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Posted December 23, 2010
This is the story of John Holdsworth, a down and out bookseller in late eighteenth century England, who has recently lost his young son to a drowning accident. This is soon followed by the suicide by drowning of his despondent wife. He had written a book entitled, "The Anatomy of Ghosts" to try and shake his wife free of the belief that she could communicate with her dead son through a charlatan medium. John's attempt to bring her back to reality only exacerbated the problem and may have driven her over the edge. The first third of this novel thus moves at a somber pace. Things begin to look up for John and us when he is saved from a downward spiral, by the request of a Lady Anne Oldershaw to catalog her deceased husband's library in preparation for donating it to Cambridge University. There is a catch, however. Lady Anne's son, Frank, who had been attending Jerusalem College, has suddenly insisted that he has seen a ghost, had a breakdown and has been committed to a doctor's care. As Holdsworth seems to be an expert on debunking ghosts, Lady Anne wants him to bring her son back to her and cure him of these foolish and dangerous thoughts. Here the story switches to the life in the college and mystery surrounding Frank's encounter with his ghost. The author sets the scene and mood of the story nicely with a myriad of details of late eighteenth century English life in the cities and colleges of the time. The pace of the book is slow at first, but picks up as the cast of characters and story unfold. There are a number of interesting plot lines and twists to keep our interest until the grand denouement. I found the book a bit long. It would perhaps have benefited from some tighter plotting, but overall was an enjoyable read with enough tragedy, romance, mystery, and intrigue for everyone. This book was provided for review by the good folks at Hyperion books.
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Posted March 22, 2011
Interesting story that lacks definitive ending
The Anatomy of Ghosts is set in 1786 Cambridge at fictional Jerusalem College. The author does a great job of storytelling, and gives great description of imagery and scenery. The story and characters are all quite interesting, and the author goes to great lenghts to unravel the plot. I did not mind the length of the book, however, was somewhat disappointed with the ending. Mr. Taylor spent so much time developing the story and climax, but in the end, there was not much of a climax. The end felt rushed; hurried. There is not a definite, satisfying conclusion to the story, and I am not a fan if books that leave you guessing about what happens to all to the main characters. Also, the title may be somewhat misleading, as the "ghost" may not make as big of an impact as one might think from the title (at least for me). Overall, the book is worth the read, especially on a cold and rainy day.
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Posted January 24, 2011
Keeps you guessing
I just finished this book last night it starts slow but once it draws you in it is hard to put down. It is a good mystery period piece that will keep you guessing to the end.
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Posted August 11, 2012
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