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The Ghost in Love

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,989 ratings  ·  321 reviews
"I envy anyone who has yet to enjoy the sexy, eerie, and addictive novels of Jonathan Carroll. They are delicious treats—with devilish tricks inside them."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

Neil Gaiman has written: "Jonathan Carroll has the magic. He'll lend you his eyes, and you'll never see the world in quite the same way ever again."

Welcome to the luminous and marvelous
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  1,989 ratings  ·  321 reviews

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Apr 06, 2010 rated it liked it
The first Jonathan Carroll book i read, about eight years ago, was The Wooden Sea, an other-worldly sci-fi fever dream of a novel. I really liked it, and then I finished it, and it made me crazy, because at the end, I had only a vague idea of what the heck had happened.

The Ghost in Love is less opaque but similarly fantastical, and I could probably give both books the same capsule review: It starts off making sense, and then things get really weird, and continue to get weirder. Also there is a d
Apr 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
Didn't like it. Didn't get it. I wish someone would pay me to write a book that seems like I made up as I went along. No plot necessary...things can change midstream with no explanation...nothing has to make sense. I know there's a market for this kind of book but I'm not part of it! I just finished it and yet I couldn't even tell you how it ended. The plot never made sense anyway so I guess I didn't care how it ended. No part of the plot seemed to be resolved. For example, the ghost in love (he ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I thought this was a lovely book. I would recommend this book with caution, for I can see people either loving or hating this book. Readers may not like it because there is much in the story which is left unexplained, but I suppose I'm a relatively complacent reader, as any mysteries left unexplained to me weren't as important as the feelings and thoughts of the characters, along with the overall message I took from the book.

I happen to love The Ghost in Love, and finished the book a little happ
Jen Dent
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Some of the things I don't like in other authors such as jerky transitions and sloppy endings I eternally forgive in Jonathan Carroll because I am really taken with his descriptions of things and the relationships of who he is writing about. All of his books have these characters with beautiful attractions to each other for all the tiny little reasons we each have for anybody we've ever cared about, but here they are laid out for us the reader in charming array. Touch, details, funny bits of mem ...more
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Selena by: Seattle Public Librarian
Shelves: 2009
A librarian recommended this book to me when there were no Murakami books on the shelf. She assured me that this would fill that same gap in my heart. It sat around in my room, almost forgotten, for about a month, and when it was time to give it back or incur over-due fines, I decided to read it anyway. I began at eleven and finished at four in the morning.

Jonathan Carroll’s Ghost in Love begins as a relatively normal story about a breakup between Ben and his girlfriend, German. Then we find out
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction readers
Recommended to Michele by: a friend
Shelves: fiction
I love Jonathan Carroll. Here's what happens to me when I read his books. Number 1, reading the book is a roller coaster of delights. There is always the element of the supernatural but I would not call these books fantasy, at least not traditional fantasy. There is always some cool dog in the book that can talk. Carroll has a million interesting complicated plot twists and ideas that unfold as the novel progresses and as my friend, C, put it, the novel crescendos to the very end. Number 2, you ...more
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
The ghost who is in love is Ling, a companion ghost to still-living Ben Gould; Ben was slated to die earlier but did not, thus throwing the ghost world into a state of confusion and disconcert. Ling is attached to Ben in order to find out what exactly is happening and why those scheduled to die are not dying as the schedule dictates. In the meantime, Ben is having flashes of another person's life and is suddenly able to communicate with his dog, Pilot. As Ben's recently ex-girlfriend, German, he ...more
lynne naranek
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
The dust jacket features a glowing review of the author by Stephen King, so that was the clincher - without SK's input, I probably would have teetered the othe rway and laid the book back on the library shelf.

So I guess I could say it's SK's fault that I had to limp through this book?! :p

Seriously, though. The idea is good. Something is happening: people who are supposed to die are NOT dying, thus throwing the folk in charge of the afterlife into disarray. Thing is, the "normal" system that th
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Jonathan Carroll's work. I've read and loved several of his novels, but not for a while. Ghost in Love has all the classic Carroll's elements, great writing, small scale but gepic love story and plenty of magic/weirdness. Actually, with this story I think there might have been too much of the latter, possibly overwhelming the formers. Although it all made sense in the way Carroll's books usually do, it was almost a bit too convoluted or overly complicated. The story itself was great ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Highly recommend! What a wonderful imagination this author has! Whatever you think this book is about, it's full of surprises. This is a book about love, including self-love. It's about accepting all parts of yourself- all of your different selves. This is a great book for dog lovers too- dogs play a wonderful role in this story. This is one of those books which I will never forget. I can't wait to read more of this author's novels.
Jerri Brissette
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I would call this a mind twister. You think your headed down a path toward something and suddenly your brain is twisted around and you're yanked off into some other unknown. Yes, it's weird, but once you stop resisting, you'll be much happier. ...more
The Ghost in Love is a bizarre page-turner that breaks all the rules of death and ghosts as we know them. According to Jonathan Carroll, God decided to create ghosts only because people believed in them anyway and they seemed like a good idea. Their purpose would be to tie up loose ends after a person died. Strangely, the ghost wouldn't have to look like the person they belonged to since they operated on a plane of existence where they could only been seen by other ghosts and by animals.

Ling is
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
How did I take so damn long to read this?? And by that, I mean that I have owned it for nearly two years, and I kept reading the first three pages then putting it down; I knew I wanted to pay attention, to read every word, to drown myself in the story, and I guess I haven't had the concentration for that until now. Admittedly, I read most of this at work at the library, where I should have been concentrating on work, and it became jarring to have to put it down and actually assist the patrons. I ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It started when I read the recommendation for the book from one of Nancy Pearl's columns where she quoted from page 171 "A man, a dog, and two understandably disgruntled women were walking down a sidewalk. One woman was a ghost, the man should have been dead, the dog was the reincarnation of the should-have-been-dead's girlfriend, and the last, the tall woman, was an innocent bystander who had the bad fortune of loving two of the others." HOw can you not fall in love with a boo ...more
Tracy Walters
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book does not really describe the has a little bit of a plot line about a ghost in love but otherwise it is a book about humans taking charge of their lives and not dying when their time has come.

It was actually a very funny book with a bunch of fleeting bizarre characters that were each very quirky and entertaining. Ben and German are very likable characters, and Pilot the dog is wonderful...

It is a pretty complex story so you really should pay attention but you wil
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The world is going crazy. Ben Gould was meant to die at a certain time, and yet he didn't. The angels can't figure out what's going to happen next, and neither can Ling, Ben's ghost. Ben, clueless to his own significance, is just trying to figure out what to do now that he and his girlfriend German have broken up. Welcome to The Ghost in Love.

Like all of Jonathan Carroll's books, this one begins with a brilliantly strange premise, and goes crazy. Unlike what I've read of Jonathan Carroll thus fa
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Jonathan Carroll holds a strange place in my heart. I have to say that none of his books of the last decade have pulled me in the way his early books did, but I still wait for them eagerly, and read them with relish.
Somewhere in the middle, they start to leave me cold. He explores similar territory in different ways. There are many elements of his previous books evident, but it has lost a little bit of charm for me. I can't quite put my finger on it. The characters are well developed, and likea
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorites by Jonathan Carroll, I think. I found this one much more hopeful and optimistic than some of his previous novels. His writing style does take some getting used to, as there's a lot of exposition that occurs all the way through the story, and sometimes he'll even disrupt the narrative flow to make a point directly to the reader, and that can be jarring. But in the end, it all comes down to something that's completely magical and strange and even absurd at times, but so th ...more
Jonathan Carroll’s The Ghost in Love: A Novel is an odd book with a ghost (in love), a talking dog, and the Angel of Death (who can appear in any form he/it/? wants). It is whimsical and charming with a dash of creepiness. However, the book falls apart for me in the last two ridiculous, what-the-fuck-just-happened chapters of glaring “here’s the whole message of the novel so you dumbass readers don’t actually have to think and come to your own conclusions (which might differ from what I, the aut ...more
Julie Sandel
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As with all his novels, you begin one place and then proceed to go somewhere totally different. I have read all his novels, except Bathing the Lion which is next.

His best books in my opinion : Land of Laughs, Wooden Sea, White Apples, and maybe Mountains of the Moon.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I’ve had this novel on my shelves for a bit more than a year and I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I’ve read about several of Jonathan Carroll’s novels and they all sound amazing. In fact, they sound like I might have found a new favorite author. So this book was the test of this hypothesis – is Jonathan Carroll really as good as he sounds?

From the beginning, I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be when a book starts with a conversation between a ghost and a dog, a conversation taking place whil
Carroll does some very interesting and clever things with the ideas of ghosts and the afterlife, which, along with some great characters and a few moments of pure emotion, really is what I was hoping to get from this book, and I did. It was an interesting and thought-provoking journey, though I wouldn't say I agreed with the ideas put forth.

The convoluted story had me guessing and turning pages. I liked the feel of this story -its world and its style- and with good plot and compelling characters
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Whimsical Fantasy
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: A friend
I liked this novel a lot--I got sucked in from the first and read it in one sitting. It's not quite like anything I've read. Maybe the closest analogy is a modern prose version of Dante's Divine Comedy with a quirky sense of humor, a contemporary allegory of soul and psyche starring a man, Benjamin Gould, his girlfriend German Landis, their talking dog Pilot, and oh, yeah, Benjamin's ghost, Ling, living with Ben and in love with his girlfriend. And if that sounds whacky, hold on, because this st ...more
Shauna Hruby
Mar 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Hmmm. I think I should have liked this one more than I did. It was quirky and dealt with existential ideas of identity and purpose--it had talking dogs and gourmet cooking ghosts and other fun twists and turns, but I guess I didn't buy everything Carroll was trying to teach. It was about a guy who falls and hits his head and is supposed to die, but doesn't. This intrigues the Angel of Death, who monitors him, along with his ghost, who try to find out why the rules were broken and what might happ ...more
Tim Hicks
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Maybe as a hard-core reader of science fiction and fantasy I should have learned by now to run away from the words "magic realism."

Maybe I should have started with a different Carroll book.

Maybe I'm grumpy because I have a cold.

I was steered to this as a witty, funny exploration of a what-if concept. It is that, for about 2/3 of the book. For the rest of the way, I kept thinking of a balloon that was blown up and then released: pbbblllfffffttt! and limpness.

(view spoiler)
Chrystal Hays
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm a big fan of Jonathan Carroll, but this was not up to the level I expect.

The beginning is charmingly chaotic, and Carroll's attention to detail is adept at triggering my own memories of times, places, smells, emotions, and entire segments of life. The ironic, humorous undertones are there and things progress at a nice clip.

Sadly, the last part of the book feels contrived and has the same feel as an after-school special. I had the impression that he wanted to make a statement about humanity
Duncan Smith
May 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read 'The Land of Laughs' and gave that five stars. I did not find this one as good.

The ideas are there, but I don't think he did enough with them. The characters seem a bit undeveloped to use the ideas to full effect.

German is an interesting character at first but Carroll doesn't seem to do much with her after the first 30 pages. Neither does the 'ghost' of the title seem to play much significant part in the story after that time, unless the title has some broader symbolic meaning.

I'd hoped
Marne Wilson
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Most of the time I like only the first two thirds of Jonathan Carroll novels and then get confused or turned off by the last third. This book is a rarity, because I liked only the final third. The difference is that instead of starting us out in the real world and gradually letting the nuttiness happen, in this book Carroll plunges us into a series of improbable events from the beginning. (As another reviewer has said here, I had a strong suspicion that he was making things up as he went along.) ...more
May 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When you're relieved that a book is over, that's a bad sign. I was really hooked at the beginning - the premise was intriguing and the characters promising, and it seemed like my kind of off-beat. A lot of the narrative observations struck a chord, and I was settling in and preparing to really enjoy myself. But then - I'm not sure what happened. The plot got too far fetched, the characters stopped feeling like living, breathing people, and everything felt sacrificed to the premise. I took a brea ...more
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Jonathan Carroll (b. 1949) is an award-winning American author of modern fantasy and slipstream novels. His debut book, The Land of Laughs (1980), tells the story of a children’s author whose imagination has left the printed page and begun to influence reality. The book introduced several hallmarks of Carroll’s writing, including talking animals and worlds that straddle the thin line between reali ...more

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