This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Debs Carr
Jenni is a ghostwriter whose relationship with her boyfriend, Rick, is almost strained to breaking point. She has told him she doesn’t want children at any point in the future, so when she’s offered a job writing the memoirs of an elderly lady called Klara, she accepts. The problem is that Klara lives in Polvarth in Cornwall, where on 31 August 1987 Jenni’s life changed forever, and she’s not sure if she can cope with revisiting the place and memories that haunt her.
As Jenni interviews Klara and learns about the older lady's childhood in internment camps during the Second World War in Java, she discovers that she’s not the only one who is emotionally scarred by her past. While Jenni’s prison is psychological, Klara’s was a physical one, made worse by her experiences of separation, intolerable cruelty and fear. Jenni learns about Klara’s family, those she has lost and the deprivations she suffered together with her mother, father, brother and friends. Slowly, Jenni opens up to Klara and confides her secret guilt that she’s never been able to tell another soul and the older woman gradually learns to trust Jenni enough to tell her things she’s never been able to voice before now.Ghostwritten begins with a brilliantly written prologue and then delves straight into Jenni and Rick’s strained relationship and seemingly insurmountable differences. Then, as the story moves down to Cornwall where the two women meet, it is told from Jenni and Klara’s voices – the more I read, the harder it was to put this book down. Jenni’s guilt and sadness weigh heavily on her and Klara’s horrific experiences, in the heat and squalor of the camps, were heart breaking. This book is moving and desperately sad and I couldn’t help wondering what I might have done had I been the younger Jenni, or Klara, fighting to stay alive in the overcrowded camps.
An emotive story of love, loss and terrible choices that will stay with me for a long time – I loved it.