It began on a train, heading north through England, although I was soon to discover that the story had really begun more than a hundred years earlier.
The Prestige is a book that covers three different generations of two families, told by a number of different narrators, all in the first person, as they tell their stories in their diaries. Those of you who have seen the film version will be aware that the prestige of the title is the payoff to a magic trick. What you might not know is that this term was invented by Priest but has since come into common usage among practising magicians.
23 March 1875
Today is my birthday, and I have received the greatest gift of all – freedom! I make these first poor scribblings aboard the westbound Union Pacific train with departed Union Station Chicago at 6.35 a.m. this morning, bound for Nebraska Territory.
In 1854 a Cheyenne chief asked the United States government for one thousand white brides to marry into the people. Cheyenne society was a matrilineal society the resulting children, to their minds, would belong to white society. Yet they would also have an understanding of Cheyenne ways, and so it seemed a good way of joining white man’s society. Of course this didn’t go down to well in the white man’s world, and the offer was refused.
In this novel Fergus imagines what would have happened had the US govt decided to go along with this Cheyenne idea. In secret, of course.