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The Ghost Keeper

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Winner of the HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction, this powerful, sweeping novel set in Vienna during the 1930s and ’40s centres on a poignant love story and a friendship that ends in betrayal.

In the years between the two world wars, Josef Tobak builds a quiet life around his friendships, his beloved wife, Anna, and his devotion to the old Jewish cemeteries of Vie
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by Patrick Crean Editions
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  218 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Lara Maynard
'“We act is if the world still worked the way our minds do, but it doesn't." His forehead hardens as he speaks. "Perhaps it never did.”'― Natalie Morrill, The Ghost Keeper

My local library system has a romance genre sticker on this book. And the cover definitely has that "I'm a romance novel" design about it. But "The Ghost Keeper" is not that. Yes, there is a romantic relationship, but the focus is more on questions of friendship and making the reader ask 'What would I have done?' in the situati
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to know where to start, with The Ghost Keeper. It’s not incorrect to say it’s a story about a man in Vienna, during the Second World War, who looks after the graveyards. But that’s not really the important part. It’s not the heart of the story.

This is a story about relationships – about the bonds between families and friends. It’s about making hard choices, and how you live with the consequences after.

Josef Tobak is a Jewish man, living in Vienna. And his story is very much about livi
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
It was a good story, sad, but rather slow. Felt like there could have been more to it, so much going on in the world during that time but not much of that was really brought into the story. And so much outside the main characters personal ramblings was left with no real answers. Something about the writing style bothered me in a kind of ocd way at times it felt so fractured and all over the place, but the way the story is told I understand that's part of the intent (just was'nt a fan).
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
That was fascinating. There are tense switches that would be ill advised under a different writer but it works very well here. Josef is a character possessing an integrity and forgiveness that seems boundless. This is a very tender, quiet, and engrossing read. Historical fiction fans take note!
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A beautifully written novel. The story winds in and out of time and requires careful concentration. Very nice.
Emily Burns
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. Tender, insightful, deeply human, and deeply felt - I loved it.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning novel. I did not have any real expectations when I picked this novel up other than the author was Canadian and it was set in Vienna.
Since traveling through Europe last summer I have made it a goal to read various books based on places I visited-I could imagine the people and places mentioned so vividly-astonishing. It struck me as I travelled that the ghosts of the past still speak to those who will listen.
I will look forward to reading more from Ms. Morrill.
Katherine Kelly
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Morrill's first full-length novel, set in Vienna during the Second World War, brings the modern reader straight into a faraway historical setting. The characters are relatable and so human! Morrill treats difficult subjects of life and death, suffering and forgiveness, and other even tougher issues, with a compassion, intelligence, and insightfulness that is quite rare. And her writing style is detailed, nuanced, and delightful! The novel captivates from start to end and I would highly recommend ...more
Heather Kidd
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: makes-you-think
Beautifully written! This story lingers in your mind, rich and fine. It has a flowing cadence that slowly builds to a horrifying climax. This is not a romance though there is a love story. This is not just a WW2 story, though it’s set during WW2. It’s more of a story about choices and questions and makes you ask yourself “what would I have done?” It’s a story of friendship, responsibility and forgiveness, loss and hope. It’s a story about surviving and what one does to do that. This book traces ...more
Anna Freeman
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully written book! Many lines read like poetry. I was deeply moved by the story and characters. It was believable, heartbreaking, hopeful, beautiful, spiritual, and evocative - difficult to put down! Very much looking forward to more from this author.
John Ray Catingub
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't often read modern literature so a lot of the styles and innovations in the last half century are lost on me. Those modern styles do not detract from Morrill's debut novel. I particularly enjoy romances and war stories so to combine the two put the book right down my alley. I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism that I missed or just plainly don't understand (particularly the dybbuk fish) but that's a slight against me and not the novel. While playing out how you'd expect a Jewish-family-esc ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Josef Tobak is a serene, gentle man living with his wife and son in his beloved Austria. He tends the Jewish Cemeteries of Vienna, where he lives. Then in 1938, he is forced to send is wife and son, to China for safety, with the help of his closest friend Frederich. Frederich is a Gentile and has joined the Nazi party and yet helps Josef to escape to America, once his health permits.

After the war Josef returns to Vienna and is also reunited with his wife and son. They all have to learn to know e
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
4-4 1/2 star read. Morrills's book is a quiet but compelling read. She introduces us to Josef, a Jew and his Gentile friend Friedrich. Set in Vienna before WWII, the boys become fast friends with Friedrich secretly in love with Josef's older sister Zilla. When the Germans invade Vienna, Josef is married to Anna and Friedrich joins the National Socialists, because he must in order to stay in business. But he secretly helps Josef and Anna and their son Tobias, helping Anna and Tobias flee to China ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first I didn't want to keep reading- it was one of those books that makes you feel like you've started in the middle of the story and you'll never get to keep up.

Several more pages in and my eyes had widened at secrets revealed by the narrator, the language sometimes abstract and image-heavy and sometimes so sharp and piercing it hurts. The secrets were the piercing kind.

It kind of made me hold my breath, the entire time I was in the book. Read it. But read it when you've got time to yourse
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked reading this book but that would be it. I thought the set up was very interesting but the story lacked real drama or any very propelling plot points. Other than the main character, I felt I didn't understand anyone else in the story or their why's. Also, the cemeteries of Vienna, which were the hook that made me pick this book up, were barely a setting which made me disappointed.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I found the book hard to get into. The main character of the book is sometimes talking in the first person and sometimes is written about in the third person. The story takes place during World War II and after and follows 2 friends: one a Jewish man and the other a Nazi official who aids his Jewish friend and family to survive the war.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
(4.5 stars) This was different from most WWII novels in that most of plot occurs before or after the war, yet the war looms large. There was a bit of an unconventional writing style that worked well instead of seeming too cute.
Dorothy Mahoney
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story of Josef Tobak, living in Vienna as a Jewish boy during the Nazi take over and how his friend helps him, struggling with his own demons over time. The narrative slips from the present to the past as Josef reveals what happens to his family.
Nancy Belliveau
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Everyone on line was raving about this book, but I just managed to get through it. I didn't really enjoy it, but I was determined to make it through. I loved the story...I just didn't like the way it was written...often switching back and forth from first to third person.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Although I found this story quite hard to get into (I had to read quite a few pages in before anything began to make sense....found that the author would go off on too many routes but...then...finally!) The story became a wonderful, engrossing read.
A solid 4.5 stars read for me! Another incredible story from the WWII, another great history lesson!
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A subtle , beautiful and haunting story.
Theresa Hayek
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
It was alright. Parts of it kept me reading others were slow and I did not like the ending
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jul 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Didn't finish ...toooo boring
Shimona Hirchberg
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Choosing to read other books over this one. Stopped on page 68 / 18%
Feb 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Very slow and I couldn’t get into it. I gave up after about 30 pages which is very unusual for me. I really didn’t enjoy the writing style at all
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully written story ,I couldn’t put it Down..just loved it
Victoria Shepherd
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly moving tale of the power of art and the enduring power of love.
Karen Ullo
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book from a talented new voice. I'm looking forward to more from this author!
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“All around us is the great noisy world of people, but in my heart there is stillness and a light, and I am a lamp cupped in my sister's hand, a warm bright hidden light.” 0 likes
“I feel as if a conversation has begun; but although I sense that I have meet someone's eyes and smiled, the first word is still hanging over us and I can't seem to remember who it is I'm talking to.” 0 likes
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