The Ghost Writer
- Publication Date:
- 07 April 2005
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-4 out of 15 reviews. Previous | Next
This is a wonderful atmospheric book, reminiscent of Victorian/Gothic ghost stories. It's the story of Gerard Freeman, who grew up in Australia being told stories by his mother of her girlhood at a house called Staplefield in England. After his mother dies, he begins to start unraveling the maze of her girlhood in England and what happened in that old rambling house. We're also treated to stories written by Gerard's great-grandmother, Violet. Wonderful Victorian ghost stories. I adore stories within a story, so that was much fun for me. The book also brought back the dreams I had as a little girl--the daydream/wish that someday I'd find I inherited an old house in England, complete with ghosts. I alway did have an odd imagination. What really shocked me about this book, though, was the fact that I wasn't trying to figure out the whodunnit bits--I was so wrapped up in the atmosphere of the book that I just didn't care. I didn't want to know until the end.
I love this new modern gothic trend. An amazing read and a fantastic talent. I only wish Harwood had some other titles available.
Fabulous! I loved this book. I could not stop reading and I spent the bulk of a Sunday afternoon and evening reading it straight through when I should have been working in the yard. Young Gerard Freeman grows up in a small Australian town but he is obsessed with learning more about his English mother's childhood in England. She is secretive and fearful, haunted by the recollection of some terrible event or crime. Gerard's other obsession is his mysterious penpal in England. Gerard does of course go to England to confront these demons. His story is suspended from time to time with his grandmother's ghost stories as he discovers them but there are strange parallels which build throughout the book between the stories and life which lead to the final horrifying conclusion. The pacing and plot are perfect and this book is extremely well written.
There is a small cadre of recent novelists whose debuts were so spectacular that I await their second (and third, etc.) books with great expectations. Zafon is one of them. John Harwood is another. This was meant to be a review of his second novel, The Seance, recently released. I read The Seance and was happy with it but then felt compelled to reread The Ghost Writer, his first. I was only two chapters back into Ghost Writer when I realized The Seance did not live up to its promise. One of my tests for a good story is if I have trouble setting the book aside. I can't do it with Ghost Writer but I had no trouble with Seance.Both books deal with the occult to some extent. The Seance obviously involves a seance - actually there are several of them in the story. The title seance is the one that didn't actually happen. It is set at the end of the Victorian era and feels quite authentic in setting, mores and science. It is a good novel. The Ghost Writer is a far better one. Harwood's debut is the story of Gerard Freeman, at the beginning of the story a 13 year old boy living in a small Australian town. Gerard has grown up listening to his mother's stories of her childhood in England. After a major transgression of Gerard's she stops talking of England and Gerard is afraid to bring it up. His childhood is overshadowed by his mother's overwhelming concern for his safety which makes him a lonely child.Gerard receives a missive from a penfriend charity asking if he would like one and he agrees. Upon noting the first letter, Gerard's mother insists she have it and, until the intervention of his father, it looks like his friendship will be nipped in the bud. But it isn't. In fact it continues for twenty years. His writing friend is a girl named Alice, about his age, who is confined to a wheelchair. As the years pass and Gerard begs for a meeting Alice puts him off with the hope that she will meet him only when she can walk again.During those years Gerard comes across several ghost stories written by his great-grandmother Viola. These stories stand alone as excellent examples of the genre but they have a relationship to the larger story as well. His mother tells him shortly before her death that one of them came true. After her death Gerard decides it is time to go to England and find Alice. Surprisingly Alice is at that time being operated on by a famous neurosurgeon and expects positive results.Prior to his arrival in England he had begun a brief correspondence with Abigail Hamish a good friend of his mother's missing sister, Anne. She leaves him the keys to the family house and disappears with a stroke into a convalescent home. A lot of research begins to unravel the threads of the multiple stories Gerard is chasing and he finds the last installment of Viola's prophetic story. He also discovers all the horrors that lie in his family history and the book culminates in a very cinematic last scene of biblical revenge. With nods to Henry James and Charles Dickens Harwood has woven a tale within a tale within a tale and done it with consummate skill. The Ghost Writer is a very spooky story. Read it with all the lights on.
Reviews provided by Librarything.
No reviews here.