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A Fine and Private Place

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,575 ratings  ·  375 reviews
This classic tale from the author of The Last Unicorn is a journey between the realms of the living and the dead, and a testament to the eternal power of love.

Michael Morgan was not ready to die, but his funeral was carried out just the same. Trapped in the dark limbo between life and death as a ghost, he searches for an escape. Instead, he discovers the beautiful Laura...
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 5th 1992 by Roc (first published 1960)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Lynne King
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Do you think that a review comes over better this way? I have only done this once and am thinking of doing it again.

I love going into graveyards and churches. I like looking at the tombstones and the inscriptions and try to imagine what that individual did in his/her life. I then always light a couple of candles in the church. However, I certainly didn’t think that I would thoroughly enjoy a story about a man called Mr Rebeck who lived in a large, sprawlin
Mar 03, 2010 added it
Oh, this book is so wonderful. I kind of hate Peter S. Beagle for having written it when he was NINETEEN YEARS OLD! Is that true?? Is it possible?? I was reading a library copy and it was almost more strength than I possessed not to dog-ear and underline the hell out of it, the writing is just so great. There are so many places I wanted to mark and remember. So. I will be buying my own copy, and maybe some for gifts.

It's a book about a man who has lived for 19 years in a mausoleum of a huge cem
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
A Fine and Private Place: A gentle tale of love, death, and lost souls
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Peter S. Beagle is a well-known author of many fantasy novels, including the classic The Last Unicorn. However, I don’t often hear mention of his debut novel, A Fine and Private Place (1960), written when he was only 19 years old. Given his age it’s a phenomenal achievement — the prose is polished, filled with pathos and humor, and the characters’ relationships are deftly described. And y
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A lonely man lives in a New York cemetery is accompanied by two ghosts and a talking raven. Along the way he learns about life and love. The story is humorous and touching without being overly sentimental. Peter Beagle's simple and straightforward prose makes the story quick and easy to read, yet unforgettable. ...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Jonathan Rebeck, a homeless man, lives in a New York cemetery. His companions are a talking raven and two new ghosts. While the ghosts explore the circumstances of their deaths and fall in love, Rebeck meets a widow named Mrs. Klapper. Will Rebeck's feelings for Klapper be enough for him to leave behind his cemetery home?

I bought this for a quarter at a book sale and the story was worth a thousand times that. I was hooked from the moment the talking raven tried stealing the salami in the first c
I really don't know what to say about A Fine and Private Place. It's a sweet, touching ghost story about love, life, death and homelessness. There's a man who's run away from live and spent 19 years living in a graveyard. There's a widow who meets him while visiting her husband's grave. There's a young man ghost who has allegedly been poisoned by his wife. There's a beautiful young woman ghost who was hit by a truck. Add a raven and a really bad night guard (bad as in he doesn't guard well) and ...more
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: special-ones
Book 2 of the Great Beagle Reread.

Disclaimer: This is going to be an un-apologetically emotional review, because I do not have thoughts about this book, only feelings.

This is Beagle's first published work, it came out when he was 19, which is utterly depressing. Reading this is a bit like watching a toddler pick up a violin and play Mozart.

I wasn't even 19 when I first read it, and it floored me. Now, rather more years later than I'd like to admit, it has exactly the same effect. You'd think som
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This should be a melancholy book with all the talk of death, wasted lives, and lost loves. Yet Peter S. Beagle can inject charm into a pickle and in doing so, lifts this tale into a amazing look at our attempts to find meaning and love. Mr. Rebeck wandered into a cemetery 20 years ago and now lives there avoiding the living and only finding company with the ghosts and a raven. Michael and Laura has recently died but are struggling with both their deaths and their past lives...and their feelings ...more
Robin Hobb
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first read A Fine and Private Place in 1970. It was my first introduction to the work of Peter S. Beagle. I was 18 years old. That I can still recall the opening scene so clearly is an indication that this book was a unique experience for me as a reader. I immediately followed this book by reading The Last Unicorn. A Fine and Private Place is a contemporary 'ghost' story set in a cemetary, and The Last Unicorn is a lovely fantasy set in an alternate world. I recommend both of them without rese ...more
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers HERE

A few weeks ago, I read and reviewed Sleight of Hand, my first real introduction to Peter S. Beagle’s writing and I loved it so much I proceeded to add some of his other books to my TBR pile: The Last Unicorn because everybody seems to love it and A Fine and Private Place which came highly recommended by The Other Ana ( I decided to start in chronological order: A Fine and Private Place was Mr Beagle’s first book, published
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
For those who are interested, there is a talking raven and chess with the dead. PETER BEAGLE WROTE THIS AT NINEFUCKINGTEEN. I am not going to get into what I was writing at the tender age of ninefuckingteen. In any case: a book about death and love, unsentimental and full of stunning sweetness. This (along with The Diary of Anne Frank, Breakfast of Champions, & Winesburg Ohio) is a book that makes me start crying in five pages or less. This is not a bad thing. Oh, and Peter S. Beagle can describ ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have loved this when I was Laura's age, or maybe even as a teen, romantic and idealistic and all. But I wasn't really into this kind of stuff then. Now that I'm older than Klapper, I can appreciate the charm and the poetry and the themes better. The raven almost steals the show imo. And I like that in another language the title is "Hey Rebeck!"

btw, I did not actually read the edition shown so I have no idea whether I read the complete or definitive edition. It seemed fine. Anyway, I jus
Rowan MacBean
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Hm... I love Peter S. Beagle's style. I love his ideas and I love the way he puts words together. Logically, I should love everything he writes, right? Well, apparently I don't.

When I started reading A Fine and Private Place, the back cover (which is the summary above) and the first chapter or so really pulled me in. But then it slowed down and stayed slow. Hopelessly slow. It took me forever to read because I'd curl up with it and there was nothing to keep me awake. In 260-something pages, pret
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a contemplative book about life, love, and death that follows the interactions between people, ghosts, and a talking raven in a cemetery. I have rather mixed feelings about this book. There is a whole lot of introspective dialogue going on, particularly in the conversations between two ghosts who contemplate who they were when they were living and what it all means to them now that they are dead. It gets very annoying at times, yet some things hit me on such a personal level that I would ...more
raheleh mansoor
May 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classicwonders
I love "The Last Unicorn"--I've probably re-read it at least half a dozen times. When I saw "A Fine & Private Place" in the bookstore yesterday, a special re-released version of a yet unread Peter Beagle book, I had to get it. I flew through it on a stunning day at the beach. There are a couple of lines in here that were particularly gorgeously crafted and followed me throughout the book. Apt, since it's a book about ghosts and hauntings.

Surprisingly, it doesn't read like a first novel. The lang
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are no happy endings, because nothing ever ends. That (admittedly paraphrased) quote pretty much encapsulates the book, which is sometimes sweetly cynical, and always bittersweetly romantic. Prose that is poetic, with its beautiful and sometimes stark similes and metaphors, without being florid or cloying, and it shocked me how modern it could sound, in its ideas and its love for the city in which it takes place (there were a few tell-tale signs, like talk of the El and the fact that penic ...more
Rosemary Atwell
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book came from a good friend, whose opinion I value highly. I don't tend to read much fantasy or sci-fi (I'd rather be entertained by that genre in another medium) - but often books are so well-written that it seems a shame not to enjoy them in their original creation. ‘A Fine and Private Place’ more than falls into this category.
I loved the language, the descriptions and the fine, sensitive writing that made this book such a wonderful read. It seemed to inhabit its own space and to heighte
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: death
This is a high three star read. This is an in depth character study and contemplative book. One of the only plot arcs involves discovering the truth of one of the ghost's death. Otherwise, this is a book about four main characters and a raven and what they think about the nature of life and death. Though this takes place in summer, it had a very autumnal feel for me. This also takes place in New York City. I thought that setting came through in the story. The characters voices are all unique, wh ...more
Parts of this book reminded me of Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry, but it's better. I love a good story of this type that's not scary and this one is almost perfect. ...more
Jeanette (Now on StoryGraph)
2 1/2 stars

It's impressive that Peter Beagle wrote his first novel at the age of nineteen. I'm sorry to say the story doesn't add up to much. He would have done well to indulge more in whimsy and skip the philosophical ramblings. I've read his sweet novel, The Last Unicorn, as well as his picaresque nonfiction book, I See By My Outfit. He has a special gift for the whimsical, and I'm glad he found his strength and stayed true to it in his later books.

In this book I liked the talking raven best
fantasy fiction is everything
One of the most enchanted ghost story I've ever read. usually writers write Ghost story to scared readers or ignite the fear hidden inside you. but this ghost story somehow reminded human being of the meaning about live. in the story Cemetery remains a undisturbed place for ghosts which want to rest in piece. However, people are family, lovers or acquaintances to come to visit the cemetery regularly. they don't know ghost exit and still stay in the cemetery. it arouses ghosts' memories about lov ...more
Chris Raiin
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most beautiful books I've ever read! It has a way of being fantasy and literature all at the same time. The characters are few and carefully drawn. You know them; they're real to you; you become part of this little group that lives in the cemetery and contemplates, in death, what should have been answered while living, except we were too busy to think of it. It has that feel. I look forward to returning to this book. It strikes me as one of those works that changes significantly as yo ...more
Betsy Gant
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A beautifully written novel by Peter S. Beagle. This story takes place in NYC which is one of my favorite places in the world.It's hard to believe that Beagle was 19 yrs. old when he began to write this. I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogues. And the talking animals and the Raven were hilarious. Marvelous thoughts and quotes about what it means to truly live, die, and love. If I was an English major, I'd dissect this more! I would've posted my favorite quotes and passages, but there were too many a ...more
Christian McKay
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I am in love with Gertrude Klapper.

Also, he wrote this when he was nineteen?!!?!
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with the patience to read a slow, well-told ghost story of romance.
Recommended to Jamie by: Margaret Weis
At met Peter Beagle at Dragon*Con in 2007, a real treat because his storytelling and use of language had amazed me in The Last Unicorn. I had seen the movie first, as a kid, and my sister Stacy had played the VHS tape over and over and over again so much that I was convinced I hated the story. But when I later read the book I knew I had discovered a rare, amazing author.

Fast-forward to another author, Margaret Weis, who told me that she had read Peter Beagle's first novel, A Fine and Private Pla
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
   This took some effort to get through. After a few dozen pages, I was feeling restless and bored and trying to figure out what kind of book I was reading. I check the reviews here and discovered that, yes, folks agreed that it moved kinda slow, but that the character development was the be-all of the book and it would, in the end, be worthwhile.

   And it was. It would be somewhat superfluous to say that this book is haunting, since it takes place almost completely in a cemetery in the Bronx. (
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Peter S. Beagle first came on the scene with this fable about a man living in a cemetary who talks to ghosts and a raven, he was hailed as a new voice and compared with John Updike and Phillip Roth. His follow-up, a non-fiction travelogue about a trip across the U.S. on a motorcyle with a friend helped to build that reputation. The next book was the wonderful "Last Unicorn," and all those critics who hailed him as a wonderful, powerful new voice in literature wrote him off as merely a write ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This is a book that is more about "the experience" than about the story or a plot. This works sometimes, but not too often (for me at least. I see many truly did enjoy this book.). The only book that jumps to mind for me (that I actually enjoyed that is) that accomplished this would be, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I found A Fine and Private Place mostly rather tedious.

The book is an emotional little stroll through the "death" or possibly The "after life" of Michael Morgan and the other deniz
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite books, and I knew that I wanted to read something else by Beagle. I love his writing style. At times, it reminds of me of Neil Gaiman's, but usually, it is a style all his own, simple yet charming and lovely.
The plot line of this novel is unique. A man lives in a cemetery, fed by a raven, and is a companion of the dead. He meets two ghosts named Michael and Laura, a live woman named Mrs. Klapper, and a live man named Campos, and his world changes forever. I
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Peter Soyer Beagle (born April 20, 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. He is also a talented guitarist and folk singer. He wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place , when he was only 19 years old. Today he is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, which routinely polls as one of the top ten fantasy novels of all time, and at least two of ...more

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