Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Good and Creepy

I finished reading The Ghost Writer by John Harwood last night. What a fun book this was! From the very beginning the book had a certain eerie, something isn't quite right atmosphere to it. At the center of the story is Gerard, first as a boy and then as an adult, completely innocent as to what is really going on. And why should he think something odd? His mother is a little looney and the only thing he has to hold onto, his only friend, is Alice, a penfriend who lives somewhere in Sussex. Unlike most penfriend relationships, however, this one does not die as the two grow older but becomes more and more intimate. Between caring for his mother who demands that he be home by dark everyday, and writing to Alice, Gerard manages to go to university and become a librarian. He has no social life, does not date other women, and his co-workers are convinced he is gay and just hasn't realized it yet. Raised on his mother's euphoric stories of her childhood home of Staplefield in England, and his romantic feelings for Alice, Gerard wants nothing more than to leave behind the dry heat of Australia for the cool damp of England. When he finally manages to get there, events do not turn out as planned. About that I will say nothing else so as not to spoil anything for someone who has not read the book. I loved the gothic feeling of this book. One of my favorite parts of the book is the various stories within the story. The stories are all of a supernatural bent and delightfully spooky. The spookiness of the stories helps intensify the uneasy feelings that the main story generates until both come crashing together at the end. Since I am a horror wimp, I was worried about having bad dreams after I finished but I am happy to say that my sleep was untroubled. This does not mean the books wasn't scary, it definitely gave me chills, but there was enough specificity to the events of the story that my imagination did not take hold of it enough to create a gothic horror story starring me. So if you, too, are a horror story wimp, this book is okay to read. Another note for potential readers of this book. The ending is left wide open, there is no nice and tidy closure. I loved the inconclusive end, but if you are someone who needs to know what exactly happened, you will not be satisfied here. For everyone else, if you have not read the book and are looking for a light read and a few goose bumps, this is one you will enjoy.