Grief Cottage

Grief Cottage

A Novel

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.
Publisher: New York, New York : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
Copyright Date: ©2017.
ISBN: 9781632867049
Characteristics: 328 pages ;,21 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 12, 2018

Wow, was this book ever bad! Godwin, an accomplished writer according to her bio, has written one poorly constructed, ill-conceived and contrived piece of rubbish. The so-called haunted house – Grief Cottage – and the ghost of the boy who haunts it, hardly figure in the story – at least not until the end. So, if you pick this up thinking it’s a ghost story, you’ll be disappointed. But then if you pick it up thinking it is going to be a well-written, incisive exploration of the grief of a young boy dealing with the death of his mother and trying to find his place in the world, then you’ll also be disappointed. Godwin fails at that, too.

The novel is rife with characters giving long explanatory speeches that are supposed to pass as dialogue, but just come off as stilted and artificial. They also remember obscure details about things that happened years ago because … well, the novel is dependent on these numerous incongruous and annoying plot devices in order to move the ridiculous plot along. When Godwin isn’t spoon feeding you details essential to the plot, then she’s giving you banal, superfluous details that any decent editor would have redlined – like the giving the house address of a character twice on the same page! There is a lot of filler in this novel.

And then we come to a climactic scene in the novel where the main character, in crisis, imagines his dark side speaking to him and urging him to – let just say … make some bad choices – and Godwin gives this voice a name – Cutting Edge. Yes, really, she does! But Cutting Edge has his own issues, like he can’t enter the Grief Cottage with the boy because there is some talisman that prevents him from doing so, which Cutting Edge kindly relates to the boy. Of course! (Personally, I think Cutting Edge had dust allergies but was too embarrassed to say so). Needless to say, this part of the novel was so poorly constructed and creatively questionable it would be laughable if it wasn’t so preposterous.

In the finale of the novel, Godwin sews up all the loose ends – it’s all rainbows and kittens! – and the sentimentality is so thick you're likely to gag on it. This was a disappointing and inferior piece of writing from someone whose past work has received such praise.

Aug 25, 2018

The book was good but ending felt rushed to me.

ehbooklover Nov 11, 2017

I picked this one up because it involved a ghost and I luuuuurve ghost stories. However, it turned out to be more of a coming-of-age story that just happened to also involve a ghost. But that's OK, because I still really liked it. A beautifully written and atmospheric book full of realistically flawed characters that I grew to care about a great deal.

Sep 13, 2017

I enjoyed this book very much, and read it in one day. A good coming of age tale.

Jul 28, 2017

Like a small swell heading toward the shore, this coming-of-age tale languidly rolls forward, suddenly rising up into a wave only to drop, gently, onto the beach spreading its fingers across the sand and into the future. The first person narrator is a precocious, intelligent eleven year old boy who must deal with the death of his mother and having to move from poverty in West Virginia to improved circumstances on the South Carolina coast to live with his solitary great aunt artist. Grief runs through this book in many forms, across generations, and in different characters, yet it’s an uplifting story about kindness and community and healing. I can see it being made into a thoughtful, atmospheric movie.

debwalker Jul 11, 2017

"This grace-filled story probes aspects of life and death, isolation and family, and how great pain and loss can ultimately lead to unforeseen transcendence." --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top