Young Gerard lives with his overprotective mother and his reticent father in a small Australian town. He doesn’t have any friends and his parents are very strict. His life is uneventful, thus, one day, he decides to sneak into his mother’s bedroom. There, he makes a mysterious discovery as he finds a strange photograph of a beautiful woman and a manuscript in his mother’s cupboard. However, Gerard cannot enjoy his discoveries, since his mother enters the room and beats him up for invading her privacy.
When he wants to find out more about the mysterious photograph, he realizes that his secretive mother has something to hide. He senses that the photograph must have some connection to his mother’s past, but she won’t tell him any further details. All he knows is that his mother grew up in England and that she lived with her grandmother at a grand country estate called Staplefield.
Gerard often thinks about the mysterious photograph and about Staplefield, but he can’t tell anybody about it, since he has no friends. Therefore, he is very happy when he begins a pen-friendship with an English girl named Alice. She is an orphan girl who is restricted to a wheelchair after a terrible car accident. She doesn’t want to talk about her past and Gerard agrees not to ask any further questions. Finally, Gerard has found someone to confide in; he can tell her everything and share his ideas and feelings with her.
Over the next couple of years, they frequently write to each other and their letters become very passionate. Gerard and Alice realize that they have fallen in love with each other and Gerard can’t wait to see his beloved. Thus, he plans to visit Alice in England, but she doesn’t know about his intention. All she knows is that Gerard wants to find out more about his mother’s past while he is in England. Unfortunately, he cannot see Alice during his stay, so he disappointedly returns to Australia.
After his mother’s death, Gerard leaves his home and heads for England. This time, he hopes he can finally meet Alice and be with her. He also hopes to find out about Staplefield and the mystifying photograph and thus solve the mysteries behind his mother’s past.
John Harwood does a brilliant job embedding a few Victorian ghost stories within Gerard’s suspenseful story and the reader soon realizes that these stories are somehow connected to Gerard’s mother. But how are they connected? And what does Alice have to do with these spooky stories? What does she have to hide, anyway?
Well, you’ll have to read this superb book to find out. You won’t regret it, as this novel is truly a masterpiece and a tribute to gothic literature! I recommend this book to everyone out there, since The Ghost Writer tells a story full of hidden secrets, mysteries, intrigues and deception. This novel is an astounding piece of work and a terrific ghost story! I just couldn’t put this book down and was eager to find out how it will end. I loved everything about this captivating novel, especially the stories within the story. The Ghost Writer will remind you of The Turn of the Screw and other Victorian ghost stories and it will linger in your mind for a long time!
The Ghost Writer is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I am looking forward to reading other John Harwood novels in the future. (less)