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Ghosts (The Freddie Montgomery Trilogy #2)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  406 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In this brilliantly haunting new novel, John Banville forges an unforgettable amalgam of enchantment and menace that suggests both The Tempest and his own acclaimed The Book of Evidence. "A surreal and exquisitely lyrical new novel by one of the great stylists writing in English today."--Boston Globe.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published October 12th 1993 by Knopf (first published 1993)
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Confusingly, This guy gets a lot of grief on here for being pretentious. But, to me it is an authentic pretentiousness, like art is. Very unlike David Foster Wallace who tries to sound cooler than you or Michael Chabon who tries to sound smarter (and who prolly are.).
here is the thing about banville. about the perfection of his prose. you can be 38 pages into this book and read "I too was eager already for change, for disorder, for the mess and confusion that people make of things...Company, that was what we wanted, the brute warmth of the presence of others to tell us we were alive after all, despite appearances" and you will close the book and run your hand over the cover and stare off into the distance at a tree. the way the light hits it in a square, ill...more
A very intriguing, beautifully written novel, but not what I ever thought I'd like. There's no plot, it's rambling, emotionally diffuse and self-indulgent . . . so why did I like it so well that I'm going to start the sequel, Athena, immediately? The wit, wrenching self-exploration, and poetical expression of the narrator, Freddie Montgomery, are enormously affecting, both aesthetically and empathetically.

In The Book of Evidence, Freddie committed murder, and Ghosts can be likened to Crime and P...more
Un amico mi ha fatto notare un mio limite nello scrivere i commenti ai libri che leggo, consistente nel fatto che quando scrivo un commento positivo mi dilungo e sono prolissa, al contrario quando scrivo che un libro non mi è piaciuto sono concisa, troppo breve.
Ha ragione.
Quando un libro mi è piaciuto mi perdo nel commento quasi con voluttà, come per prolungare il piacere che ho provato nella lettura; quando non mi è piaciuto sono sbrigativa, quasi per spicciarmi a toglierlo dalla mente, “non mi...more
On some level I guess I get the complaint that Ghosts doesn't really have a plot and that it sets up a premise and then mostly ignores it, though I think that's missing the point. For one, it seems pretty clear that most of the plot points will be picked up in the next book (Athena), but more importantly it's a book that isn't really terribly concerned with plot anyway. Like Nabokov's Glory or The Gift (there I go comparing Banville to N again), it's a slow meditation, and the enjoyment comes fr...more
Monica Copeland
I hate it when books build an interesting premise and then don't deliver. The mystery isn't solved, the grisly details of the narrator are not revealed. And there is much ponc-y art talk to add to my annoyance. I got the definite impression this was written by a pretensious git.
I thought that even if "Ghosts" is part of a trilogy, it would not matter too much if I didn't read the first novel in the series. But I was wrong. When I was about 2/3 into the novel, barely understanding something out of what I have read until then, I decided to check out a synopsis of "The Book of Evidence". Only until then I could understand a little bit more what I was reading. Still this did not helped me like the book much more, as I couldn't get past the lack of plot.

The premise is very...more
Jean Carlton
I'm not sure what I think! Maybe even a 1 rating. I had read Book of Evidence and liked it. I think he's a good writer and this is supposed to be the 2nd in a series of three but I don't remember enough about the first one to see much of a connection - very vaguely referred to - and am not motivated to read the 3rd in the series at all. Plot and characters just didn't develop for me.
I don't quit on a book very often and there was obviously enough curiosity to make me want to finish this one but...more
This is all style, no substance, and the style certainly isn't enough to save it.
When I embarked on my yearlong venture of UK living I thought, hey Critiqueen, let’s culturally assimilate. Thus, I bought Ghosts by John Banville, an Irish author who earned my respect by being profiled in the sacred pages of the New Yorker. Banville is an interesting case because he also publishes under another name, Benjamin Black. While Banville is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sea, Black can be found in the genre fiction section, crime fiction to be specific. Genre fi...more
Perry Whitford
Freddy Montgomery, the Nabokovian killer from Banville's comic riot of a novel, The Book of Evidence, has been released after just ten years of incarceration, for "exemplary" behaviour. He is living out the first weeks of his probated freedom on a rocky Irish island as an assistant to a professor compiling a study about an obscure (and fictional) painter.
Soon after his arrival some unexpected visitors are ship-wrecked near their house, all of whom seem to mirror characters from the painters mas...more
Reviewers and critics and even the book's jacket talk of the menace and unsettling dread of Banville's "Ghosts." The patience of the story's dystopian landscape, the absorbancy of the narrator's compound eyes, the oddly limited prescience of the main character's mind -- they all do lend the tale a touch of the tragic, a hint of horror, a whisper of wickedness.

But (much like the birds in this book, which wheel and whoop and sometimes thud into invisible panes of glass) those disconcerting element...more

"Non sono mai stato il tipo che venera la natura, eppure riconosco un certo valore terapeutico alla contemplazione dei fenomeni naturali; credo che abbia a che fare con l'indifferenza del mondo, voglio dire con il modo in cui il mondo non si interessa a noi, alla nostra felicita' o a come soffriamo, con il modo in cui si limita ad aspettare guardando in alto, borbottando tra se' in una lingua che noi non capiamo mai." (page 71)

"Quello che la interessava era la stessa cosa, che interessava...more
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
Johnny B. does it again! This book is a meditation, of sorts, on perception, on relationships, on society, on art. It continues, roughly, some time after The Book of Evidence, though Freddie Montgomery is a much more pensive person these days. No less callous, perhaps, but more pensive. His island becomes peopled with a cast of characters who are all guilty in various degrees. It isn't exactly pleasurable to hang out with this people, but it is intriguing, and I can't seem to get them out of my...more
A sequel that rivals the first, but in different categories entirely. First glance is one of a cast-away group who climb a hill finding an old house. Though you would think that this book has no relation to its former, it does. The main character, Freddie, looks on from afar. Towards the middle the novel concludes with the band of travelers and focuses solely on our newly-released convict. Most might feel that it is all style and no substance. This is a premature and hasty conclusion. Lessons ar...more
As much as I'm a fan of Banville, this one didn't do much for me, I'm afraid. It seemed like it kept introducing new elements, and new characters, only to abandon them by the wayside to focus elsewhere. I think that kept the novel from coming together into a cohesive whole for me.
Banville's command of language is second to none, but he's put his talents to work on far greater novels than this. It's a slight, slightly experimental sour-dream of a novel; a brief flirtation with conscience and consciousness is all that occurs before the reader is left adrift as adrift as the protagonists. A huge cast of characters are thrown at you, Dickensian stereotypes lurk in the corners, but there's never the effort shown to breathe life into any of them, and the lack of resolution (or...more
I sprinted through Ghosts by John Banville, the second in a trilogy starring Freddie our reluctant murderer. Reluctant...well sorta, kinda. Smile Our Freddie is a tortured soul for a certainty and this entry is a bit of a halfway house for him and perhaps his kind. Doppelgangers, art forgeries, references to other Banville characters flit through the pages bringing a smile of recognition to Banville readers, and bear us along on a grand ride.

Pick it up, but if so, buy all three. I can guarantee...more
Kevin Shoop
Difficult to understand, yet impeccably written. Must read Book of Evidence first for any hope of understanding the novel. A treat for hardcore Banville fans, but I'm still merely an intrigued admirer. Definitely will read Athena (#3), and am crossing my fingers for something much more straightforward and less experimental.

Banville once more falls prey to excess attention towards the wording of his prose as opposed to plot development. Though at times intriguing, the allegory inherent within this work is too convoluted and too veiled. Only those passages where the reader is reacquainted with the character of Freddy Montgomery save this from an even lower rating. Has he returned to try and reintegrate himself to society or are these the musings of a criminal mind trying to escape from the crimes committed?
Adrian Stumpp
Banville retells Shakespeare's The Tempest in this beautifully written book in which not a lot happens, the characters are unlikeable, and nothing is resolved. This is apparently the second book of a cycle, but I read it before knowing that, and can say it is enjoyable even if you haven't read the previous book. I'd be more enthusiastic about it here, since I really did enjoy it, if I thought any of my friends who would read this would enjoy it. I can't think of anyone specifically.
Apr 08, 2010 Ev marked it as to-read
Shelves: own
Just found this on my bookshelf. I have no idea when or where I got it, but it was most certainly somewhere in Miami.

The synopsis truck me as eerily Lost-like, thus I have to make the time to read it. It may be NOTHING at all like Lost-but I am in the throes of seeing comparisons everywhere. Plus, it does seem like a good read...

Well it seems to be part of a trilogy, glad I checked first. The Book of Evidence shall now be added to this ever-growing to-read list as well.
Gemma Williams
A very beautiful and subtly strange novel. For the first page or two I was just fishing out literary allusions ( The Tempest especially ) and thinking how clever, but soon was quite captivated and forgot all about that. The plot is haunting. It looks like it is going to go down certain lines, then doesn't really go anywhere, yet the book remains satisfying without anything much needing to happen. A real sense of the everyday being drenched in the mysterious and meaningful.
Sometimes I liked this novel. Every so often it made me think, but not so often about events in the book. Then again, there aren't many events in the book. Banville has a good eye, good vocabulary, good turn of phrase, but the lack of plot made it hard for me to care about the characters. The supporting characters remain as elusive as the figures in a painting that the narrator is examining. Perhaps that was the point. If so, for me, it didn't carry the novel.
john banville is a word man and i love reading his novels for this reason. you're always reaching for the dictionary, not because you don't understand the reference but because you have to know more about this wonderful word. this happens every few pages. he obviously loves words. those irish. i am looking for one of his crime novels that he writes under another name, somebody black.
I reread this book recently and found even more that I love about it. I found numerous parallels to Beckett and Joyce (thankfully, for my paper's sake). Banville's narrators have voices like no other writer's narrators I have read. This one mostly wrestles with being human, with living in society, if that's possible for him. I'll write more about it when I find my notes...
Banville's most Beckettian book –and that's not a compliment. Suffering from an identity crisis in form as well as narrative function does not produce a readily digestible book, and the ensuing lesson is that lyric writing turns to turgid, molasses-like prose when unanchored by the invigorating pull of narrative flow....more
John Banville is becoming my favourite author. Ghosts is the second part of a trilogy that started with The Book of Evidence which I read earlier in the year, narrated by the same person, Freddie Montgomery, now out of prison and living on a small island off the coast of Ireland. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I have no clue what this was. It doesn't help that I dozed my way through MST3K's The Horrors of Spider Island around the same time I read this and kept getting the two mixed up. Every 30 pages or so I'd get disoriented again and wonder what happened to that group of shipwrecked go-go dancers.
I relish Banville's novels because of his extraordinary use of language. GHOSTS was very slow in places and not a lot happened, but it created a mood of longing and sadness. Those who want a slow read with a dash of art criticism would enjoy the poetry of his writing.
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Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up...more
More about John Banville...
The Sea The Book of Evidence (The Freddie Montgomery Trilogy, #1) The Untouchable Ancient Light The Infinities

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“It is not the dead that interest me now, no matter how piteously they may howl. Who, then? The living? No, no, something in between; some third thing.” 0 likes
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