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Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10) Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017 The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin. After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10) Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017 The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin. After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation. The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda. Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.


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Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10) Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017 The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin. After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10) Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017 The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin. After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation. The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda. Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.

30 review for Grief Cottage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    Let's face it. No matter what anyone else says about a book, whether it's a reviewer, a teacher, or even the author, for the most part, by the very nature of the intimate experience that reading is, the person reading the book is sole judge and jury of what the story means to them. I loved that Gail Godwin in her note which begins "Dear Reader" and ends with "I'll let you be the judge", leaves it up to us whether we think it is a ghost story or not. Eleven year old Marcus Harshaw believes he's se Let's face it. No matter what anyone else says about a book, whether it's a reviewer, a teacher, or even the author, for the most part, by the very nature of the intimate experience that reading is, the person reading the book is sole judge and jury of what the story means to them. I loved that Gail Godwin in her note which begins "Dear Reader" and ends with "I'll let you be the judge", leaves it up to us whether we think it is a ghost story or not. Eleven year old Marcus Harshaw believes he's seen a ghost, the ghost of a young boy who died in Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and lived in what is now called Grief Cottage. He has come to live with his mother's recluse Aunt Charlotte in South Carolina after his mother dies in a car accident. I love child narrators and Marcus is as precocious as they come - observant, smart, sensitive in ways older than his eleven years. It's sometimes hard to believe he's eleven. At first, I didn't detect his grief when he talks about his mother's death and his time in a foster home . It wasn't until he comes to live with Aunt Charlotte that it becomes so clear how much he is grieving . My heart ached when he sees a mother and a toddler on the beach and he says " it wrenched my heart." There were times when I was reminded of Theo in The Goldfinch who was as full of sadness, impressionable and vulnerable as Marcus. Even before Marcus comes to the island and discovers the Grief Cottage, he's had a hard time in his young life trying to fit in, never knowing his father, and although he has a loving relationship with his mother, they seem to be eking out an existence barely making ends meet. His mother is always with him , not the ghost he sees, but his memories of her - what she would have said or done guiding him as he goes along. This is somewhat of a slow read as the plot line is not full of action and I won't give details here. However, I found this to be beautifully written , as you might expect from Godwin and full of characters that I loved . My favorite is Lachicotte, friend of Aunt Charlotte who always knows what to do . I loved Coral the ninety five year old neighbor grieving the loss of her son and befriending Marcus and yes Aunt Charlotte who in spite of her drinking and grief over a horrible childhood, loves and cares for Marcus. So is it a ghost story? For me it was the grief that was held in the hearts and souls of the characters and not necessarily the ghost in the Grief Cottage that haunted the characters. I'll just stick with what Godwin says , "I'll let you be the judge." I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury USA through NetGalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is a hauntingly profound and moving novel that meditates on the spaces between life and death. 11 year old Marcus's life falls apart when his mother dies. He and his mother were so close, and her circumstances meant that Marcus was in a very grown up place, taking care of her and their home, struggling to make ends meet. The lonely, adrift Marcus never knew his father and eventually ends up living on a South Carolina island with his crabby Aunt Charlotte, a woman who values her privacy and This is a hauntingly profound and moving novel that meditates on the spaces between life and death. 11 year old Marcus's life falls apart when his mother dies. He and his mother were so close, and her circumstances meant that Marcus was in a very grown up place, taking care of her and their home, struggling to make ends meet. The lonely, adrift Marcus never knew his father and eventually ends up living on a South Carolina island with his crabby Aunt Charlotte, a woman who values her privacy and has her own emotionally damaging issues. She is obsessed with a cottage in ruins, known locally as Grief Cottage, which inspired her to become a painter as she searches to depict its spirit of utter devastation that parallels her own life experiences and childhood. This is a novel of spiritual ghosts, loss, grief, secrets, haunting memories, acceptance, redemption and survival. Grief Cottage has a tragic history that Marcus comes to be aware of. In 1954, after a terrifying hurricane, the parents and a boy were discovered to have disappeared from the cottage. Uncertain in his new home and unsure whether his aunt wants him, Marcus takes on the responsibility of keeping the home in order whilst his aunt works in the studio. He spends his time outdoors to minimise his impact on her life and becomes enthralled with nature. He finds himself gravitating to Grief Cottage on a regular basis, despite the dangers that it poses, and sees the ghost of the boy. Marcus is an intelligent, sensitive, independent and inquisitive boy steeped in grief, as indeed is his aunt, and both are loners. He finds comfort in the ghost of the dead boy, this intimate knowledge of death and life allows him to endure and survive. He becomes close to his aunt learning of her trauma and family history, and adapting to his new life. Eventually a mystery comes to be resolved. Gail Godwin writes beautifully, tenderly and atmospherically, on death and grief, topics that society oft deals with awkwardly, with discomfort and even insensitively on occasion. She gives us a great sense of location in her descriptions of the island and its people. The book is steeped in the rhythms of nature, the circle of life and death, such as with the turtles. The character development is superb and I liked the capable Laciotte and the elderly Coral who Marcus becomes close to. It is the grief of the characters that predominates and it is symbolised by Grief Cottage. I loved this low key, slow moving, thoughtful and insightful novel that I found myself completely immersed in. Highly recommended. Thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 A very slow paced book which took me a bit to become fully engaged. Two things kept me reading. The first was the beautiful writing, Godwin is exceptional at her word usage, to create both atmosphere and her characters. The second was the character of Marcus, only eleven when he lost his mother and sent to live with a reclusive artist, who is his great aunt. He is just so likable, responsible beyond his years and yet still full of curiosity and wonder. It was though, his character that prese 3.5 A very slow paced book which took me a bit to become fully engaged. Two things kept me reading. The first was the beautiful writing, Godwin is exceptional at her word usage, to create both atmosphere and her characters. The second was the character of Marcus, only eleven when he lost his mother and sent to live with a reclusive artist, who is his great aunt. He is just so likable, responsible beyond his years and yet still full of curiosity and wonder. It was though, his character that presented me with another hurdle to overcome. Could an eleven year old be this mature sounding in this thoughts and reasoning.i decided that he could given that his mom worked so hard and he did his best to take care of her, and took care of many things in their home to make things easier for her. The setting is fantastic as well, a beach cottage on the ocean with a derelict cottage at the end of the strip. This is the grief cottage, named so because three residents, one a teenage boy were lost in a hurricane, fifty years before, bodies never found.Ghosts, real and the ghosts we carry inside, from previous hurts, our childhoods and how we use what we can to move forward and expel them. Families, we sometimes need to make, and sometimes these can turn out wonderful. So this is loosely an actual ghost story but goes much deeper. Was quite engaged by books end and loved watching Marcus come to terms with his new life, though a surprise when he is older, a reconnection Wil provide him with an answer to a mystery from his old. ARC from Netgalley. Published June 6th by Bloomsbury.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I really loved Marcus, an 11 yr old very bright boy. He is being raised by his mother and they are not well off, one night she goes out to get them pizza and dies from a car wreck. He then goes to live with his great aunt Charlotte who becomes his guardian, at a beach cottage in South Carolina. There is a neighboring cottage that was rented by a family 50 yrs earlier during a hurricane and none of that family has ever been found. Hence the name, Grief Cottage. Marcus has seen the ghost of the son I really loved Marcus, an 11 yr old very bright boy. He is being raised by his mother and they are not well off, one night she goes out to get them pizza and dies from a car wreck. He then goes to live with his great aunt Charlotte who becomes his guardian, at a beach cottage in South Carolina. There is a neighboring cottage that was rented by a family 50 yrs earlier during a hurricane and none of that family has ever been found. Hence the name, Grief Cottage. Marcus has seen the ghost of the son of that family during a visit to that rundown cottage and it consumes him for awhile. There are many really good characters in this story and some really touching moments, but the book just moved very slow for me. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing, Netgalley, and author Gail Godwin for the advanced digital book!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is a wonderful meditation of grief and loss but also on family and human connection. I absolutely adored this very slow-moving, character focussed novel - but I thought the ending fizzled out and focussed different aspects than I would have liked. This book follows Marcus, who after just having lost his mother moves to live with his great-aunt Charlotte. She is a bit of a hermit, earning her money painting pictures of the island she lives on and avoiding human interaction as much as possible This is a wonderful meditation of grief and loss but also on family and human connection. I absolutely adored this very slow-moving, character focussed novel - but I thought the ending fizzled out and focussed different aspects than I would have liked. This book follows Marcus, who after just having lost his mother moves to live with his great-aunt Charlotte. She is a bit of a hermit, earning her money painting pictures of the island she lives on and avoiding human interaction as much as possible and has to drastically alter her life to accommodate having an 11-year-old boy live with her. Marcus becomes obsessed with an old house and its history - especially with the history of the boy who lost his life there whose body was never found and whose ghost he starts to see and converse with. Marcus and Charlotte circle each other, both unsure what to make of the other and of the way their lives have changed; both are not particulary articulated, they are closed off and try to solve their problems on their own. They do not know how to help each other, but they try anyways. I love the human connection that is at the core of this novel and I adore the personification of it by the way of Lachicotte - a wonderful character with so much empathy and love The story unfolds very very slowly and carefully, moving in circles much in the same way Marcus' thoughts move in circles around the unbelievable fact of his mother's death. Gail Godwin creates a mesmerizing picture of a place and of a feeling where the roughness of nature mirrors Marcus' loss in an absolutely spell-binding way. First (two) sentence(s): "Once there was a boy who lost his mother. He was eleven years, five months, four days - and would never know how many hours and minutes." ____ I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Joint

    This is a solid piece of what I'd consider literary fiction. I've come to realise it's a genre I can really enjoy when I'm in the right mood to really immerse myself in a slow, atmospheric read that'll make you think. No doubt about it: this is a slow book that concentrates on the reader really getting to know the characters. It's very beautifully written and intelligent. It's not a long book, but read right it might take a little while to get through it. Absolutely not your typical ghost story, This is a solid piece of what I'd consider literary fiction. I've come to realise it's a genre I can really enjoy when I'm in the right mood to really immerse myself in a slow, atmospheric read that'll make you think. No doubt about it: this is a slow book that concentrates on the reader really getting to know the characters. It's very beautifully written and intelligent. It's not a long book, but read right it might take a little while to get through it. Absolutely not your typical ghost story, so don't go into it expecting many chills and thrills. (There are a couple of moments that gave me chills, but that's not the focus of the story.) Marcus is now an orphan. He never knew his father, and now his mother has been killed in an accident. It's sudden and brutal, leaving eleven year old Marcus at a loss. His mother was who he was closest to, enough so that he even faced some ribbing from his best friend about it. They were united, forging ahead though a life full of money troubles and crazy landladies. Now he's alone. Of course, he can't stay that way. He's soon entrusted into the care of his great aunt, an artist who lives on an island and enjoys a life of self-induced seclusion. She doesn't seem to enjoy other people as much as she enjoys wine and painting. Luckily for her, Marcus isn't your average eleven year old boy. He's very intelligent, respectful, tidy, and well-spoken. He's also capable of amusing himself, which is for the best as he and his aunt only share a meal a day with her painting alone most of the rest of the time, and school hasn't started yet. Made curious by a cottage that often features in her paintings, he launches a little investigation into what the locals call the "Grief Cottage". Two adults and a boy a few years older than Marcus disappeared from there during a hurricane fifty years ago. They're assumed washed away, a mere footnote without names in the town's history. Dealing with grief of his own, Marcus is drawn to the ramshackle place. Convinced he can feel a presence there, he returns to it again and again and even becomes convinced he's actually seen the ghost of that forgotten boy. This book is full of memorable characters, including Marcus and Charlotte and unlikely friends the boy makes. Towards the beginning of the book, he recalls something as how it was when he was a child. At only eleven, he is still very much a child. However, he speaks and acts far beyond his years so it makes sense that he would connect more with people far older than him. I have read quite a few three star reviews of this one, but it was very close to a five star read for me. I'm not sure if it just spoke to me more, or if it wasn't what those other readers were expecting. My final rating is a 4.5, rounded up. It's not the kind of book everyone will enjoy, but if you're in the right mood and have patience for it, it's a fantastic read. I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Bloomsbury USA, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    3.5★ Coming of age and ghosts are not my favorite subjects in reading but the setting and writing here made this one a satisfying read. As is often the case, Marcus is not like any eleven year old I know. I often wonder if kids of this age really think as deeply as these stories suggest. When he comes to live with his great aunt Charlotte following the tragic death of his mother he is not the only one feeling loss, alienation, hopelessness, and grief. We have all had to come through that transiti 3.5★ Coming of age and ghosts are not my favorite subjects in reading but the setting and writing here made this one a satisfying read. As is often the case, Marcus is not like any eleven year old I know. I often wonder if kids of this age really think as deeply as these stories suggest. When he comes to live with his great aunt Charlotte following the tragic death of his mother he is not the only one feeling loss, alienation, hopelessness, and grief. We have all had to come through that transitional time in life so these stories of self-discovery and maturation strike a chord and can be easy to relate to. In a brief introduction the author lets the reader know that she is “drawn to those crossover places in ghost stories and novels: the hair-thin junctions between sanity as we understand it and what we call the other side.” In this book there is a ghost who is a full-fledged character with an identity. With a less capable author this could have been precarious but in my opinion she was successful in pulling it off. There was atmosphere, mystery, suppression, and revelation in this well told tale complete with a satisfying denouement. Thanks to NetGalley & Bloomsbury for this galley.

  8. 5 out of 5

    lark benobi

    Sweet, slow, gentle, charming, preposterously sentimental--which for me was a good thing, a marvelous thing, because it allowed me to enter the heart of the child in this novel without worry, and to experience the world his way. I absolutely loved reading this novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    In 1954, Hurricane Hazel struck the Atlantic coast, leaving scores dead in its wake. Among the casualties was a family of three: mother, father, and their teenaged son, who simply vanished. The last place the family had been seen alive was a small cottage at the end of a beach on the South Carolina coast. In the years that followed, the cottage, abandoned and falling into disrepair, grew in reputation, even as it diminished in structure. Grief Cottage, it came to be known. Haunted, perhaps, by a In 1954, Hurricane Hazel struck the Atlantic coast, leaving scores dead in its wake. Among the casualties was a family of three: mother, father, and their teenaged son, who simply vanished. The last place the family had been seen alive was a small cottage at the end of a beach on the South Carolina coast. In the years that followed, the cottage, abandoned and falling into disrepair, grew in reputation, even as it diminished in structure. Grief Cottage, it came to be known. Haunted, perhaps, by a life not fully realized, seeking purchase in the known world. Not far away from Grief Cottage is another cottage inhabited by two survivors of emotional storms. There are ghosts here, as well—psychological ghosts of loss and grief and disappointment. In her latest novel, Grief Cottage, Gail Godwin gently moves the reader from bewilderment and despair into redemption and acceptance. After the death of his mother, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live with his middle-aged aunt Charlotte, a cranky recluse who paints coastal landscapes and seems to subsist on yogurt and red wine. They are both misfits—a little weird and withdrawn, harboring terrible secrets about past hurts—and it's this shared discomfort with the world that binds them. Godwin approaches the paranormal with a matter-of-fact acceptance and imbues Marcus with this same sensibility. His initial trepidation encountering the ghost at Grief Cottage quickly becomes quiet curiosity and companionship. Marcus leads the story with his old shoe soul, accepting his mother's death, the mystery of his father's identity, and the loss of his best friend, Wheezer, with tender resignation. He accepts the closed door of his aunt's studio with the same world-weary sigh and goes about tidying the house each morning before leaving to explore the small word of this remote South Carolina beach. In his own sweetly longing way, he befriends several local characters and fits together, piece by piece, the mystery of the disappeared boy who haunts the cottage that the ocean is trying to reclaim. Grief Cottage is a deeply moving book, all the more powerful for its quiet spaces and the determined dignity of its characters who knit themselves tightly into your heart. Her surety with children, with grief and heartache, is breathtaking. It is heartening that space is made for "quiet" novels, those without the bells and whistles of plot twists. We need books that show us the way through what we all have in common- loss, grief, mistakes- to peace and atonement. My thanks to Bloomsbury for providing an ARC and the request to provide a review if I so chose.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Grief Cottage is a story about just that and more. There is, in fact, a ruined cottage that has been so-named by the local residents because of its condition and lives lost there during Hurricane Hazel 50 years ago. But this cottage seems to also reflect, or perhaps embody, various stages of life's grief lived by some residents of nearby dwellings. The most obvious is Marcus. The tale initially combines this smart eleven year old boy boy, recovering from the loss of his mother and having a somew Grief Cottage is a story about just that and more. There is, in fact, a ruined cottage that has been so-named by the local residents because of its condition and lives lost there during Hurricane Hazel 50 years ago. But this cottage seems to also reflect, or perhaps embody, various stages of life's grief lived by some residents of nearby dwellings. The most obvious is Marcus. The tale initially combines this smart eleven year old boy boy, recovering from the loss of his mother and having a somewhat troubled past, with a great aunt who has lived for years as a loner...not totally anti-social, but set in her ways. Both are feeling the other out to find the true lay of the land in this South Carolina seashore cottage. The boy seems intelligent beyond his years, perhaps from time always with adults. This is a different book, life seen through the eyes of an eleven year old boy who has lost his only anchor to the world. Basically he is a good boy, but confused by loss, emotion and his new place in the universe, living with his only relative, an Aunt (great aunt at that) who seems ambiguous about his presence. This is Aunt Charlotte who takes him in at her beach cottage. She is a different kind of solitary, a woman with her own emotional issues that haven't been resolved. The book is their relationship....and more. Is this a ghost story? What did Marcus experience in Grief Cottage? Answers might vary with readers. I appreciate how Godwin handled the story. And I really liked the secondary characters as they became new parts of Marcus' life--including the turtles! At times I wondered about Marcus' voice/thoughts relative to his age but, by the end of the book, I believed. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Connie G

    Eleven-year-old Marcus is orphaned when his mother dies in a car accident, and his great-aunt Charlotte is appointed his guardian. Charlotte is a reclusive artist who lives in a beach cottage on a South Carolina island. Marcus is curious, exceptionally intelligent, and willing to help out around the house so he will not wear out his welcome. Charlotte shuts herself up painting in her studio all day, fueled with bottles of red wine, so Marcus has a lot of time on his hands for exploring the beach Eleven-year-old Marcus is orphaned when his mother dies in a car accident, and his great-aunt Charlotte is appointed his guardian. Charlotte is a reclusive artist who lives in a beach cottage on a South Carolina island. Marcus is curious, exceptionally intelligent, and willing to help out around the house so he will not wear out his welcome. Charlotte shuts herself up painting in her studio all day, fueled with bottles of red wine, so Marcus has a lot of time on his hands for exploring the beach. Hurricane Hazel roared through the South Carolina coast in 1954. Three family members staying at the old cottage at the end of the beach vanished during the storm. The cottage soon fell into disrepair, and the beach people called it "Grief Cottage". When Marcus explores the property, he feels a strange connection and thinks he sees the ghost of the boy who had been swept away by the hurricane fifty years earlier. One wonders if Marcus is more emotionally available to the paranormal since he is overcome with grief and other losses. He stops by the "Grief Cottage" every day to try to make another connection to the ghost boy. Marcus devotes his summer to learning more about the history of the abandoned house and the hurricane victims. This is much more than a ghost story since there are many other interesting, complex characters that offer friendship to Marcus. Some of the supporting characters are also dealing with their own deep emotional issues that are slowly revealed. The story is about loss, grief, love, and making connections. Readers who like character-driven literary fiction will find this to be an especially rewarding story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Great story, great characters, especially Marcus and Lachicotte, wonderful, atmospheric lowcountry setting, but somehow I could just never connect deeply with this novel. I also felt that the ending was rushed and a little contrived.

  13. 5 out of 5

    jo

    this book starts, inappropriately, low key, and stays low key for a significant amount of time. it's inappropriate. it's perfect. an eleven-year-old loses his mom, and only parent, in a freak car accident, wholly unexpectedly. this lands him in foster care for a year, after which a proper guardian is found in a great aunt who lives on an island off the coast of north carolina. this is all taken care of by godwin in a few pages, no big deal. the kid settles easily in his new life. he knows how to this book starts, inappropriately, low key, and stays low key for a significant amount of time. it's inappropriate. it's perfect. an eleven-year-old loses his mom, and only parent, in a freak car accident, wholly unexpectedly. this lands him in foster care for a year, after which a proper guardian is found in a great aunt who lives on an island off the coast of north carolina. this is all taken care of by godwin in a few pages, no big deal. the kid settles easily in his new life. he knows how to stay out of the way, he is preternaturally good at making himself useful with housecleaning, he leaves his crotchety, used-to-living-on-her-own aunt be, he takes care of himself. in fact, he and his aunt quickly settle into a comfortable routine. the boy gets up early in the morning before the tourists descend on the beach the aunt's cottage abuts, makes his bed, makes himself breakfast, then get out and walks or bikes to a ruined, abandoned cottage some ways north on the island (the eponymous grief cottage, thus named because of reasons that play a key role in the novel), where he spends a few hours sitting on the porch. he comes back, has lunch, does chores (he seems determined to do laundry every day), then sits with the protected turtle eggs that happen to be buried in the sand just in front of his aunt's cottage (he calls this his mediation time). finally, he has dinner with his aunt, then goes to bed and reads. wash, rinse, repeat. the quiet rhythm of marcus's days is matched by the quiet rhythm of life on the island, where all the locals know and look after each other and seem to have developed the ability not to see the invading, distasteful tourists. it is also matched, on a much larger, much grander scale, by the multi-million-year process of egg-laying, hatching, running into the ocean without being eaten by birds and other predators, and surviving extinction in which the loggerhead turtles who live on the island engage. we hear a lot about these turtles, which is nice. the most important thing that we learn is that they have been around and doing their thing for forty million years, compared to the mere two hundred thousand years of the humans who have driven them to extinction. the rhythm of life and death is one of the central themes of the novel. another one is what is visible and what is invisible. the tourists who come and conduct their rowdy life on this multi-million-year old beach are just as invisible to the locals as the grief of multiple losses is invisible to marcus, who delves into routine and appears to be the best adjusted kid on the planet -- including all those kids who have not lost their sole parent to sudden tragedy. but death comes up just about all the time. marcus's memories of his life with his mother are rife with death. one of their most typical walks, in the mountains of north carolina, was in cemeteries. one of their typical conversations was the kind of funeral they wanted. they lived in poverty and under great duress, and his mother was always exhausted from overwork. they loved each other very much -- had in fact a relationship that sounds absolutely wonderful -- yet marcus hardly ever talks about missing her. i'll put the rest under spoiler tags because you might not want to read it if you haven't read the novel yet, though i will not give major spoilers, just interpretive spoilers that foreshadow big spoilers. (view spoiler)[in fact, death and violence are present in marcus's highly regimented life just below the surface. his fascination with the dead boy and the dead family that were swept away by hurricane hazel in the fifties is of course the prime example. the dead boy's ghost, a masterful literary creation in its aptness and the role it plays in this novel about surviving grief, is marcus's best friend because he's dead, and knows death, and died in a terrible, terrible way. the turtles that are so tremendously fascinating to marcus are also pretty much doomed. some will survive the hatching, but most will simply die. not only that, but they have been driven to a meager number by reckless and stupid humans. marcus most pointedly does not hang out nor does he seek other kids. in fact, he dreads them. he loves the lonely island life, his developing and browning body, the company of his disturbed but loving aunt, the companionship of the adults who surround her. in fact, there is really only one adult in aunt charlotte's life, lachicotte hayes. everyone is loving, but everyone is also damaged -- just like marcus. both charlotte and lachicotte cannot sustain intimacy and closeness. they are loners who relate to life through objects and can connect to marcus because, just like the turtles, the paintings (charlotte's objects), and the cars (lachicotte's objects), he is different from them (he's a child) and therefore undemanding of things they are unable to give. death and injury are all over the novel, and marcus skates around them while anchoring himself in fantasies of survival, the most noticeable representative of which is the ghost boy (ghosts are survivors by definition). but grief does catch up with him, because it has to, because no one can live unless they face death, and through marcus's reconnoitering with grief some healing comes to everyone. (hide spoiler)] this is my first novel by gail godwin, i am ashamed to say. i think that, at the end of the year, it will show up in many best-of-2017 lists, and probably will be at least on the long list of the Tournament of Books. writers who have been writing this long and are this talented acquire a crazy good ability to strip the human heart to its simplest, most basic story-telling power. their novels are unflashy but tremendously deep, and this depth penetrates the mind of the reader and brings beauty and love and nourishment. i have not enough words to say about how much i admire this. (thank you to netgalley and bloomsbury for the free ebook)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I hate when this happens. This story started out really well and it had potential to mean something for me, then it fizzed out and left me feeling somehow cheated. I liked the characters of Marcus and Lachicotte, and I was even okay with the presence/or not of the ghost boy. Underlying everything was a deeper question of how people handle loss and memory, how an eleven year old might deal with coming face-to-face with the mortality of everyone he loves, and how he might rebuild a life when every I hate when this happens. This story started out really well and it had potential to mean something for me, then it fizzed out and left me feeling somehow cheated. I liked the characters of Marcus and Lachicotte, and I was even okay with the presence/or not of the ghost boy. Underlying everything was a deeper question of how people handle loss and memory, how an eleven year old might deal with coming face-to-face with the mortality of everyone he loves, and how he might rebuild a life when everything he has ever known is stripped from him instantaneously. Unfortunately, for me there was just a disconnect that I never managed to bridge. There were several aspects of this novel that were trite and oh so predictable. I could list them, but that would be difficult to do without giving away much of the novel’s plot. Suffice it to say, I was not surprised by much, and in this kind of novel I would like a surprise or two. There were, as well, a couple of things that the author chose to do style-wise that irritated me. She was at her best describing the landscape and when she was just allowing the story to unfold and wasn’t at pains to interpret the action for us. I would have liked to have loved this, but sadly I did not. No more Godwin’s for me, but not a problem because I already have a list of authors a mile long that I need to get to.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This is a pretty standard beach read, set on a fictional tiny island off the coast of South Carolina, which the author based on Isle of Palms and Pawley's Island. A young boy moves in with his great-aunt after the death of his mother, where he has a lot of time to himself, and he grows curious about the cottage at the other end of the beach. It might be a ghost story, it might be a coming of age story. It's a quick read, but I'm perplexed at its inclusion in the Tournament of Books, which I assoc This is a pretty standard beach read, set on a fictional tiny island off the coast of South Carolina, which the author based on Isle of Palms and Pawley's Island. A young boy moves in with his great-aunt after the death of his mother, where he has a lot of time to himself, and he grows curious about the cottage at the other end of the beach. It might be a ghost story, it might be a coming of age story. It's a quick read, but I'm perplexed at its inclusion in the Tournament of Books, which I associate more with literary fiction. One annoyance was the number of times the author chose to put the southern dialect pronunciation of a word in parentheses after the person spoke the word in a sentence. Anyone who has been to South Carolina knows the accent, and probably has enough imagination not to need that provided when it isn't written as the words. I realize this might not bug anyone else but I grew frustrated.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    “I’ve been spending a lot of time with this boy. He’s a little older than me, fourteen, and he’s been dead for fifty years.” I found the most compelling part of the story is that which directly related to the ‘ghost boy’ who occupies a vacant beach house, a boy who disappeared years ago during a hurricane, along with his parents. Marcus, a boy wise beyond his 11 years, has come to live with his great aunt after the death of his mother. I liked Marcus’s character, his spunk and his curious nature. “I’ve been spending a lot of time with this boy. He’s a little older than me, fourteen, and he’s been dead for fifty years.” I found the most compelling part of the story is that which directly related to the ‘ghost boy’ who occupies a vacant beach house, a boy who disappeared years ago during a hurricane, along with his parents. Marcus, a boy wise beyond his 11 years, has come to live with his great aunt after the death of his mother. I liked Marcus’s character, his spunk and his curious nature. After learning the tragic history of the derelict house named “Grief Cottage”, Marcus’ curiosity gets the best of him. Each day as he pedals his bicycle to the spooky house, feeling the pull of this house and the presence of its’ resident ‘ghost boy’, his courage strengthening, I perked up. I looked forward to the evolving interactions between the two boys. Unfortunately, it started to wear thin around 55% into the book, too slow of a simmer and I found that nearing the end I just didn’t care anymore. Despite moments of intrigue, I felt there were too many superfluous bits that l couldn’t make sense of or understand how they fit into the plot. Thanks to Bloomsbury for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    When 11 year old Marcus loses his mom in a car accident, he must go to live with his only living relative, his Great-Aunt Charlotte. Charlotte is used to living a solitary life as a painter at her beach house but she loves & appreciates Marcus in her own way. However, Marcus has free reign on his summer days while Charlotte paints and because of this he becomes obsessed with Grief Cottage. Named this because in the 50’s there was a hurricane & the parents and child were killed. Marcus becomes co When 11 year old Marcus loses his mom in a car accident, he must go to live with his only living relative, his Great-Aunt Charlotte. Charlotte is used to living a solitary life as a painter at her beach house but she loves & appreciates Marcus in her own way. However, Marcus has free reign on his summer days while Charlotte paints and because of this he becomes obsessed with Grief Cottage. Named this because in the 50’s there was a hurricane & the parents and child were killed. Marcus becomes consumed by what happened and treats it as mystery that needs to be solved. While he does this he befriends only adults, Charlotte’s old friend Lash, Miss Coral, and Ed. I loved that Marcus was a smart thoughtful child who has been through a lot in his 11 years. Perhaps missing that childish wonder of childhood. This could be part ghost story or part coming of age....or all of them. I love Gail’s quiet writing style—I know it’s not for everyone but I enjoy reading her books. “Not everybody gets to grow up. First you have to survive your childhood, and then begins the hard work of growing into it.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I almost didn't read this novel because of its title - I thought it would be a tough, sad read. The novel is about grief but is not "heavy." I didn't want to put it down. Godwin writes beautifully about an eleven-year-old precocious boy who just lost his mother and has moved to his great aunt's beach cottage. I fell in love with Marcus and was riveted by his summer of self-discovery. I almost didn't read this novel because of its title - I thought it would be a tough, sad read. The novel is about grief but is not "heavy." I didn't want to put it down. Godwin writes beautifully about an eleven-year-old precocious boy who just lost his mother and has moved to his great aunt's beach cottage. I fell in love with Marcus and was riveted by his summer of self-discovery.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Grief Cottage is a gorgeous little book. Not only does Godwind deliver her usual beautiful use of language but the main character, eleven year old Marcus who goes to live on an island off the coast of the mid Atlantic with his great aunt, is a surprisingly mature child. In fact he'd be considered more on top of things compared to adults. The question is whether he's harming himself by superimposing such emotional maturity. This might sound hard to believe but Godwin's portrayal is dead on. Even Grief Cottage is a gorgeous little book. Not only does Godwind deliver her usual beautiful use of language but the main character, eleven year old Marcus who goes to live on an island off the coast of the mid Atlantic with his great aunt, is a surprisingly mature child. In fact he'd be considered more on top of things compared to adults. The question is whether he's harming himself by superimposing such emotional maturity. This might sound hard to believe but Godwin's portrayal is dead on. Even the supernatural elements make sense. You'll see the ending early on but since it's beside the point it won't harm your enjoyment of the book. I was reminded a little of Grief Cottage is a gorgeous little book. Not only does Godwind deliver her usual beautiful use of language but the main character, eleven year old Marcus who goes to live on an island off the coast of the mid Atlantic with his great aunt, is a surprisingly mature child. In fact he'd be considered more on top of things compared to adults. The question is whether he's harming himself by superimposing such emotional maturity. This might sound hard to believe but Godwin's portrayal is dead on. Even the supernatural elements make sense. You'll see the ending early on but since it's beside the point it won't harm your enjoyment of the book. I was reminded a little of Annie Dillard in how Godwin describes the island setting and at a time when it seems like authors go out of their way to come up with unlikeable characters you'll fall in love with these folks. I believe the last Godwin book I read was Flora and I enjoyed but Grief was even better though it deals with grim issues Godwin does so with a matter of fact way which eliminates lots of the cringe factor. There's no false over emotionality. Death is hard to deal with no matter deals with it and where or when. Loss changes your life. Thank you to the publisher for providing an e-copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    I received a copy from Bloomsbury (off of NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not persuade my true opinion of the book. Well, that was disappointing! Grief Cottage has an interesting premise, so I was really exited to start the book as soon as I received it (the cover is beautiful, too!). Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned into unease. You see, the writing from the very beginning is just so...choppy and hard to get into. Which really takes away from the interesting I received a copy from Bloomsbury (off of NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not persuade my true opinion of the book. Well, that was disappointing! Grief Cottage has an interesting premise, so I was really exited to start the book as soon as I received it (the cover is beautiful, too!). Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned into unease. You see, the writing from the very beginning is just so...choppy and hard to get into. Which really takes away from the interesting story. Honestly, I was tempted to give a lower rating, but because I really enjoyed Marcus's journey and the story that was beneath the rather shaky writing, I bumped it up a star. And even though I may not have enjoyed this as much as I'd hoped to, it should still be given a chance - simply because of its heartfelt story. Thank you again to Bloomsbury, for giving me the opportunity to review this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    After his mother’s death, Marcus Harshaw goes to live with Aunt Charlotte. Marcus is eleven years old, but in manner and thinking he is much older. He has been used to keeping house and caring for his mother before she died in a car accident. As a result he is not your typical eleven year old but is wise beyond his years. Aunt Charlotte is actually his mother’s aunt. She lives on a small South Carolina Island, is a woman of few words who likes her privacy, painting and a certain amount of alcoho After his mother’s death, Marcus Harshaw goes to live with Aunt Charlotte. Marcus is eleven years old, but in manner and thinking he is much older. He has been used to keeping house and caring for his mother before she died in a car accident. As a result he is not your typical eleven year old but is wise beyond his years. Aunt Charlotte is actually his mother’s aunt. She lives on a small South Carolina Island, is a woman of few words who likes her privacy, painting and a certain amount of alcohol each day. The last thing Marcus wants is to be sent back to a foster home which he had been in since his mother’s death and before his aunt provided a home for him. Aunt Charlotte tells Marcus about Grief Cottage which she regularly captures in her art. It is called Grief Cottage because a boy and his parents disappeared there during a hurricane fifty years earlier. Marcus starts to visit the cottage and encounters the ghost of a boy. I am not usually a fan of ghost stories or coming of age stories. But this is Gail Godwin! I pounced on it as soon as I saw it on the library shelf and started reading before I got it out the door. The writing is beautiful. I suspect this woman could write a shopping list and make it sound interesting. There is a little repetition at times but I didn’t find it intrusive. This is a thoughtful book about grief and dealing with loss. It is also about love, friendship and the bonds that are often formed between people. It is about the circumstances that shape people and lead them to become the people they are. Marcus is a sweetie, despite his earlier angry episode with his friend Wheezer. Aunt Charlotte is eccentric and interesting and Lachicotte is an absolute gem. The setting is conveyed well and the cover does the book justice. I loved the ending. For me this is absolutely another five star read. I adored it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dannielle Insalaco

    A timely book about grief. I'm still processing . Ok. I think I can talk about this without crying. The book is a coming of age tale with a ghost thrown in and a mystery solved. The cast of characters are as real as you or I....with vices, delusions and giving up words of wisdom to this young boy. It moved me very deeply. A timely book about grief. I'm still processing . Ok. I think I can talk about this without crying. The book is a coming of age tale with a ghost thrown in and a mystery solved. The cast of characters are as real as you or I....with vices, delusions and giving up words of wisdom to this young boy. It moved me very deeply.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Lemon

    I absolutely loved this book! Gail Godwin has written a beautiful coming of age story. The majority of the story takes place on an island off of South Carolina , a beautiful and haunting location. Eleven year old Marcus' mother has died and he goes to live with his eccentric great-aunt Charlotte on a remote part of the island. Not far away from the great-aunt's cottage is an old ruined cottage called Grief Cottage where, as the story goes, a 14 year old boy had vanished during a hurricane. Marcu I absolutely loved this book! Gail Godwin has written a beautiful coming of age story. The majority of the story takes place on an island off of South Carolina , a beautiful and haunting location. Eleven year old Marcus' mother has died and he goes to live with his eccentric great-aunt Charlotte on a remote part of the island. Not far away from the great-aunt's cottage is an old ruined cottage called Grief Cottage where, as the story goes, a 14 year old boy had vanished during a hurricane. Marcus is drawn to Grief Cottage because he is so conflicted and still very much grieving. There are so many memorable scenes and so many pivotal characters that a review could go on for pages! One of the best and most moving scenes took place the night the turtles hatched. As a reader, I was completely there with Marcus. Some reviews suggest that this novel is slow and not much happens. I suppose this view can be valid if you want action-packed adventures of a supernatural thriller. But Grief Cottage is not that kind of novel. This is a slowly evolving inferior life mostly occurring in the mind of a rather disturbed 11 year old boy who is very intelligent. The way Gail Godwin weaves the environment and the characters together as Marcus slowly begins to unravel, falls literally to a scary rock bottom, and uses this all to define his life is nothing less than genius. Bravo and I give this novel five stars!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    Marcus Harshaw is eleven years old, but he has an old soul. He and his mother lived together in semi-poverty sharing a bedroom. An only child, he was studious and dependable. Serious and academically advanced, Marcus excelled at school and helped his Mum who worked several part-time jobs... that is until one night she went out to get them a pizza and died in an automobile accident. Afterward, Marcus spent a short while in foster care until he went to live with his great aunt Charlotte Lee who liv Marcus Harshaw is eleven years old, but he has an old soul. He and his mother lived together in semi-poverty sharing a bedroom. An only child, he was studious and dependable. Serious and academically advanced, Marcus excelled at school and helped his Mum who worked several part-time jobs... that is until one night she went out to get them a pizza and died in an automobile accident. Afterward, Marcus spent a short while in foster care until he went to live with his great aunt Charlotte Lee who lived on an island in South Carolina. An island three miles long and two-tenths of a mile wide. Charlotte is a laconic, solitary person. Some might say eccentric. She is his grandmother's sister - an artist - an alcoholic. She is unerringly kind to Marcus and keeps her three bottle a day wine drinking habit under 'control'.  Marcus, at eleven, is always cognizant of the fact that he was foisted upon her and that he is invading her precious solitude. She lives on the beach in an old cottage which she had renovated herself.  Now, she spends her time painting pictures of the local scenery to sell to well-heeled tourists and makes a good living with her art.  One subject of her paintings is an old, derelict cottage down at the other end of the beach, one the locals call "Grief Cottage". It is this cottage that inspired her to paint, and it is this cottage that Marcus is drawn to... Though Marcus thinks she is merely tolerating him, Charlotte grows very fond of him over time. "You're good company, Marcus. You listen and put things together." The book is mostly taken up with Marcus's first summer living with Aunt Charlotte.  An eleven year old boy reeling from the loss of his mother - suddenly living in an environment different to any he had known before.  The beach became his solace. He would take his new bike up to Grief Cottage for a daily pilgrimage to visit with what he called 'the ghost boy'. He talked to the loggerhead turtle eggs which were beneath the sand near his aunt's boardwalk to the beach. He did the grocery shopping, the laundry, and all the house cleaning for the reclusive Charlotte. He made the meals and visited with the nonagenarian next-door neighbor, Coral Upchurch. He painstakingly unpacked the boxes that were all he had left of his mother and his former life. He found his mother's GED textbooks and studied them thinking that if he could pass the GED he would be out from under Charlotte's feet and she might be proud of him.  The highlight of his summer was when the baby loggerheads 'boiled' up from under the sand and made their precarious trek to the ocean. Marcus fears that his introspective thoughts coupled with his 'seeing' of the ghost boy might make him lose his grip. He realizes he has always felt unwanted. "I needed to keep the different parts of myself in their proper places or I could go insane. Aunt Charlotte would be in her rights to send me to an institution." If I had a problem with anything in this novel it would be that I thought Marcus's character was too mature for his tender age of eleven.  His thoughts were so intelligent, empathetic and advanced...  He shouldered responsibilities that most eleven year-old boys would be completely unable to cope with. How many eleven year olds do you know who would 'worry' over the state of dirty bed linen? who would clean and disinfect the bathroom after a stranger had used it for an explosive bowel movement? The cover of this novel is perfect. Just as I imagined Aunt Charlotte would have painted it. The setting highly resonated with me as just this past March my husband and I drove down to South Carolina and visited some islands there, making the scenery accurately vivid in my mind. It reminded me of the history of the use of 'Gullah-blue' or 'Haint blue' paint used to ward off evil spirits in South Carolina. I loved that the book mentions "Brookgreen Gardens" which we visited and loved. The book even mentioned my favorite brand of tea, Typhoo. "Grief Cottage" is a memorable novel that explores the concepts of memory, grief, and of loss. Slow paced, yet insightful and sensitive, the novel is highly recommended to anyone who likes to read atmospheric literary fiction. Sincere thanks to Bloomsbury USA who provided me with a digital copy of this novel via NetGalley.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Characters inner ruins lay concealed, their grief diverted by obsessions and addictions, in Gail Godwin's novel Grief Cottage. After the death of his single mother, eleven-year-old Marcus' only living family member, his Aunt Charlotte, becomes his guardian. While his depressed aunt spends her days in her art studio, painting and sipping bottles of red wine, Marcus uses his honed homemaking skills to keep the beach front cottage spic and span, making himself useful, as he did for his working mom. Characters inner ruins lay concealed, their grief diverted by obsessions and addictions, in Gail Godwin's novel Grief Cottage. After the death of his single mother, eleven-year-old Marcus' only living family member, his Aunt Charlotte, becomes his guardian. While his depressed aunt spends her days in her art studio, painting and sipping bottles of red wine, Marcus uses his honed homemaking skills to keep the beach front cottage spic and span, making himself useful, as he did for his working mom. Marcus is also an expert caretaker, responsible and useful; his own needs are shunt aside, his own grief and doubt internalized. The rest of his day Marcus walks the South Carolina beach to visit the deserted house locals call Grief Cottage. Marcus is obsessed to know more about the tragedy that took place there. A family vacationing at the cottage disappeared in the 1954 hurricane, the parents searching for their missing son. How could no one have recorded the family's name? Marcus visits the empty shell of a house daily, 'courting' the ghost of the boy who appears to him. "Marcus feels the pain of others," said Aunt Charlotte, "even when they're dead and gone." Charlotte's cottage is filled with grief. Charlotte tries to escape the memory of her 'devil' father who at age five began to 'poison' her. It is 'the good old family horror story', Greek or Shakespearian in nature. Marcus is burdened by his lonely childhood, shamed when his one friend discovered he shared a bed with his mother. In a rage, Marcus beat the boy up. He underwent counseling and then his mother left her job and they moved-- to worse conditions--then his mother was killed in a car accident. In the galley reader's note, Godwin writes that she was inspired by stories of ghosts whose arrival coincides with a mental crisis, tales grounded in 'daily life,' but which 'leaves a window for the possibility of a reality we haven't discovered yet." "People see what they want to see. Or imagine they saw. " For a lonely eleven-year-old child in a new place, deep in grief, imagining a ghostly friend is not a far stretch. I had Homer the Ghost to keep me company when we moved the year I turned eleven. I knew he was imaginary. Marcus has to work to keep his 'realities' separate, the duties he owed to his aunt and to the ghost boy, to keep his sanity. It makes him feel even more isolated, for who would understand? I was compelled by this story to read far into the night. Even the supporting characters are sympathetic, full and real. There is a climatic revelation, and life goes on as it had, Marcus and his aunt supporting each other. And at the very end, a moment of grace returns Marcus something he had lost and gives him something he had long searched for. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A very atmospheric read, set on a South Carolina island with a haunted cottage where a family was swept away by a hurricane. However, I thought the rhythm of the young narrator’s languid summer days caring for his great-aunt became tedious, and I struggled to buy how self-aware he was meant to be of his fragile mental state at the age of 11. Reminiscent of John Irving (quirky secondary characters and so on) but without the same spark.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kupersmith

    Godwin too often creates characters who are trying much too hard to be "characters" & great aunt painter was unendurable - not helped by an Audible narrator who gave her a most annoyingly affected voice. Godwin too often creates characters who are trying much too hard to be "characters" & great aunt painter was unendurable - not helped by an Audible narrator who gave her a most annoyingly affected voice.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    it was a ghost story...but not the ghost story that I had expected. Was I disappointed? Yes...at first but then I discovered that it was so much more...the "literary child" of the mating of a ghost story and a psychological thriller... then I was hooked. Marcus...the 11 year old orphan is years ahead of the average 11 year old. The aunt that took him in had never met him but was his only living relative...was a mixture of hardy common sense, heartwarming sensitivity to a grieving child...and a l it was a ghost story...but not the ghost story that I had expected. Was I disappointed? Yes...at first but then I discovered that it was so much more...the "literary child" of the mating of a ghost story and a psychological thriller... then I was hooked. Marcus...the 11 year old orphan is years ahead of the average 11 year old. The aunt that took him in had never met him but was his only living relative...was a mixture of hardy common sense, heartwarming sensitivity to a grieving child...and a lot of downright strangeness. The little boy ghost was also a philosophical little soul. These characters all come together to form a story that is tender, sad, and hopeful.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    A well-written novel, though I remained slightly unsure whether this was meant to be a ghost story or a psycholgical exploration on loss; I could see what Godwin was aiming for but it didn't completely coalesce for me. Additionally there's quite a bit of abuse and dysfunction in the backstory, though it was handled deftly if a little too blatantly for my tastes. Bottomline, elements of the story were simply too sad or dark for this particular book to appeal to me making me draw the conclusion th A well-written novel, though I remained slightly unsure whether this was meant to be a ghost story or a psycholgical exploration on loss; I could see what Godwin was aiming for but it didn't completely coalesce for me. Additionally there's quite a bit of abuse and dysfunction in the backstory, though it was handled deftly if a little too blatantly for my tastes. Bottomline, elements of the story were simply too sad or dark for this particular book to appeal to me making me draw the conclusion this was not the book (or perhaps author) for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    "Grief Cottage" is the story of Marcus, a boy who loses his mother and has to go live with the only family he has left, his mother's Aunt Charlotte. Aunt Charlotte lives on a small island in South Carolina and makes a tidy living as an artist. Marcus is sure that she doesn't want him there, not really but just as Marcus finds comfort in his great aunt, his great aunt finds comfort in him being there. The characters are what really make the book. Marcus and Charlotte are two very different charact "Grief Cottage" is the story of Marcus, a boy who loses his mother and has to go live with the only family he has left, his mother's Aunt Charlotte. Aunt Charlotte lives on a small island in South Carolina and makes a tidy living as an artist. Marcus is sure that she doesn't want him there, not really but just as Marcus finds comfort in his great aunt, his great aunt finds comfort in him being there. The characters are what really make the book. Marcus and Charlotte are two very different characters. Marcus is a very typical child having to deal with very difficult (and luckily atypical things). He desperately misses his mother and her love. He can't imagine rebuilding a life without her but is forced to in South Carolina. Charlotte is a quiet renegade of sorts. Anything she needs to do for her small beach shack, she learns how to do herself. When her independence is taking away from her after an accident, she has to figure out how to let herself let others do things for her. We see her true colors then. She is a complicated character with a lot of hidden pain and secrets that unfold slowly throughout the book. I loved the way that the author was able to slowly peel back the layers of both Charlotte and Marcus. What is on the surface is not always the truth. Our two main characters are great but the supporting characters also really make the story! The island itself almost becomes a character as does the house named "Grief Cottage." Marcus explores his new island home thoroughly. He becomes obsessed with the almost-ruins of an old house on the shore where the story goes that a vacationing family was lost during a hurricane. Even though many adults warn him that the house could collapse at any moment, Marcus is drawn to it. He starts imagining things about the house and thinks he might see someone there. The house plays a major role at the height of the story line and as to not give anything away, I won't say much about what happens. This is a great book for those who like family sagas, hidden secrets, and light ghost stories! This is perfect summer reading to get lost in!

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