John's Reviews > Four Ghost Stories

Four Ghost Stories by Mary Louisa Molesworth
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's review
Jul 13, 2017

liked it

A collection of four stories by an author I haven't read before but will certainly keep an eye out for in future; unlike the case with so many of the lesser Victorian writers, there's a definite storytelling ability and facility with language here. The stories themselves, alas, while always very readable are for the most part -- three out of four -- no great shakes as stories.

The first and the last in the collection -- "Lady Farquhar's Old Lady" and "The Story of the Rippling Train" -- do little more than recount a sighting of a ghost.

The longest and most ambitious of the tales, "Unexplained," in a sense falls into the same category. An English (I think; could be Irish) widow travels with her two youngest children to a remote German village for an ill conceived vacation. En route the mother and her friends pause at a china manufactory, where the mother impulsively buys the last cup-and-saucer of a now-discontinued range. The owner tells her that the purchaser of the second-last exemplar of that range promised to commission a newly made service of it, but was never heard from again. Later, in the rundown guesthouse at the remote village, the daughter sees the ghost of a man gazing yearningly at the cup-and-saucer. You've guessed the rest.

The story here that I liked by far the most is "Witnessed by Two," which is a tale not of a ghost but of, I suppose, an involuntary astral projection. It's a romantic tale and I loved it, old softy that I am. I imagine its original audience found the tale had some creepy moments before its romantic resolution; not me.

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July 13, 2017 – Shelved
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