Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: The Ghost of Greenwich Village

Summary: 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. -- Ballantine

When I picked up THE GHOST OF GREENWICH VILLAGE by Lorna Graham a few weeks ago during my vacation at the shore, I was expecting a light, fluffy read about a woman who moves to the big city and finds that her house is 'haunted" by a ghost -- a chick lit, ghost story, if you will. And while the book was sorta/kinda like that, that description doesn't really do it justice. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the characters and the story as well as the author's writing. In fact, I'd say that it was a pretty entertaining read!

One of my favorite things about THE GHOST OF GREENWICH VILLAGE were the characters. They  definitely helped in my enjoyment of the novel. First of all, I just loved Eve. She was a young woman who decided to follow her dreams (and her mother's footsteps) to become a writer. She picks up and moves to Greenwich Village; however, her life there isn't exactly what she was expecting. She finds that she has a hard time supporting herself as a struggling writer and the only job she can find involves doing fluff pieces for a morning news show. In addition, she discovers that she has a ghost named Donald living in her apartment who wants her assistance in scribing his life stories.

In many ways, this novel was a coming-of-age story for Eve. Even though she wasn't exactly a typical character for a coming-of-age book because of her age, Eve still changed and evolved a great deal in this novel -- from a naive and insecure young woman to a confident and outspoken woman. In addition to discovering things about herself, she also learned about her mother and was better able to understand her and her relationship with Eve and her father.

I also loved Donald, the grumpy old ghost who lived in Eve's apartment. Not only was he a vehicle for Eve to learn about the 1960s Village and the artists who lived there, but he also provided a great deal of humor in this story. I found myself laughing at his curmudgeonly behavior and his demanding presence, but I also thought his writing was pretty hysterical. And good old Donald did have a softer side too. I loved how he managed to touch my heart through a few of his actions toward the end of the story.

Another part of this novel that I enjoyed was the setting. I was fortunate enough to visit Greenwich Village twice in May and I fell in love it. It has so much history and beautiful buildings and stores (and so on!) and I can see why artists and bohemians still flock to this area. I especially appreciated how the author incorporated so much of the Village's history into the book and I thought she did a fabulous job of describing the area.

The author has a fun website for those of you who are interested in learning more about Greenwich Village. (I'm definitely included in this group because I love learning about the Village!) There is a video about the 1960s Greenwich Village as well as a map showing the locations where famous authors lived. I'm happy to say that I "visited" a few of these on my two walking tours!

I wasn't able to find a formal reading guide for THE GHOST OF GREENWICH VILLAGE, but I do think it would be a fun book to discuss. It wasn't exactly literary fiction, but it was a cute story and it did delve into a few serious topics. Some of the themes that you might want to further explore include mother/daughter relationships, fresh starts, staying true to one's self, self-discovery, friendships, loyalty, romance/love, secrets and community. And if you wanted your meeting to be extra-special, you could combine it with a tour of Greenwich Village.

THE GHOST OF GREENWICH VILLAGE was a delightful book. I thoroughly enjoyed Eve (and Donald's) story as well as the historical information about the Village. Overall, I recommend this book to fans of chick lit, ghost stories, coming-of-age stories, mysteries, and love stories. It has a little something for everyone!

Thanks to a friend for sharing her copy of this novel.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Since I was a kid I've always loved ghost stories, especially when the ghosts don't have ill intentions! (Alright, I like the creepy ones too.) That is like brain candy for me.

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like this book has a little something for everyone. The history of Greenwich Village sounds great to me!

Swapna said...

I went back and forth on this one, and decided against it, but you're making me rethink that!!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I guess ghosts are coming back in fiction! I love friendly ghosts too (Caspar was always a favorite of mine! LOL)

Serena said...

I love ghost stories, one of the reasons I love Karen White's Tradd Street books. Sounds like this is a good book for writers and others

Kailana said...

This sounds good. I haven't read any ghost stories lately...