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Grief Cottage

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  2,375 ratings  ·  494 reviews
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10)
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.

After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Bloomsbury USA
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,375 ratings  ·  494 reviews

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Angela M
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it

Let's face it. No matter what anyone else says about a book, whether it's a reviewer, a teacher, or even the author, for the most part, by the very nature of the intimate experience that reading is, the person reading the book is sole judge and jury of what the story means to them. I loved that Gail Godwin in her note which begins "Dear Reader" and ends with "I'll let you be the judge", leaves it up to us whether we think it is a ghost story or not.

Eleven year old Marcus Harshaw believes he's se
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a hauntingly profound and moving novel that meditates on the spaces between life and death. 11 year old Marcus's life falls apart when his mother dies. He and his mother were so close, and her circumstances meant that Marcus was in a very grown up place, taking care of her and their home, struggling to make ends meet. The lonely, adrift Marcus never knew his father and eventually ends up living on a South Carolina island with his crabby Aunt Charlotte, a woman who values her privacy and ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 A very slow paced book which took me a bit to become fully engaged. Two things kept me reading. The first was the beautiful writing, Godwin is exceptional at her word usage, to create both atmosphere and her characters. The second was the character of Marcus, only eleven when he lost his mother and sent to live with a reclusive artist, who is his great aunt. He is just so likable, responsible beyond his years and yet still full of curiosity and wonder. It was though, his character that prese ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it

I really loved Marcus, an 11 yr old very bright boy. He is being raised by his mother and they are not well off, one night she goes out to get them pizza and dies from a car wreck. He then goes to live with his great aunt Charlotte who becomes his guardian, at a beach cottage in South Carolina.

There is a neighboring cottage that was rented by a family 50 yrs earlier during a hurricane and none of that family has ever been found. Hence the name, Grief Cottage. Marcus has seen the ghost of the son
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction
This is a wonderful meditation of grief and loss but also on family and human connection. I absolutely adored this very slow-moving, character focussed novel - but I thought the ending fizzled out and focussed different aspects than I would have liked.

This book follows Marcus, who after just having lost his mother moves to live with his great-aunt Charlotte. She is a bit of a hermit, earning her money painting pictures of the island she lives on and avoiding human interaction as much as possible
Sarah Joint
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a solid piece of what I'd consider literary fiction. I've come to realise it's a genre I can really enjoy when I'm in the right mood to really immerse myself in a slow, atmospheric read that'll make you think. No doubt about it: this is a slow book that concentrates on the reader really getting to know the characters. It's very beautifully written and intelligent. It's not a long book, but read right it might take a little while to get through it. Absolutely not your typical ghost story, ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Coming of age and ghosts are not my favorite subjects in reading but the setting and writing here made this one a satisfying read. As is often the case, Marcus is not like any eleven year old I know. I often wonder if kids of this age really think as deeply as these stories suggest.
When he comes to live with his great aunt Charlotte following the tragic death of his mother he is not the only one feeling loss, alienation, hopelessness, and grief.
We have all had to come through that transiti
Julie Christine
In 1954, Hurricane Hazel struck the Atlantic coast, leaving scores dead in its wake. Among the casualties was a family of three: mother, father, and their teenaged son, who simply vanished. The last place the family had been seen alive was a small cottage at the end of a beach on the South Carolina coast. In the years that followed, the cottage, abandoned and falling into disrepair, grew in reputation, even as it diminished in structure. Grief Cottage, it came to be known. Haunted, perhaps, by a ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Grief Cottage is a story about just that and more. There is, in fact, a ruined cottage that has been so-named by the local residents because of its condition and lives lost there during Hurricane Hazel 50 years ago. But this cottage seems to also reflect, or perhaps embody, various stages of life's grief lived by some residents of nearby dwellings. The most obvious is Marcus. The tale initially combines this smart eleven year old boy boy, recovering from the loss of his mother and having a somew ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eleven-year-old Marcus is orphaned when his mother dies in a car accident, and his great-aunt Charlotte is appointed his guardian. Charlotte is a reclusive artist who lives in a beach cottage on a South Carolina island. Marcus is curious, exceptionally intelligent, and willing to help out around the house so he will not wear out his welcome. Charlotte shuts herself up painting in her studio all day, fueled with bottles of red wine, so Marcus has a lot of time on his hands for exploring the beach ...more
Lark Benobi
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Sweet, slow, gentle, charming, preposterously sentimental, and with a mystery running through it that had all the dread of a Nancy Drew novel. I absolutely loved reading it.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a pretty standard beach read, set on a fictional tiny island off the coast of South Carolina, which the author based on Isle of Palms and Pawley's Island. A young boy moves in with his great-aunt after the death of his mother, where he has a lot of time to himself, and he grows curious about the cottage at the other end of the beach. It might be a ghost story, it might be a coming of age story.

It's a quick read, but I'm perplexed at its inclusion in the Tournament of Books, which I assoc
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book starts, inappropriately, low key, and stays low key for a significant amount of time. it's inappropriate. it's perfect.

an eleven-year-old loses his mom, and only parent, in a freak car accident, wholly unexpectedly. this lands him in foster care for a year, after which a proper guardian is found in a great aunt who lives on an island off the coast of north carolina. this is all taken care of by godwin in a few pages, no big deal. the kid settles easily in his new life. he knows how to
Diane Barnes
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Great story, great characters, especially Marcus and Lachicotte, wonderful, atmospheric lowcountry setting, but somehow I could just never connect deeply with this novel. I also felt that the ending was rushed and a little contrived.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with this boy. He’s a little older than me, fourteen, and he’s been dead for fifty years.”

I found the most compelling part of the story is that which directly related to the ‘ghost boy’ who occupies a vacant beach house, a boy who disappeared years ago during a hurricane, along with his parents.

Marcus, a boy wise beyond his 11 years, has come to live with his great aunt after the death of his mother. I liked Marcus’s character, his spunk and his curious nature.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
When 11 year old Marcus loses his mom in a car accident, he must go to live with his only living relative, his Great-Aunt Charlotte. Charlotte is used to living a solitary life as a painter at her beach house but she loves & appreciates Marcus in her own way. However, Marcus has free reign on his summer days while Charlotte paints and because of this he becomes obsessed with Grief Cottage. Named this because in the 50’s there was a hurricane & the parents and child were killed. Marcus be ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I almost didn't read this novel because of its title - I thought it would be a tough, sad read. The novel is about grief but is not "heavy." I didn't want to put it down. Godwin writes beautifully about an eleven-year-old precocious boy who just lost his mother and has moved to his great aunt's beach cottage. I fell in love with Marcus and was riveted by his summer of self-discovery.
Dale Harcombe
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After his mother’s death, Marcus Harshaw goes to live with Aunt Charlotte. Marcus is eleven years old, but in manner and thinking he is much older. He has been used to keeping house and caring for his mother before she died in a car accident. As a result he is not your typical eleven year old but is wise beyond his years. Aunt Charlotte is actually his mother’s aunt. She lives on a small South Carolina Island, is a woman of few words who likes her privacy, painting and a certain amount of alcoho ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Grief Cottage is a gorgeous little book. Not only does Godwind deliver her usual beautiful use of language but the main character, eleven year old Marcus who goes to live on an island off the coast of the mid Atlantic with his great aunt, is a surprisingly mature child. In fact he'd be considered more on top of things compared to adults. The question is whether he's harming himself by superimposing such emotional maturity. This might sound hard to believe but Godwin's portrayal is dead on. Even ...more
I hate when this happens. This story started out really well and it had potential to mean something for me, then it fizzed out and left me feeling somehow cheated. I liked the characters of Marcus and Lachicotte, and I was even okay with the presence/or not of the ghost boy. Underlying everything was a deeper question of how people handle loss and memory, how an eleven year old might deal with coming face-to-face with the mortality of everyone he loves, and how he might rebuild a life when every ...more
I received a copy from Bloomsbury (off of NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not persuade my true opinion of the book.

Well, that was disappointing! Grief Cottage has an interesting premise, so I was really exited to start the book as soon as I received it (the cover is beautiful, too!). Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned into unease. You see, the writing from the very beginning is just so...choppy and hard to get into. Which really takes away from the interesting
Dannielle Insalaco
A timely book about grief. I'm still processing .

Ok. I think I can talk about this without crying. The book is a coming of age tale with a ghost thrown in and a mystery solved. The cast of characters are as real as you or I....with vices, delusions and giving up words of wisdom to this young boy. It moved me very deeply.
A very atmospheric read, set on a South Carolina island with a haunted cottage where a family was swept away by a hurricane. However, I thought the rhythm of the young narrator’s languid summer days caring for his great-aunt became tedious, and I struggled to buy how self-aware he was meant to be of his fragile mental state at the age of 11. Reminiscent of John Irving (quirky secondary characters and so on) but without the same spark.
Barbara Lemon
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! Gail Godwin has written a beautiful coming of age story. The majority of the story takes place on an island off of South Carolina , a beautiful and haunting location. Eleven year old Marcus' mother has died and he goes to live with his eccentric great-aunt Charlotte on a remote part of the island. Not far away from the great-aunt's cottage is an old ruined cottage called Grief Cottage where, as the story goes, a 14 year old boy had vanished during a hurricane. Marcu ...more
Marcus Harshaw is eleven years old, but he has an old soul.

He and his mother lived together in semi-poverty sharing a bedroom. An only child, he was studious and dependable. Serious and academically advanced, Marcus excelled at school and helped his Mum who worked several part-time jobs... that is until one night she went out to get them a pizza and died in an automobile accident. Afterward, Marcus spent a short while in foster care until he went to live with his great aunt Charlotte Lee who liv
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Characters inner ruins lay concealed, their grief diverted by obsessions and addictions, in Gail Godwin's novel Grief Cottage.

After the death of his single mother, eleven-year-old Marcus' only living family member, his Aunt Charlotte, becomes his guardian. While his depressed aunt spends her days in her art studio, painting and sipping bottles of red wine, Marcus uses his honed homemaking skills to keep the beach front cottage spic and span, making himself useful, as he did for his working mom.
Bill Kupersmith
Godwin too often creates characters who are trying much too hard to be "characters" & great aunt painter was unendurable - not helped by an Audible narrator who gave her a most annoyingly affected voice.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
it was a ghost story...but not the ghost story that I had expected. Was I disappointed? first but then I discovered that it was so much more...the "literary child" of the mating of a ghost story and a psychological thriller... then I was hooked. Marcus...the 11 year old orphan is years ahead of the average 11 year old. The aunt that took him in had never met him but was his only living relative...was a mixture of hardy common sense, heartwarming sensitivity to a grieving child...and a l ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, general-fiction
A well-written novel, though I remained slightly unsure whether this was meant to be a ghost story or a psycholgical exploration on loss; I could see what Godwin was aiming for but it didn't completely coalesce for me. Additionally there's quite a bit of abuse and dysfunction in the backstory, though it was handled deftly if a little too blatantly for my tastes. Bottomline, elements of the story were simply too sad or dark for this particular book to appeal to me making me draw the conclusion th ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, fiction
"Grief Cottage" is the story of Marcus, a boy who loses his mother and has to go live with the only family he has left, his mother's Aunt Charlotte. Aunt Charlotte lives on a small island in South Carolina and makes a tidy living as an artist. Marcus is sure that she doesn't want him there, not really but just as Marcus finds comfort in his great aunt, his great aunt finds comfort in him being there.

The characters are what really make the book. Marcus and Charlotte are two very different charact
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Gail Kathleen Godwin is an American novelist and short story writer. She has published one non-fiction work, two collections of short stories, and eleven novels, three of which have been nominated for the National Book Award and five of which have made the New York Times Bestseller List.

Godwin's body of work has garnered many honors, including three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fe
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“because you’re a child and you have no way to compare your life to other people’s lives. Your foremost need is to stay safe within the only life you know.” 0 likes
“After all the human noise and conflicts have stopped, the absent person has more room in your heart to spread out and be herself. My mother's been gone ten years and I know her much better now than when we saw each other every day.” 0 likes
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