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?
I have read books based around the time of World War II but this is the first one I have read that tells it from the point of view of the Japanese occupation. From reading the blurb, I was intrigued but didn’t know what to expect.
As with Peach Blossom Pavilion, to use the word enjoy when referring to this book would seem a little inappropriate given the subject matter. It was quite a poignant yet harrowing account of one girls memories of being in a concentration camp. Isabel drew me right into the story and even though I found it quite hard to read in places, I couldn’t stop reading either. I wanted to know what happened next in Klara’s story.
The book also focuses on Jenni, the woman who is ghostwriting Klara’s story. She returns to Cornwall having not been there since she was a girl and she has her own past to face – a past full of regrets. I found her story interesting and I would love to read about her life up until the start of it in this novel. Both women, Jenni and Klara have been through a lot and are both having to face up to decisions made in their past, things they can’t control in the present but decisions that still haunt them.
Klara is quite a strong character and I liked her straight away. She reminded me a little of my Nan. Jenni isn’t a very strong character at the beginning. She is hiding from a lot of things. As the book progresses and as she gets to know Klara, she gets a little stronger and more likeable.
The prose felt immediate and drew me into the story and there were a couple of places where tears were bitten back. This book was my first introduction to Isabel Wolff and I really can’t recommend it enough. A great book.
Ghostwritten will be published by HarperCollins on March 27th in paperback, at £7.99. Isabel wrote it without the services of a ghost writer.
For more information on Ghostwritten, visit Isabel’s website.
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.