Sunday, October 31, 2010
Ghost, Ghouls, and Spirits
I adore ghost stories. When I travel, I try to pick up books that chronicle local ghost stories. But my favorite new ghost story is total fiction--Jenny Crusie’s Maybe This Time. What follows is a mini-review and then an invitation for you to share your favorite ghost story with me!
Maybe This Time, Jennifer Crusie’s nineteenth novel, published in September, is a tour de force contemporary gothic romance. Commitment-phobic heroine Andromeda (Andie) Miller journeys to a remote English estate relocated in Ohio to play governess to her ex-husband’s troubled wards. Once there, she falls in love, first, with the kids, then, with her distant ex-husband, North Archer, when he steps in to fix her problem with the resident ghosts who are attached to the two-hundred-year-old house.
Crusie’s Ph.D. roots show in this book as they do in all her works. She uses references, both literal and metaphoric, to Henry James, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, and Mary Stewart. She taps in to the rich literary history that laid the ground work for popular fiction today--those seminal works that gave birth to both the popular romance genre and the popular horror genre.
On her website, Crusie says she “pays homage” with Maybe This Time to Henry James’s 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw, a Victorian ghost story. Maybe This Time is a contemporary gothic romance which combines equal parts romance, a woman’s journey tale, and a creepy ghost story. At its core is a love story where second chances are possible. Yet, it’s a riveting, scary ghost story, at times, where no one is safe. The children are in jeopardy and anyone who tries to save the kids are a target of an elusive ghoulish murderer. While this novel is a romance at heart and we know the happy ending is a trope conventional to the genre, the reader worries until the very end if the hero and the heroine will ever reconnect and stay together permanently. It isn’t until the most dangerous and manipulative of the three ghosts, who wants North Archer for reasons that finally become evident at the end, invades Andie’s territory and threatens to take over that we understand what’s truly at stake and why it matters.
Who could have guessed that revisiting the classics of old could be quite so funny, entertaining, sad, scary, or hot for contemporary readers? In Crusie’s masterful hands, a ghost story is all that and more!
Okay, so now you’ve heard all about my new favorite “published” ghost story. (I say published because two of my critique partners--one local and one from school--have wonderful ghost stories pending publication.) Go, grab a copy of Crusie’s Maybe This Time. You’ll love it. I promise. Now . . . tell me all about your favorite ghost story. I dare you.
Posted by Mackenzie Lucas
Writes contemporary romance as Mackenzie Lucas. Find me on twitter @MacLucas_writer and on Facebook at MackenzieLucasFanPage. Lucas holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and a B.A. from Dickinson College. She is a writer, writing coach, editor, mother of three, wife, and life-long writing student. Lucas has published four books with Soul Mate Publishing and Indie pubbed five additional titles. She is represented by literary agency McIntosh and Otis, is a PAN member of RWA, and served as president for her local RWA chapter (Washington Romance Writers) for the past two years.