“The story is hard to describe,” she told me in a hesitant voice. “There’s a man who comes to terms with his past, a magical romance, early-twentieth-century and medieval European history, and ghosts…it’s a wonderful book. The story is…different. If you want to read it, I’d like it back when you’re done.”
My spider sense went on high alert. Mom, a voracious reader, usually passes books on to relatives or friends after she reads them. If she wanted to keep this one, it had to be amazing! And the fact that the story didn’t fit easily into a fiction genre intrigued me.
I told her I definitely wanted to read it.
The story blew me away. Mom was right; this book defies classification – and it’s definitely a Keeper.
|THE WINTER GHOSTS|
Kate Mosse’s lyrical prose bookends Winter Ghosts as a mystery set in 1932 Paris in a rare book shop on the Street of Lost Souls. A young Englishman seeks out the proprietor, a man who can read the Old Language of the French Pyrenees. The young man wants him to translate an ancient letter. After closing up shop, the proprietor silently reads the first few lines, then offers the young man a deal. If the young man tells the proprietor the story of how he came by the letter, the older man will then translate the words for him. The Englishman agrees to his terms.
The proprietor pours the young man a drink, and the second layer of Story begins. (And yes, there are more layers within the layers.) The Englishman describes growing up in a family where he had been unplanned and unwanted, in the shadow of his much-older, accomplished brother. It had been his brother’s love and support that made his emotionally-bleak childhood bearable.
Then WWI broke out and the older boy enlisted in the British army. When his brother died, cannon fodder on a French battlefield, the fifteen-year-old younger brother was caught in a place between what was and what might have been. He often felt his brother’s presence and caught glimpses of him out of the corner of his eye. The boy held it together until his twenty-first birthday. He had reached the age his brother had been when he was killed. The young Englishman had a mental breakdown.
He spent years heavily medicated in a sanitarium, talking to his brother’s ghost. When he was at last released, he was not completely healed. He couldn’t hold a job or fall in love. Finally, someone talked him into taking a road trip through the French Pyrenees in December ‘to clear the cobwebs.’ His car breaks down on a back road in the snow-covered mountains just before Christmas, and the next layer of Story unfolds.
All the book’s characters are masterfully drawn. The protagonist will win your heart.
I don’t want to spoil the romance for you, or the Christmas ghost story, or the mysteries contained in the layers of the book. Suffice it to say, this is a story of love and redemption that will touch you and change you and give you hope.
Give yourself a gift this holiday season. Read The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse.
Happy Reading! ~ Sarah Raplee