The Ghost of Greenwich Villageby Lorna Graham
In this charming fiction debut, a young woman moves to Manhattan in search of romance and excitement—only to find that her apartment is haunted by the ghost of a cantankerous Beat Generation writer in need of a rather huge favor.
For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of/b>
In this charming fiction debut, a young woman moves to Manhattan in search of romance and excitement—only to find that her apartment is haunted by the ghost of a cantankerous Beat Generation writer in need of a rather huge favor.
For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the early sixties among a lively community of Beat artists and writers. But when Eve arrives, the only scribe she meets is a grumpy ghost named Donald, and the only writing she manages to do is for chirpy segments on a morning news program, Smell the Coffee. The hypercompetitive network environment is a far cry from the genial camaraderie of her mother’s literary scene, and Eve begins to wonder if the world she sought has faded from existence. But as she struggles to balance her new job, demands from Donald to help him complete his life’s work, a budding friendship with a legendary fashion designer, and a search for clues to her mother’s past, Eve begins to realize that community comes in many forms—and that the true magic of the Village is very much alive, though it may reveal itself in surprising ways.
“Go out and buy three copies…one for yourself, one for your mom, and one for your best friend. Lorna Graham has a gift.” Hoda Kotb, Co-anchor, fourth hour of NBC’s “Today”
"..has a lot to say about enduring challenges to achieve a goal."Katie Holmes, in O Magazine
“Delightful!” – People
“This debut novel exudes charm and insider knowledge... The characters are quirky and realistic, and the story rings true... Highly recommended for all fiction readers.”Library Journal
With its light, matter-of-fact depiction of a supernatural relationship, Graham’s debut is lots of fun to read….Delightful coming-of-age story with a sweet reverence for the art and romance of old Gotham.—Kirkus
“Lorna Graham’s debut sparkles with wit and warmth and magic. Eve is a modern girl with an old soul whose story will make you smile and wish for ghosts of your own.” Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All the Numbers
"Lorna Graham's novel is charming, a sweet and whimsical romp through a magical Manhattan. I would love to live in her Greenwich Village, both past and present.” Janelle Brown, author of This Is Where We Live and All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
“The Ghost of Greenwich Village is a beautifully written love story. It’s a tribute to people and places, past and present, real and imagined. But it’s also a fascinating peek inside the world of morning news, and a fast-paced adventure of a single girl in New York City (complete with fabulous closet). While reading it, I wanted to bury myself in a really comfy chair and silence the phone so no one could disturb me until I’d devoured the last page.” Paulina Porizkova, author of A Model Summer
Manhattan can be a lonely place for fresh-faced arrivals, and Ohio-born Eve Weldon does struggle to make new friends after moving to the big city, but at least her new roommate (of sorts) is a lively conversationalist. He just happens to be dead. Donald is a sardonic Beat-era writer who passed suddenly, well before his time. Donald may not have known the success of his contemporaries, but he proves, to Eve, to be an invaluable source of literary lore. With her collection of vintage outfits and love of mid-century writers, Eve is fascinated by the era. It turns out that Eve's mother Penelope, who also died young, lived for a time in the Village in the 1960s, before settling for a safe, dull life with Eve's father Gin. In a way, Eve seems bent on living the free-spirited life her mother never had. She lucks into a full-time job writing scripts forSmell the Coffee, a Good Morning America–style morning show hosted by affable ex-jock Hap McCutcheon and ice queen Bliss Jones. The gig is far from glamorous, though, and her position in the staff pecking order is precarious. But during one of her pre-interviews, she manages to charm Matthias Klieg, a legendary and reclusive German fashion designer. The much older man takes what appears to be a paternal interest in Eve, and she discovers that he and Donald were close friends who fell in love with the same woman. Donald remains unaware of Eve's connection with Klieg and cajoles her into helping him finish his work by dictating his experimental stories to her in the hopes that she can finally get him published. Donald further complicates Eve's life by making it impossible for her to bring any friends or lovers back to her place, setting both of them up for an inevitable confrontation. With its light, matter-of-fact depiction of a supernatural relationship, Graham's debut is lots of fun to read, even during those moments when Eve's wide-eyed innocence borders on cloying.
Delightful coming-of-age story with a sweet reverence for the art and romance of old Gotham.
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.98(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.75(d)
Read an Excerpt
Eve pressed hard against her temples and he responded by shifting a little. The pain abated for a moment, then parked itself behind her left eye. She squinted, sipped the last of the tea that had failed to calm her nerves, and set the chipped china bowl in the sink. Today of all days, she wished Donald would just get out.
“I heard that,” he said, with a little buzz behind one ear. “I’m not going anyplace. And don’t try to change the subject. We were talking about this ‘interview’ of yours and why you won’t tell me whom it’s with.”
“Not now. I’m going to be late,” said Eve. Retying her kimono around her waist, she hurried down the narrow hallway of her apartment and into her bedroom, where she pulled open the French doors of her closet and reached for the dangling chain of the overhead light. She surveyed the racks, determined to find something elegant, professional, and, most of all, lucky.
“You wouldn’t need a lucky dress if you didn’t pursue these nonsensical jobs,” said Donald. “What was the last one? Party planner? Never heard of such a thing. Who plans a party? A guitar and a couple of blottersthere’s your party. And before that?” He considered. “Selling videogames to teenagers, was it? What exactly are videogames?”
“Quiet,” said Eve, running her palms over the rows of vintage tweed, tulle, silk, and suede that she’d inherited from her mother, Penelope. Once she’d grown into them, she hadn’t had to have even one thing altered. The bounty included structured skirt suits and dainty blouses, pert kitten heels and flowing silk scarves. Her eyes fell on a peacock blue sheath by Pauline Trigere, a favorite of her mother’s, and she held it up with a critical eye.
“Why on earth can’t you do what I used to do?” asked Donald. “Sweep floors, wash dishes, wait tables. Sweat of your brow! Good, honest work. The kind the creative class has been doing for centuries. And think of all the time it would allow you for taking down my stories.”
“For the hundredth time, Donald, this isn’t the fifties,” said Eve impatiently. “No one can wash dishes and afford to live in Greenwich Village anymore.” She dabbed at a spot on the sheath’s tulip skirt with a wet washcloth. “It’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, full of bankers and lawyers. Remember? You’ve had them as tenants, you told me.”
“What kind of job is it, then?” Donald pressed.
Eve knew that telling the truth would set him off completely, so she busied herself with the choice between skimmers and spectator pumpsa sure way to throw him off the scent.
“The cream ones with the black trim, definitely,” said Donald dryly. “Fine. Don’t tell me. I don’t care. What we need to talk about is our next story, the one about the rubber glove that eats Manhattan. I believe I’ve found the beginning. The secret is to start in the middle.”
Eve threw back her head and looked at the ceiling. “First of all, it’s not ‘our’ story, it’s yours. And second, I couldn’t possibly take dictation now, if that’s what you’re hinting at. I need to focus.” Usually, Eve didn’t mind listening to Donald. In fact, she liked to think she was a good listener in general. But she would have preferred having the choice of when to listen and to whom.
The pain took real root now, spreading wide and deep. She needed aspirin. Not that it would help. There were so many pills on the market for so many different afflictions: muscle aches, allergies, depression. What they really needed to make was one for hauntings. “For the painful symptoms caused by the spirit of a dead man playing hopscotch across your brain synapses while complaining you won’t take down his ‘Pulitzer Prize-worthy’ short stories,” the label could say. She’d snap up a truckload.
“My, there seems no way around your peevishness today,” said Donald. “But grant me a minute. This is the story I was in the middle of when I, you know, left.” Donald never liked to admit outright that he had died, usually preferring to employ any of a half-dozen euphemisms. “And recently I realized how to get past my stumbling block. It’s about this mitten that wants to be a glove. . . .” He began to prattle in earnest now, like sandpaper on the cerebellum.
Eve groaned and flung herself on her bed. The worst thing by far about being haunted was that you couldn’t tell anyone about it. Well, you could if you came from one of those dramatic Southern families. Or if you were a child. But there were no ghosts among the upwardly mobile in Manhattan. Really, what would one say? “I’ve got six hundred square feet in an 1845 townhouse, complete with crown moldings, a fireplaceand a dead writer demanding I help him finish his life’s work”?
“Are you paying any attention whatsoever?” asked Donald.
“Soon I’ll have my own writing to worry about,” she said. It slipped out before she could stop it, but Eve couldn’t help but enjoy how the whirring in her head came to an abrupt halt as he took this in.
“What are you talking about?”
“My interview. It’s for a writing job. I’m going to be a writer, too.” Saying this proved immensely satisfying for some reason. “What do you think about that?”
A few moments of ominous silence followed. “There is no such thing as a ‘writing job,’ ” Donald intoned with ostentatious gravity, a sure sign he was about to embark upon a rant. Eve put her head under a large, lace-edged pillow as he continued. “Writing is not a nine-to-five thing. It is not a way to pay rent. You either are a writer or you aren’t. You either inhabit the craft or you don’t. You either challenge the métier or wither. You either”
“It’s a television writing job,” she said importantly.
“Television! That Pandora’s box?” Instantly, Eve regretted telling him anything at all. “That which would steal our waking hours, hypnotize us with its propaganda and corporate doublespeak, and drain us of our humanity? You would be a cog in that evil machine, a worker bee servicing the fat queen of mediocrity, a jabbering messenger of commercial colonization? Absolutely notout of the question.”
“As a ghost unable to muster physical form, I hardly see that you’re in a position to stop me,” said Eve, pulling the pillow away so she could breathe. “And anyway, if I don’t land this job, we’re both in trouble. I don’t have next month’s rent. Nothing near it. I’ll be out and your stories will never see the printed page, understand? I’ll have to go back home.”
Her intention was to rattle Donald, but it was she who shuddered as the words came out of her mouth. She’d never really had to manage money before, and looking at her checkbook last night, she realized with horror that after only six weeks in the city, her bank account had plummeted to less than four hundred dollars. She would need several times that in the next couple of weeks for Mr. De Fief, the kind of landlord who sent burly young men around to collect the rent of any tenant who was late, as a “courtesy.”
The idea of going back home was too painful to think about. She couldn’t leave New York. Not yet.
She bent to open the bedroom window to air the place out now that it had stopped raining. The moisture had caused the peeling old wood to swell, and it took several good yanks to move the sash even a few inches. Eve slipped into the Trigere, enjoying the silk’s structured yet soft embrace, and checked her reflection in the full-length mirror that hung by a ribbon on the back of the closet door. Her ink black bob hugged her head in becoming fashion, though shadows of worry purpled the skin beneath her large hazel eyes.
If she’d had any idea the night she decided to move to New York that soon she’d not only find a reasonably priced apartment in the Villagewhich everyone said was impossiblebut share it with a ghost of a local writer, she would have clapped her hands with joy. She’d have reveled in elaborate fantasies of chatting cozily with Henry James, glowing softly white, complete with waistcoat and walking stick, the two of them discussing point of view in literature and French food. Or communing with Edith Wharton, who would float above the floor in a feathered hat and bustle, using her famed decorating skills to advise Eve on where to hang her nascent collection of gallery posters. Or playing poker and cracking wise with Mark Twain, his cards hovering over the table.
But no such luck. Eve had wound up with Donald Bellows, the Beatnik from Hell.
He possessed neither the others’ fame nor comportment. He was insecure, irascible, and bitter about dying before completing his “crowning collection” of avant-garde stories. And he didn’t even have the good grace to appear! There was no apparition hanging in the air above her bed, no doors slamming in the night, no “Mwaaaaaaaaaaa” coming from the dumbwaiter. All of that would have been fine, fun even; it would have lent her thoroughly modern life a sense of old-fashioned romance. But this voice inside her head, with its fizzing and churlishness? Hardly romantic.
Which was fitting because Donald himself wasn’t romantic. He came from an era, he informed her, when women turned their backs on marriage and its attendant obsession with household appliances, embracing instead the life of the mind. They certainly didn’t expect chivalry. And to him, chivalry extended to anything resembling politesse. There was no need for such pretense, he claimed, not among thinking people.
Eve turned to her jewelry box and mulled over her mother’s collection of rhinestone earrings, holding up an outsized pair she’d first clipped to her ears when she was six. She’d always remembered the moment because when she turned from the vanity to face Penelope, her mother had looked up from her book and burst into delighted laughter, a sound rarely heard in their house.
Penelope. She, and the mystery at the heart of her life, were a big part of why Eve was here. And was determined to stay. But it was a tight calculus she was up against. No temp work would pay enough to cover the rent of even this “affordable” Village apartment, which was exorbitant by the standards of any other place. And then there were the light and phone bills. And food. Takeout was ridiculously expensive, so much so that Eve was making two meals out of every one she ordered, supplementing with cereal when she was particularly hungry. People complained about living “paycheck to paycheck.” She would kill for that. She needed a real job and soon.
Eve shook her head as if to dislodge her fears. She wasn’t going to be forced out. No way.
“Well, well,” said Donald. “We certainly don’t want you going back to the Ohio suburbs. Perhaps I can be of some assistance for this interview. So, tell me. What is this evil enterprise of a job?”
This was an awkward question. The truth was, Eve didn’t know. She had no idea what being a writer at Smell the Coffee, the nation’s number two morning show, actually entailed. What was there to write at a news program? She’d never watched much television and didn’t even have one in her apartment. But her impression of people who delivered the news was that they just . . . talked.
Even Vadis didn’t really seem to know what the job involved, and she was the one who’d set up the interview. Vadis Morales was a college friend with whom Eve had reconnected at a dinner honoring the opening of a fellow alumna’s off-Broadway play. Now in their thirties, nearly all the women present that night had met with rather astonishing levels of professional success. Vadis herself owned her own Manhattan PR firm and seemed to know everyone on the island, including Smell the Coffee’s managing editor. She’d taken to calling Eve her first pro bono project and, over drinks, had assured Eve that the television job would be both easy and fabulous, a gig where you “read magazines, talk about the articles with your boss, and then go to lunch.” Vadis said all this breezily but Eve sensed her friend was running out of patience with her. True, Eve had lost the first two jobs Vadis had set her up with, but to be fair, party planning and videogame sales had been wildly inappropriate matches.
“Well, let’s start with what we do know,” said Donald. “We know you’ve shown some promise as a writer, yes? All those contests you won.” There had only been one contest, years ago, but Eve didn’t want to dwell on that. “Though they won’t actually expect you to write something today, I hope? We’ll have a lot of work to do first.”
“I appreciate that vote of confidence,” said Eve. “No, I won’t be writing today. This is just an interview.” Which was bad enough, though, because Eve had never been on a job interview in her life. Thanks to her father, she hadn’t had to.
She settled on a pair of faceted jet earrings and a cameo necklace, lamenting that New York hadn’t turned out to be the easiest place to take the reins of one’s fate for the first time. It was complicated, fraught, and fast; vital decisions seemed to be made and fortunes won or lost in the time it took for a yellow cab to peel away from the curb.
“You need to start thinking optimistically,” said Donald. “You’ll have a chance at this job, but only if you’re sure of yourself,” he said. “Conviction is the lifeblood of this city, whatever people tell you about money.”
“Great,” said Eve, slipping into a pair of slingbacks. She yanked the string of the closet light so hard that it came away in her hand. She sank back down on the bed, a sudden attack of nerves robbing her of her vigor.
“Sarcasm and defeat hardly become you, my dear,” Donald advised. “Try this for your interview. Picture how a confident person moves and adopt that posture, even if it’s a complete ruse. Your back is straight, your handshake firm, your voice even.”
This didn’t seem particularly profound. And she’d really have to work on the voice part. Since Eve had arrived in New York, hers had almost gone hoarse from lack of use. She guessed she uttered fewer than fifty words a day, most of them to Hyo behind the counter of the deli, who raised his sparse eyebrows at her request for a “horseshoe sandwich,” a favorite from home, and Mrs. Swan, her retired neighbor next door. Though anytime she was tempted to bemoan her solitude, Eve spared a thought for Donald and how lonely he must have been during the thirty-five years before she moved in.
Meet the Author
Lorna Graham was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from Barnard College. She has written for Good Morning America and Dateline NBC. She also wrote a short film, “A Timeless Call,” honoring America’s military veterans, that was directed by Steven Spielberg. She lives in Greenwich Village.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I enjoyed this book a lot. My only complaint is that it ended.
Eve Weldon left Ohio with dreams of finding traces of her late mom Penelope who lived in the Village before leaving New York to marry Gin in the Buckeye State. The newcomer rents an apartment in which the owner failed to inform her about the current occupant. Donald the ghost was part of the beat generation just like Penelope; he like her died young, but the late writer remains in his apartment that he shares with Eve. Eve is euphoric when she obtains a script writing job for Smell the Coffee morning show. She soon understands that her position is in the ooze underneath the hierarchal ladder. Still she charms legendary designer Matthias Klieg, a colleague of Donald, who fell in love with the same woman. Eve is unsure whey she conceals from her roommate her mentee relationship with Matthias. Donald persuades Eve to help him complete his experimental stories that he is dying to see published. This is a charming coming of age paranormal drama. The story line is character driven by the Buckeye, the ghost, the elderly designer, and their woman. Although Eve appears too naive of a country bumpkin (in the age of social media) readers will enjoy her mentoring in the arts with nostalgia for New York circa 1950s-1960s. Harriet Klausner
Eve is a young woman who heads out to New York with hopes of connecting with her long dead mother whose past included being part of the sixties Beat Generation. While 'Ghost' is prominent in the title, Donald, the ghost here, is a relatively minor part of the story. This is more about Eve and her quest to find her place in life. We're taken behind the scenes of a morning news show and shown how things work. There are many references to Beat Generation writers woven in with Donald the ghost and Eve's new friendships. I found some things a little too convenient and at times got restless with the lack of action in the story. That being said, I got a great feel for the characters and enjoyed Graham's writing style. Overall, I found this an easy and fun read.
Eve Weldon moves to Greenwich Village searching for a connection to her dead mother who was an artist there in the 1960's. Jobless and alone she is adrift in the big city until she rents an old apartment. She soon discovers that the ghost of a little known, beat generation author haunts her apartment. With his cranky advice and sometimes unhelpful guidance she soon finds herself with a writing job for a local tv show, a friendship with a famous, avant garde fashion designer, and a budding social life. But the ghost has secrets and as Eve spends more and more time with him she begins to have suspisions that he is somehow connected to her mother. The Ghost of Greenwich Village is an immature effort from a possibly promising author. The main storyline, Eve's relationship with the ghost, Donald, and her unraveling of his secrets, is cluttered with unnecesary details and mysterious subplots that aren't interesting. Why have Donald present himself to Eve in such an unusual, confusing way? It doesn't accomplish anything for the plot and just takes time and patience to wade through the explanation of how exactly he appears in her head. Its also baffling as to why Eve stays in the apartment, paying more rent than she can afford, for the sake of a ghost she most often dislikes and who is very inconvenient for her. On the other hand, many of the side stories about Eve's life outside the apartment were fun and imaginatively written. The morning talk show world and the dynamic between the stars and the writers was different and intriguing. The fashion designer also added a nice twist and glimpse into that glamorous world. The story has enough interesting parts to merit picking up Lorna Graham's next effort, but I won't be recommending this book to anyone. I listened to The Ghost of Greenwich Village on audio, narrated by Nicole Vilencia.She does well with the youthful, fanciful tones of Eve, but didn't quite manage the switch to a more serious, grumpy Donald.
I am still smiling! I found this novel to be finely crafted and neatly packaged. The author has given us much to think about and makes quite a statement as to how times don't change much and neither do the players. I want more, but understand that more would ruin this piece of art. Well done!