Alessandra Torre has a winner with the Ghostwriter. The plot feels fresh, the writing is evocative and the characters, especially Helena Ross, quickly come into sharp focus. 4 stars.
The Ghostwriter occupies a sweet spot between women’s fiction and suspense. On the one hand, you’re trying to unravel the mystery. On the other, it’s a journey through what grief does to the human heart. In Helena’s case, grief has squeezed and squeezed and squeezed, and what’s left of her heart has dried into a bitter, angry little pit.
Told in alternating third person chapters between Helena and her ghostwriter, the premise is: Helena is a bestselling romance author with 15 books under her belt. She ditches a book she’s under contract for to tell one last story. Her agent, who she usually only communicates with through email, is at a loss. What’s more, to make sure she gets it done in a tight timeframe, Helena wants the help of a ghostwriter.
Helena is written so vividly I had to keep reminding myself she’s only 32. She’s blunt, emotionally distant and impatient. And she has a psychiatrist for a mother. In a very short time, her experiences turned her from quirky introvert into full blown recluse. Rooms in her house, both literally and figuratively, are locked up, just so she can survive. But all that matters is this book.
If you enjoyed the various “Girl” books, definitely pick up the Ghostwriter, then rejoice in the fact that we’re not dealing with an unreliable narrator. As the story unfolded, I kept looking for clues that Helena was remembering things as she wanted them to be, rather than how they were. Whatever Helena’s faults, her grief hasn’t totally colored her recollections. There’s enough of a rollercoaster here that I don’t think I could have survived learning it was all delusion.
Fave line: “It must be a cowboy thing, the ability to drag words along the ground and kick up emotional dust.”