John's Reviews > The Ghost

The Ghost by Arnold Bennett
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Jul 15, 2017

really liked it

When I was in my teens, my much older brother's job took him to live in the Staffordshire Potteries, and as a result he and my mum got passionately into the novels of Arnold Bennett. I tried one of them -- I think it was Clayhanger, which was in one of those really cool pale-blue Penguin Modern Classics editions at the time -- and basically got about thirty pages into it before boredom set in. Clearly not a novel designed for 15-year-olds.

In consequence, it's taken me a while (to euphemize) to get back to Bennett.

The Ghost: A Modern Fantasy (to give it its full title) is what John Buchan would have called "a shocker": an adventure tale written purely with entertainment in mind. And, you bet, I was entertained by it.

Anyone who loves beautiful opera singer Rosetta Rosa is in for a hard time, if not one of yet actual wasting deaths. Recently graduated doctor Carl Foster, having been called upon to administer to the latest victim of the curse, the (male) opera singer Alresca, both becomes a boon companion of the man and falls in love himself with Rosa. It takes Carl a while -- a lot longer than it takes us, as readers -- to realize that the curse surrounding Rosa is a product of the malevolence of the jealous ghost of a fiance who died young. Can Carl face down the ghost?

Along the way there are adventurous digressions and plenty of the attributes of melodrama; accordingly, the plot meanders a bit in the middle, although the thralldom never flags. If I hadn't known the writer's name beforehand I'd never have guessed that this was the same author as was responsible for the stolid Clayhanger family saga.

The Ghost is a great romp (and a lot shorter, be it noted, than Bennett's Potteries novels). You can find it on Project Gutenberg, which is where I've just been, grabbing epubs of some of Bennett's other "fantasias" -- his lighter offerings. I may have been really quite extraordinarily slow to discover this author, but I'm glad to have gotten there in the end.
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July 15, 2017 – Shelved
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