Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. It is always appreciated.
Although I was sent an early copy of this, I am not going to lie in my review. I will be brutally honest. Always.
I just didn’t ‘get’ this novel and I did not enjoy it. I was actually disappointed in it. The description of the book and other reviews paint the novel as a ghost story but ghost story, it is not. The novel is more of a coming-of-age, coming-to-terms-with-grief kind of novel. I am always disappointed when books are different from their descriptions or do not fit the genre they have been assigned. I sign up for novels for a reason and if they deviate too far from the description then I am disappointed.
Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin is described as a ghost story. Marcus, our eleven year old protagonist moves to a small South Carolina island with his reclusive, painter, great aunt Charlotte after his mother dies suddenly. Marcus becomes obsessed with Grief Cottage, which the islanders have named as a family went missing there, during a hurricane. Marcus becomes obsessed with this story, visiting the cottage every morning and speaking to the boy whose body was never found. One day, the dead boy reveals himself and along with it, more questions are asked and answered.
Unfortunately, that is where the ghost story ends.
Marcus becomes obsessed with Grief Cottage and does all he can to learn about the house and its deceased inhabitants. Through this research, I thought we would be given some great revelation in the end but all of that falls flat. There was an opportunity for more but as soon as the dead boy reveals himself, the ghost story disappears. I really thought I was in for something haunting and beautiful. Instead, we get a lot of rambling plot points and threads that just seem as if the author is trying to do too much.
It took me SO long to get into this novel also. There isn’t really a plot. Instead, we get a lot of character development and the focus is on all of the developments in Marcus and Aunt Charlotte’s lives. One redeeming factor of this is that Marcus is an amazing character. He is so likeable, you will not believe he is only eleven. He has a certain curiosity that will make you curious too. If it wasn’t for Marcus, I would have stopped reading.
Finally, I have seen a lot of people praise Godwin’s writing style but I really disliked it. She is very good at describing scenes but I’m not into big scenic descriptions. I like excitement and fluidity but Godwin skips chronologically and does not seem to flow, which annoys me.
Unfortunately, this book was not the book I thought I was reading. I have given this 2 stars. I would give it 2.5 just because I liked Marcus but I am just too disappointed in it. Maybe the more I think of it, this will change.