It’s not that aging 1920s industrialist Bennett Chapman of Newport is haunted by ghosts, like the Cosmo Topper of Thorne Smith’s Topper novels (which led to the Topper movies and TV series). No, Newport’s Mr. Chapman isn’t haunted at all—he needs a medium to reach his late wife. The intercessor is Amy, the niece of the woman whom Mr. Chapman wants to make his second wife, over the objection of his grown son Nicholas and daughter Chloe, who see their inheritance slipping away when their father calls them home to his Newport, Rhode Island mansion, along with his personal attorney, Adrian de la Noye. Adrian brings his young law associate, Jim. Let the séances begin.
I didn’t have to believe in ghosts to enjoy Topper, nor did I need to believe in the occult to savor Newport. I only needed to let myself be transported to an era when séances were in vogue. (Read about the 1920s occult explosion at steampunkopera.wordpress.com.)
Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, says Newport is “everything you need for literary escape…A delicious plunge into the gilded lives and mansions of another era, Newport sends you swimming through an intricate mystery involving money, tragedy, bittersweet love affairs, and voices from beyond, until you arrive at the whirlwind ending.” I couldn’t agree more.
Photo above, Atlantic House, Newport, R.I, by Soule, John P., 1827-1904, below, Baileys Beach, by E. & H.T. Anthony (Firm), both from the New York Public Library Stereoscopic Views of Newport, RI, here via Wikimedia Commons.
Read author Jill Morrow’s post about Thorne Smith’s Topper on latelastnightbooks.com. Photo, below, of Roland Young as Topper in the 1941 film Topper Returns reproduced here from the Roland Young Wikipedia page, photographer not identified.