Not really a ghost story, but a there is no such thing as a ghost story. Set in London and Cambridge in the late 1700’s, The Anatomy of Ghosts tells the story of one man who, because of a personal tragedy, accepts a job to help a young gentleman at Jerusalem College conquer the ghost who is driving him mad. I liked this book, full of surprises.
A teenage girl dies and her boyfriend is wounded in a suicide pact gone wrong. The two families involved are longtime friends and in the aftermath their relationship comes apart at the seams. Through flashbacks Jodi Picoult tells the story of these two families and how they ended up experiencing this tragedy. If you like Jodi Picoult, you will like this book. I couldn’t put it down.
This book is really hard to describe. It is set in England in the early nineties and is about a strange family that lives in an estate by the sea – the main character is a seemingly semi-dotty Thomas who is 48 and still occupying the nursery room. He is living with his cousin, Esmond, who is taking care of him since his mother died. The story goes back and forth from the past and the present and follows the connection these cousins have with each other. I really liked it, but I would call it a “haunting tale” that leaves you with a little bit a chill by the end.
This is the first book I have read by Lee Childs and it was pretty good. Set in a small southern town, a drifter gets picked up for murder. But this is no ordinary drifter, he is an ex-army officer who starts working on the case to clear his name but then stays with it for different reasons. There is something strange about this little town, it’s too clean, too perfect, and it all ties in to the mysterious corporation that is the main beneficiary.
Written in 1945 but set right before World War II, Above Suspicion follows a young English married couple who are recruited by a friend to go on holiday in Germany and do a little spy mission. They have to follow a communication route and find the break and hopefully the agent that is missing. Because they are above suspicion they do well on their quest and seem to be a regular couple traveling before the war breaks out, but of course nothing can be that easy and the suspense mounts. I loved this book, it was interesting to get a view of the relationship between England and Germany on the eve of war. It was a quick but suspenseful read.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
(Vintage Books, 2006, 287 pages)
McCarthy’s The Road is worth the read. The story of father and son in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is devoid of the cliché that you might expect. Instead, it follows a vivid and relentless depiction of the struggle of a man facing a new reality against the alluring temptation of what was, and the intensity of his bond with his child. The narration of this experience parallels the world being depicted, with the sparse, stream-of-consciousness dialogue and thought being inconsistently punctuated like the broken world that their owner exists in. The text carries you irresistibly and with investment towards the book’s end, and as a whole provides an introspective and cathartic experience.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
(Ballantine Books, 2011, 322 pages)
Victoria has lived something of a rough life. She’s grown up in and out of foster care and group homes after she was abandoned by her mother as an infant. Now 18, she has been emancipated from the system and must find a way to survive on her own. There is one brief spark of light when Victoria reflects back on her life, and that was when she was taken in as a foster child by a woman named Elizabeth. Elizabeth lived on a vineyard and one of the things she taught Victoria while they lived together was that there is a language of flowers. Each flower means something and can be used to convey that feeling/emotion when the flowers are bestowed upon another. Victoria held on to this language – in spite of the transitory nature of her life, this knowledge and appreciation of flowers is something she has always been able to cling to.
Forced to live on the street after her emancipation, Victoria is eventually taken under the wing of a local florist. This relationship surprisingly leads her to a connection to her past and the life she shared with Elizabeth. The novel moves back and forth from the present day to the past when Victoria experienced the closest thing to a family with Elizabeth. Mistakes were made and her life was changed because of it… Now Victoria has to figure out if she can try to move forward, or if she will continue to be haunted by the past that caused her to lose any real chance at having a family.
I really enjoyed reading this novel. The story was engaging and it really got me interested in learning the language of flowers. The only “issue” I had with the book is that I felt the protagonist should have been a little older. The way she reacted to certain situations and handled herself seemed beyond her 18 years. Granted, that would have changed the story’s outline, but I think it would have been truer to the character if she’d started out around 21 or so. Anyway, great read – I definitely recommend it!