Charlatan is Catherine Jinks’ account of Thomas Guthrie Carr who was charged by Eliza Gray with mesmerising and then raping her while she was under his influence. But if mesmerism and Mr Carr were shams, was Eliza really raped?
With a driving narrative and novelistic pacing, this scrupulously researched account of the life of Thomas Guthrie Carr, stage mesmerist – who lied, fought and sleazed his way around Australia and New Zealand between 1865 and 1886 – is more than just a fascinating piece of social history. It’s also a mystery, a true crime story and a slyly humorous portrait of a man whose ferocious pursuit of fame and fortune made him an oddly contemporary figure.
With a supporting cast that includes the Duke of Edinburgh, the Mad Dentist of Wynyard, the Nunawading Messiah and a host of shady mesmerists, spiritualists, phrenologists and hired goons, Charlatan delves deeply into a forgotten side of colonial history.