A young boy obsessed with a haunted beach shack searches for meaning amid catastrophic loss in National Book Award–finalist Godwin’s (Flora) chilling novel. After Marcus’s mother dies, the 11-year-old leaves with his great-aunt Charlotte to live on a small South Carolina island. Marcus receives little comfort from the laconic, reclusive painter, but falls easily into an unexpected role as her caretaker and companion. Analytical beyond his years but lacking an adult’s skepticism, Marcus becomes entranced by the ramshackle cottage that Charlotte has painted for countless commissions over the years. After being told a family had disappeared there 50 years earlier, Marcus seeks answers long buried by time. The book moves between the fantastical and the everyday with ease; Marcus is just as likely to shop for his elderly neighbors as to whisper encouragement to loggerhead hatchlings or offer friendship to the restless spirits of the island. But nothing and no one on the island can break free of the forces that build and destroy, that give life and bring death. As time pushes him forward, Marcus must decide how to grieve: to raze his identity completely or memorialize his tragedies. His choice and its consequences will echo with readers, and Godwin’s forceful prose captivates with the quiet, renewing power of a persistent tide. Agent: Moses Cardona, John Hawkins and Associates. (June)
"[Godwin] remains a forensically skillful examiner of her characters' motives, thoughts and behavior. Grief Cottage revisits some of her favorite themesfractured families, parentless children, the initial shock and long-term repercussions of death and disappearance, how the future can run off course in a flashto make the very good point that it doesn't require a ghost to haunt a life . . . Deeply satisfying." - New York Times
"Godwin may flirt with the magical, but she deals firmly with the realism of depression and loss. It's those psychological ghosts that Grief Cottage is really about." - Washington Post
"Compelling . . . an ambiguous, beguiling tale in which the presence of the supernatural is entangled withand perhaps precipitated bycharacters who are undergoing an emotional crisis." - The Economist
"Godwin's riveting and wise story of the slow coalescence of trust and love between a stoic artist and a grieving boy . . . subtly and insightfully explores different forms of haunting and vulnerability, strength and survival . . . Word will spread quickly about Godwin's tender and spellbinding supernatural novel." - Starred Review, Booklist
"Godwin's forceful prose captivates with the quiet, renewing power of a persistent tide." - Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, "Best Books of 2017"
"An exquisite narrative . . . This grace-filled story probes aspects of life and death, isolation and family, and how great pain and loss can ultimately lead to unforeseen transcendence." - Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
"Marcus' fascination with the ghostly presence of an adolescent boy, thought to have perished at Grief Cottage in a hurricane, allows Godwin to explore themes of loss, connection, and growth unfettered by the corporeal world." - Kirkus Reviews
"Godwin, who has been nominated three times for the National Book Award and written some of the late-20th-century's most affecting prose, is at age 80 nothing if not centered and engaged. . . . Grief Cottage concerns an orphan named Marcus and some ghosts, but it's really about how each of us is haunted, even when we don't acknowledge it." - Lit Hub
"Like Henry James's classic, The Turn of the Screw, Grief Cottage is less a paranormal thriller than an exploration of the psyche's creative tactics to survive trauma . . . Godwin shows she is still at the top of her craft, using the fragile link between living and spirit to illuminate a young man's coming of age in this keenly observed, powerful novel." - BookPage
"Grief Cottage is an absorbing and wise novel. Gail Godwin convincingly expands the meanings of haunting well beyond the appearance of the ghost-boy who triggers Marcus Harshaw's uncannyand cannyjourney of self-discovery." - Washington Independent Review of Books
"A compelling story of family and loss. Godwin's vivid prose, well-wrought characters and captivating plot will keep readers turning pages to the end." - Charleston Post & Courrier
"Godwin again works her magic in a novel at once uplifting and somber. An author whose skills have entranced readers for 45 years, Godwin will turn 80 this month. But do not fret over a mere number, one which has in no way diminished her power to appeal to the intellectual and emotional sides of human existence . . . Grief Cottage melds literary and popular fiction, glows with Godwin's heart and humanity and reflects the wisdom of her years." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"[Godwin] knows how to make the atmosphere tense and make your skin tingle. At 80, the author, who grew up in Asheville and graduated from UNC, is returning to long-favorite themes: longings and loss, motherless children and the repercussions of death . . . Grief Cottage is not the fluffy stuff of many a summer beach read, but it's well worth a place in your beach bag this summer." - Raleigh News & Observer
"Gail Godwin peers into the souls of her characters to find the healing nature of kindness, tolerance and love." - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Brilliant . . . Godwin's perfectly flowing prose reaches that elusive place where reality and fiction collide seamlessly. Her ability to infuse characters and settings with heartbreaking depth makes this novel unforgettable." - Woodbury
"Godwin, a three-time National Book Award finalist, mixes horror and mystery tropes with literary musings on growing up and growing old. The result is a sort of supernatural bildungsroman, less a traditional ghost story and more a cautionary tale about the specter of impermanence . . . Full of curiosity and spectacle . . . the novel succeeds in questioning the uncanny and finding life even in a ghost story." - Atlanta Journal Constitution
"A stately meditation on loss and longing." - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Summer Reads"
"Godwin handles the supernatural deftly. It's up to the reader whether Marcus actually sees something or is letting his imagination run riot . . . Godwin's descriptions of beach life, from the quality of light over the water to a nest of sea turtles about to hatch, will make you want to drop what you’re doing and head for the ocean immediately." - Star News (Wilmington, NC)
"Whether the ghost is 'real' or the creation of a distressed psyche becomes irrelevant. As in Godwin's favorite story, Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, it could go either way, and despite the heat of the South Carolina summer, there is a peculiar chill in the air." - Alabama Public Radio
"Can the needs of the living and dead sometimes merge? Eleven-year-old Marcus's desire to believe so leads him, and us, on a harrowing and unforgettable journey toward an answer. Grief Cottage further confirms that Gail Godwin is one of our country's very finest novelists." - Ron Rash, author of THE RISEN and ABOVE THE WATERFALL
"No one writes about the psychological weight of the human condition like Gail Godwin. In Grief Cottage Godwin is able to conjure on the page what few of us can conjure in our minds: the implications of loss and time and what it means to be haunted by both." - Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY and A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME
Spirits of all types haunt characters in Godwin's latest examination of grief and loss.Cast adrift after the death of his devoted single mother—who had not yet revealed the identity of his father—preternaturally self-aware 11-year-old Marcus finds himself in the care of his enigmatic great-aunt, Charlotte, a reclusive painter and inhabitant of a coastal South Carolina island. With an entire summer to adjust to life in his new situation before school starts, Marcus endeavors to make sense of his present surroundings as well as his past. His attentions focus on Grief Cottage (the site of a local tragedy) and the caretaking efforts undertaken each year by island residents to ensure the safe passage of hatching sea turtles as they journey to the ocean. Marcus' fascination with the ghostly presence of an adolescent boy, thought to have perished at Grief Cottage in a hurricane, allows Godwin (Publishing: A Writer's Memoir, 2015, etc.) to explore themes of loss, connection, and growth unfettered by the corporeal world. A cast of island denizens and old friends aids Marcus in his quest to understand his place in the world and illustrates the concept of family as he searches for the reality of it. Readers willing to suspend disbelief in the paranormal occurrences facing the pubescent Marcus may still struggle with the unusually high levels of awareness—of self and others—in his narration, relatively rare traits in a character his age. Echoes of the mysterious isolation in Marcus' family's past sound throughout the novel, suggesting that home and family may best be experienced as we create them, not as we expect them. Godwin approaches many of her usual melancholic themes from a different angle and raises the question of whether we get what we want or we get what we need.