Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
Marcus is eleven when his mother died. He lived in foster care a short time before going to live with his great-aunt in South Carolina. Aunt Charlotte is an accomplished painter, and a reclusive woman. She is the one who tells Marcus about Grief Cottage….on the far end of the island.
A boy and his parents disappeared in the cottage during a hurricane, fifty years ago. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has been empty ever since.
There has been no talk of it being haunted, but being left pretty much on his own by his aunt, Marcus is the first person the ghost of the cottage has revealed himself to.
After Aunt Charlotte injures herself and may never be able to paint again, Marcus finds himself in sort of a courtship with the ghost boy. He is both intrigued by and terrifyed by him, and wants to find out what happened to him, and his parents, who nobody seems to even remember the names of.
What I thought of Grief Cottage
Grief Cottage is Book 5/60 in my attempt to read 60 books this year.
It is not a typical haunting story. No things going bump in the night. While Marcus has no doubt the ghost boy is real, as a reader I’m not sure I’m convinced.
Marcus is himself a haunted child. Haunted by his past, more afraid of his present than he wants to admit, thinking a little of the future yet to come. As he unpacks his belongings from his previous life, and relives the memories they stir in him the ghost becomes more solid. I think it might be a solidification of his own uncertainties, since he really has no physical person that he feels he can reach out to.
Meanwhile, its a rough coming of age story, a finding of a surrogate mother, a desperate need of a father figure, and a fear of disappearing entirely manifested in acts of trying to find the identities of the nameless family.
This was a rough and emotional book, which can be taken at face value as a ghost story, or something deeper.
If you read Grief Cottage I would love to know what you think. Is the ghost real, or not?
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