Prophet Annie
by Ellen Recknor, historical/paranormal (2000)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-79513-2


Ho ho ha ha hee hee ha ha. I'm still giggling and trying to recover from the glorious adventure into the rocky late 19th-century Wild West. Prophet Annie is just what I need after a successive spates of Oh-good-grief-put-me-out-of-my-misery bad reads. This book is not strictly a romance, but it is a story of a feisty woman who still cracks a joke about the Almighty even when odds are stacked against her. And what a woman she is!

When the book begins, Annie is an old, old woman in the twilight of her life, but she still has a sense of humor. It's 1943. She submits a manuscript to a publisher, stating in the cover letter that this is the true account of her life as a psychic medium in traveling sideshows. It's her way of repairing the damage done by an insulting book written by a crank hand who has once met her but believed he knew everything about her, that tabloid scum.

Hence she tells her story. When she was still a young woman in her prime, her momma died and she was hoping to inherit the boardinghouse when - look! Momma had contracted Annie to wed Jonas Newcastle, never a scraggier, uglier, old man! Still, Annie goes along with it. Jonas, however, has the bad manners to die on her during their playing-doctor session.

It gets worse. Jonas refuses to stay dead. His ghost somehow finds himself in a hereafter library that chronicles every detail in the future (thanks to an "accounting mistake" in heaven). His ghost ends up sharing the same body as Annie, not a very nice thing. But now Annie has "knowledge" of the future, thanks to Jonas taking over and blabbing about things in the future, so it's not a bad trade-off.

In need of money, Annie packs her bags, and with Sam Two Trees the Newcastle chef as a companion, she joins the traveling circus circuit. Prophet Annie is born.

And Annie is one amazing woman. She sees life through wry and self-effacing humor laced with three doses of wit and sarcasm. Nothing gets her down. She makes no apologies for her past or present, and when life hands her a raw deal, she makes do. Wonderful, really. And I enjoy reading about the zany secondary characters, the colorful characters that become Annie's comrades in her career as Prophet Annie.

And Jonas, the randy old goat, still insists on carrying out funny ghost-boinks with Annie twice a week! Jonas, Jonas, that old ghost is so fun that I warm up to him almost immediately and am quite misty-eyed when he finally moves on to the hereafter.

But the best thing about Prophet Annie, aside from its strong, zany heroine and colorful characters, is its bright philosophy of life. Life can be bad, your friends may die, but life need not to be viewed that way. It's the present that counts the most, and sometimes, all we need is to laugh at ourselves.

Oh, and Annie does find love at the end. It's only an added bonus to an already inspirational, uplifting tale that has me laughing and feeling all warm and nice inside. In that few hours when I'm in Annie's world, why, yes, all my life's little nuisance fade into the periphery. So what if no one burned down my workplace and give me a nice impromptu vacation? Annie tells me it's okay, look at the funny side of life, and life do look a little rosier at the end. And she's right.

This book is a perfect read. I'm placing it right there with other books I consider classics. Touch it and die.

Rating: 97


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