Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Ghost Orchid

So, while some people were out enjoying the sunshine we had here over the weekend, others (namely me) we inside, devouring "The Ghost Orchid" by Carol Goodman.

I'm a huge fan of Carol's writing and enjoyed her other three books ("The Lake of Dead Langauges", "Seduction of Water" and "The Drowning Tree") as well. I remember reading something earlier in the year about her newest novel, but of course forgot about it until recently when Colleen mentioned reviewing it. I stopped reading her post immediately and went and put it on hold.

This novel is set a bit differently from her previous three, in that this one is actually a ghost story and the story goes back and forth between the present time and the past.

We start out with Ellis Brooks (present), a novelist who is setting her first novel at Bosco in 1893, during Corinth's visit. She's part of a group of artists who were invited to stay at Bosco, which is now an artist's colony. Also there are Nat Loomis (never Nathanial), another novelist, Bethesda Graham (never Beth), (who's friends with Nat) who's writing a biography about Aurora, Zalman Bronsky, a poet, and landscape architect David Fox, who's actually there on behalf of the Garden Conservancy, investigating whether or not the gardens can be saved. There's also Diana Tate, the director of the program, and her younger neice Daria, who's spending her summer there.

Meanwhile, we have Corinth Blackwell (past), a spiritual medium, who is coming to Bosco at the request of Milo and Aurora Latham, do perform a seance so that Aurora can say good bye to the children who died. Just like Ellis, she's not the only one there either; there is a painter (who seems to have a thing for Aurora), a romance novelist (who knows some of Corinth's secrets) and her assistant/lover Thomas Quinn, who just happens to be Corinth's former lover and a magician. There's also Mrs. Norris, the housekeeper for the Lathams, who knows both Corinth and the Latham's secrets.

As the story progresses, we see how events from Ellis and Corinth's pasts are affecting their presents, as well as how the events of that summer actually unfolded. Corinth ends up uncovering more than she ever suspected, including the fate of her own child, while Ellis and the other guests end up unlocking the secrets that Bosco had, their own histories, how each of them is tied together and what actually happened in 1839. (At least, what she thinks actually happened; the ending can be read in one of two ways.) And as I said, it's also a ghost story, with mysterious voices, handprints, and someone being possesed.

The author did a Q&A for/with Random House, where she talks a bit about what led her to this story, as well as some details about the upcoming one, which I'm looking forward to.


Danielle said...

I recently read this one as well. I am a fan of her books, and while I think her earlier ones were a tad bit better, I did enjoy this one, too. I will have to check out the interview for a peek at her next one. Thanks for the heads up!

Heather said...

I agree, her earlier books, especially "The Lake of Dead Languages", were better, but this was still a good one. I'd love to have the chance to read through her notes sometime, or a more indepth interview. She really puts a lot of interesting things into her stories.

Colleen said...

I"m reviewing this one for Bookslut next month - it certainly was a "keep you one the edge of your seat" kind of read, wasn't it?