle and committing them to the asylum. Higgs and Price are determined to put a stop to it.
Based on real events, Charani’s Gift is the story of one remarkable young woman’s inner strength, reimagining the western frontier as the borderland between science and magic.