Fr. 21.50

The Magnetic Girl - A Novel

English · Paperback / Softback

Will be released 08.09.2020


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For fans of Emma Donoghue and Alexander Chee, The Magnetic Girl is set at a time when the emerging presence of electricity raised suspicions about the other-worldly gospel of Spiritualism, and when women's desire for political, cultural, and sexual presence electrified the country.

About the author

Jessica Handler is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Invisible Sisters: A Memoir, which was named one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read” and Atlanta magazine’s “Best Memoir of 2009.” Jessica writes essays and nonfiction features that have appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, Full Grown People, Brevity, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and More Magazine. 


Winner of the 2020 Southern Book Prize
Indie Next Pick, April 2019
One of the Atlanta Journal Constitution's "South's 10 best books of 2019"
Finalist for the Townsend Prize Books All Georgians Should Read from the Georgia Center for the Book
One of the Wall Street Journal's Spring Picks for books
Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

In this gorgeously envisioned debut, set as the emergence of electricity and women’s desire for political, cultural, and sexual power electrified the country, a young woman’s rise to Vaudeville fame exposes secrets of her family’s past—and the keys to her own future. 

In rural north Georgia two decades after the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Lulu Hurst discovers an obscure book by legendary Mesmerist Henrietta Wolf on her father’s shelf. After Lulu uses Wolf’s wisdom to convince a cousin she can conduct electricity with her touch, her father sees an opportunity.

Her father’s lessons transform Lulu, once deemed gangly and indelicate, into an electrifying new woman: The Magnetic Girl, captivating enthusiastic crowds by lifting grown men in parlor chairs, throwing them across the stage with her “electrical charge.”  As her notoriety grows, Lulu harbors a secret belief that she can use the power of Mesmerism to heal her disabled baby brother, Leo, with whom she shares a profound and supernatural mental connection. To help him, she delves into the mysterious book’s pages, determined to harness Wolf’s teachings and convince herself, and the world, that her gifts are authentic. But will they be enough to heal her family?

Based on true events, this award-winning novel is a unique portrait of a forgotten period in history, seen through the story of one young woman’s power over her family, her community, and ultimately, herself.


  • Extensive ARC Outreach

  • eGalleys available on Edelweiss

  • Southeastern Tour Including Major Southern Bookstores / Book fests

  • Major review coverage

  • National media campaign including print and radio interviews

  • Pre-publication buzz campaign with giveaways on Goodreads

  • IndieBound bookseller outreach campaign

  • Social Media Advertising including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Goodreads

  • Pitching women-centric bookclubs: Belletrist, Book of the Month, The Wing’s book club, The Lily's book club, and more.

  • Promotion through the Cold Mountain Fund Book Series including limited events with Series funder Charles Frazier.

  • Author website:

    Additional text

    Winner of the 2020 Southern Book Prize
    Indie Next Pick, April 2019
    One of the Atlanta Journal Constitution's "South's 10 best books of 2019"
    Finalist for the Townsend Prize Books All Georgians Should Read from the Georgia Center for the Book
    One of the Wall Street Journal's Spring Picks for books
    Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

     "Handler captures the ambivalence of female adolescence, where the newfound ability to captivate others exists in unsteady balance with the fear of loss of independence. A thoroughly fresh historical novel that both captures the essence of its time and echoes challenges that still exist today."Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

    "This is a story that gets at the core of what it’s like to be alive, honing in on modern day feminist anxieties through the lens of a distant time when electricity was glamorous instead of merely a technological afterthought. Handler provides a touching look at how human desire doesn’t always equal what is right, and the result is an astonishing tale that does not pander or falter, but crackles with magic."The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    "Author Jessica Handler paints a quaint picture of life in the late 19th century, when electricity was a new phenomenon. Lulu begins as a young woman used to obeying her parents, but through her performances, she begins to see her parents and their shortcomings more clearly. The Magnetic Girl is hypnotic tale about a girl growing into a woman and discovering the truth of her own powers."BookPage

    “Lulu’s is a story on the precipice: of scientific discovery, of cultural evolution, and of increased autonomy for women. As a daughter of this dawning new world, Lulu captivates her way toward dismaying realizations, deadly conundrums, and new freedoms. Beyond its sleight of hand, The Magnetic Girl is a vintage tale about learning to harness your singular powers.”Foreword Reviews "Like the powers of Lulu Hurst, Jessica Handler's literary power feels like a sleight of hand. It's impossible that a novel can be this beautiful, this haunting, and this resonant, but your eyes (and your heart) are not deceiving you. The Magnetic Girl is a gorgeous, brutal book: a strange alchemy of love, fear, fate, and hope."—Wiley Cash, New York Times Bestselling author of The Last Ballad

    "Jessica Handler brings history to glorious life in a captivating tale anchored by masterful writing, especially the vivid, unique voice she gives to Lulu Hurst. With deft pacing that kept me turning pages long into the night, Handler lights up Lulu’s fascinating trajectory into a strange kind of stardom and beyond. The world sees Lulu, a natural mesmerist, as a person with mystical talents, but at its heart, this is the story of a young woman stepping boldly and at last into her true powers. The Magnetic Girl is something special. Don’t miss it."—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters

    “The Magnetic Girl is a compassionate, clear-eyed coming-of-age tale unlike anything I’ve read. The story belongs to Lulu Hurst, but Handler is the one doing the true mesmerizing. What a unique, accomplished debut!”—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times Bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

    “A heartwarming tale of the sacrifices we make for family, the delusions we fall for in the name of love, and the human need to keep on dreaming despite it all. Mesmerizing.”—Thomas Mullen, author of Darktown

Product details

Authors Jessica Handler
Publisher Ingram Publishers Services
Languages English
Product format Paperback / Softback
Release 08.09.2020, delayed
EAN 9781938235740
ISBN 978-1-938235-74-0
No. of pages 296
Series Cold Mountain Fund Series
Cold Mountain Fund
Subjects Fiction > Narrative literature

FICTION / Coming of Age, FICTION / Literary, FICTION / Thrillers / Historical, FICTION / Southern

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