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The Anatomy of Ghosts Paperback – 30 November 2017
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- Publisher : Penguin Books Ltd (30 November 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1405936126
- ISBN-13 : 978-1405936125
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the Author
Andrew Taylor is the author of a number of crime novels, including the ground-breaking Roth Trilogy, which was adapted into the acclaimed drama Fallen Angel, and the historical crime novels The Ashes of London, The Silent Boy, and The American Boy, a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and a 2005 Richard & Judy Book Club Choice.
He has won many awards, including the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA's prestigious Diamond Dagger.
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Top review from Australia
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John Holdsworth is bewildered and broke, and haunted by his own ghosts. Lady Anne Oldershaw, familiar with his book, offers him employment. While part of the employment relates to organizing her late husband's library, she also believes that he may be able to help her son Frank. Frank, a student at Jerusalem College in Cambridge seems to have lost his mind. Frank believes that he has seen the ghost of Sylvia Whichcote, a friend's wife, and Lady Anne wants John Holdsworth to demonstrate to Frank that it was either a delusion or a hoax. She believes that this will restore Frank's sanity.
Cambridge, in 1786, is a claustrophobic place, and Jerusalem College has its own secrets. Frank was being initiated into Jerusalem's hellfire society, the Holy Ghost Club as the novel opens and the mystery surrounding this club makes it difficult for John Holdsworth to find out what really happened. Finding out how and why Sylvia Whichcote drowned leads John Holdsworth on an interesting, and dramatic, journey of discovery. Few people are who they seem to be, and the class structure - so painstakingly drawn - seems to be a barrier to discovering the truth. But John Holdsworth is nothing if not persistent and if he can't unravel the truth about the death of Sylvia Whichcote, perhaps he needs to reconsider the possible existence of ghosts.
I enjoyed this novel: the fact that John Holdsworth is an outsider to Cambridge meant that we learned about the arcana and inner workings of eighteenth century English university life as he did.
It may slow the pace of the story down a little, but it certainly enriches it.
`I am not the only one who sees ghosts.'
Top reviews from other countries
I absolutely adored The Roth Trilogy (my first encounter with Andrew Taylor) and didn't have high hopes for this as I thought nothing could surpass this utterly exceptional trilogy; but I should have had more faith as this is stunning.
I am just love historical novels and totally immerse myself in them, especially when they are beautifully written and the writing flows effortlessly, like this one does. The book is set in 1786 in a University known as Jerusalem College,
I won't cover any of the story as this has been covered by other reviewers, save to say that I really liked John Holdsworth and his efforts to uncover the truth of recent shocking events which had taken place at Jerusalem.
I was so engrossed in the story I felt I had been transported back to that time and could visualise the terrible living conditions of the poor, together with the dress of the day; I honestly didn't want it to end.
Wonderful and highly recommended.
I had hoped this book would be a good ghost story, complete with spooky goings-on and veiled women floating down old corridors but I was to be disappointed. Ultimately the book reads more like a `Whodunit' that ends with the slightly flat revelation of who the killer is. That said, the characters are well drawn and I was quite impressed by the dialogue, it can't be easy to recreate the rhetoric of 200 years ago but Taylor succeeds. I also loved the love story between Hollingsworth and the Master's wife and this is despite my normally loathing love stories. It was very deftly done with some truly delicate scenes between the two characters beautifully drawn.
Overall a decent work of fiction that's main highlight for me was the exhibition of the snobbery of young rich men and the struggle not to mention servitude of their poor fellow students.
Not everyone at the university is wealthy. Some of the students, boys on a scholarship, alongside college lecturers survive on a pittance. This impoverished group are further stressed by bullying and class discrimination handed down from the 'higher echelons'.
Into this mix of over indulgence, poverty and eccentricity arrives the character of John Holdsworth a man recently widowed and now on a mission to find and help one of the students, Frank, member of the 'Holy Ghost Club' and son of an aristocratic family. What emerges from here is a story of ghosts, murder and general 'shenanigans' amongst the university population. Is there a female spectre haunting the university?. If so then why?. That's all part of the mystery and the revelations are slowly and satisfyingly worked into the plot.
None of these characters are particularly likeable with most of them out for little more than self indulgence and self promotion. Their university life, due to the era, is almost entirely male and one dimensional. Women are either mothers, wives, employers or ghosts!. A mentally frail boy and his widowed minder have a puzzle to solve before either is fully recovered. Maybe it's too late?.
I enjoyed this book. The historical background is believable. Moments of dark creepiness built a sense of tension which kept me hooked.