30 Sep Book review: Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff
Perfect for fans of Tenko and The Railway Man
A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets.
Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own.
Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell.
But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?
Gripping, poignant and beautifully researched, Ghostwritten is a story of survival and love, of memory and hope.
I’m so ashamed to admit that this is the first book by Isabel Wolff I have read. I simply can not believe it took me so long to find out about her books, but boy..am I grateful to twitter and all my friends’ recommendations. However, right after reading ‘Ghostwritten’ I got two more of Ms Wolff’s books because that’s just how much I love her writing style and how much I LOVED this book. Sometimes, all it takes is just one book for an author to become an auto-buy for me, however this particular book has to blow me away! ‘Ghostwritten’ sure blew me away, completely!
Utterly brilliant, fantastically written, well researched, ‘Ghostwritten’ is a true masterpiece. The subject is pretty heavy, it goes back and forth in time, following two stories. The complexity of the story and the many layers a reader needs to peel to find out the truth about the characters, left me absolutely speechless. Jenni, the MC is someone I got so strongly attached. I remember having such a major book hangover when I finished reading this book. Simply put, it’s THAT AMAZING.
Jenni is a ghost writer, having her own insecurities but with a reason. It takes us a while to understand the real reasons why she’s so insecure and why she’s not a ‘proper’ author. She ghost writes biographies, and is given the opportunity to write Klara’s story. However, she doesn’t jump at the opportunity since she has to go back to a place where some of her greatest secrets are buried. After much persuasion she decides to take the job, however she has to fight her own demons. Learning the painful story and the horror Klara went through in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation, makes her open up before this lovely lady and true survivor and start telling her own painful story.
Wow! Indeed wow! I remember that right after reading the blurb I said to myself to get prepared for an emotional roller coaster. However, I was definitely NOT prepared for this story. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it to bits, I love everything about it, from the story, to the characters, even the cover which suits the story brilliantly. But I wasn’t prepared for it to be so emotional! I cried and cried, and then cried some more. Ms Wolff knows her characters so well, the descriptions of the camps were so vivid I honestly felt like some mad soldier was gonna show up behind my back telling me to move and kicking me in the head. Honestly, everything felt like watching a movie and so so REAL!
Klara and Jenni are wonderful characters, and their stories and courage make them true heroines for me. The more I think about this book, the more I fear I won’t do it justice with my review. It’s not just because I loved it so so sooo much, but because there are so many layers to this story, I honestly don’t know how to fully describe it’s brilliance. I can only imagine how long it took Ms Wolff to research this story, there are so many places, camps, people mentioned and everything in this story simply flows. It’s literally flawless, from any perspective and will definitely stay with you long after you read it.
Perfect read for anyone, especially fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley and Diane Chamberlain…which again, means perfect for everyone. Highly recommended!
My rating: 10/10