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Monday, May 15, 2017

Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief Cottage is a remarkable novel that combines a ghost story and a coming of age story with skillful plotting and impressive prose. It is so easy to fall in love with eleven-year-old Marcus, to feel his sense of loss after his mother's death and his apprehension at being sent to live with his reclusive great aunt on  South Carolina island.  He worries about being a burden to his reclusive Aunt Charlotte, about being sent away.  

Grief Cottage, so named after a hurricane swept away a family 50 years ago, lies at one end of the island and Aunt Charlotte's paintings of the ruin are her most popular.  To fill his hours while Charlotte paints in seclusion, Marcus visits Grief Cottage daily.  When the ghost of a fourteen-year-old boy reveals himself, Marcus is unsure if the boy is friend or foe, but his fascination grows.

The characters are all rich and unique, and the story unwinds slowly with beautiful details of the island and its inhabitants, Marcus' fascination with the sea turtle nest and the anticipation of the "boil"--when the eggs hatch and exit the sand to make their run for the ocean, and the ghost boy in Grief Cottage.

His attempts to court the ghost boy are not always successful, but his curiosity increases:
"I wished I knew if he could think about me when I was not there, as I was thinking about him.  I didn't know whether ghosts could keep track of what was going on in the living world, imagine what could be happening, or be likely to happen, by comparing with what had gone before.  Or were they like animals in not being able to project or imagine the future?
It struck me that he might need me to keep faith that he was still there.
I imagine that this novel will be one of my year's favorites.  Highly recommended!
From Description:  Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.
Read in January; blog post scheduled for May 15


Literary Fiction/Ghost Story.  June 6, 2017.  Print length:  336 pages.


  1. Beaches, sea turtles and ghosts, oh my! Sounds like a must-read book for me. I love a good ghost story, and that setting! Count me in on this one. :)

    1. Gail Godwin was a new author for me, but I liked Grief Cottage for so many reasons and will be looking for more by her!

  2. Couldn't resist a ghost story and a coming-of-age story! Will definitely check this out.

  3. Oh this sounds good! I've read a couple of Godwin's books and have found them so readable. Looking forward to this one.

  4. I used to be a tremendous fan of Gail Godwin, but I haven't read anything by her in many years. Another one for my list!