The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer

3.38 (4,431 ratings by Goodreads)
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A tantalizing tale of suspense and family secrets that weaves Victorian ghost stories into the present--where they start to come true

Timid, solitary librarian Gerard Freeman lives for just two things: his elusive pen pal Alice and a story he found hidden in his mother's drawer years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at his mother's role in a sinister crime. And as he discovers more of Viola's chilling tales, he realizes that they might hold the key to finding Alice and unveiling his family's mystery--or will they bring him the untimely death they seem to foretell?

Harwood's astonishing, assured debut shows us just how dangerous family skeletons--and stories--can be.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 369 pages
  • 132.1 x 200.7 x 25.4mm | 340.2g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0156032325
  • 9780156032322
  • 640,615

Flap copy

"A tantalizing tale of family secrets hidden in spine-tingling ghost stories -- that have started to come true "
Growing up in a small Australian town, Gerard Freeman loves to hear his mother talk about her idyllic childhood in an English country manor. But she swears that she will never return to England, and refuses to tell him what happened to her family, though she is clearly terrified of some invisible yet ever-present threat. One hot afternoon, he waits until she is napping, then creeps into her bedroom to break open the drawer that s always locked, the one that he hopes holds all her secrets. . . .
Twenty years later, Gerard has not left home he works as a librarian but he lives for just two things: his English penfriend Alice, for whom he yearns with all his heart, and the ghost story he found in his mother s drawer all those years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at the terrible crime that haunted his mother, and, finally, destroyed her. And as Viola s chilling tales lead him to London, Gerard realizes that the stories might hold the key to finding Alice as well as unveiling his family's mystery or are they leading him directly to the untimely death they seem to foretell?
Harwood s deliciously clever debut never loosens its grip on us as it moves from Gerard's present-day detective work to the macabre world of Viola's supernatural stories, from Australia to London, from the safety of books to the terror of a ghost story come alive. Astonishingly assured, compulsively readable, The Ghost Writer shows us just how dangerous family skeletons and stories -- can be.
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Back cover copy

"Gerard is a timid librarian whose only real friend is his pen pal, a beautiful Englishwoman named Alice, who is, sadly, confined to a wheelchair after a horrific car accident. They've been sending passionate letters to each other since they were 13, but they've never actually met. In fact, Alice refuses to let Gerard come to visit her. Does she have some connection to Gerard's creepy, semi-insane mom, who's also English? And to those Victorian horror tales that Gerard keeps stumbling across? What's she hiding, anyway? The answers are yes, yes, and wait and see. . . ." - Time Magazine
"It begins, as good ghost stories should, not in the dark, not in a haunted house, but in a stuffy and silent room scented with perfume and mothballs . . . We are drawn compulsively into his web of threads." -- Ruth Rendell, Sunday Times (London)
"A first-class creeper." --The Boston Globe
"Intricate and engrossing. . . . One ghoulishly absorbing read." - Entertainment Weekly
"Harwood switches styles with astonishing finesse: V.H.'s Victorian ghost stories are flawless in tone." -- San Jose Mercury News
"A chilling tale sure to make your spine shiver on even the hottest summer day." --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
JOHN HARWOOD grew up in Hobart, Australia, and studied literature and philosophy at the universities of Tasmania and Cambridge. He has published biography, political journalism, satire, and poetry.
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Review quote

"By the last page, all loose ends have been tied up, but the uncanny still clings to everything."
--Laura Miller " "
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Rating details

4,431 ratings
3.38 out of 5 stars
5 16% (715)
4 30% (1,351)
3 34% (1,517)
2 14% (600)
1 6% (248)
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