By Tracy Kiely
This has been a crazy summer. Normally, I look forward to being able to grab a few books and read them when we head to the beach. But this year, as I think I’ve mentioned to you before, my Muse took her vacation a bit early. And then didn’t return for four months. When she finally dragged her ass back to me, reeking of tequila and stale cigarettes, I could barely tolerate her. But, my deadline called, and so I forgave her. Sort of. The books I’d hoped to read were put aside – I had my own book to write. Vacation time came and I dutifully packed my laptop and yellow memo pad I’d scribbled various “brilliant” Muse inspired notes on. No books were packed. On the ride up, I wrote for a good six hours. I wrote the next day too. Then I did something stupid. I read a review in The Washington Post of Delia Ephron’s latest novel Siracusa. Here’s a segment:
“The story centers on two couples vacationing together in Italy. The four of them take turns telling the story, and their views of events rarely coincide. One couple is playwright Michael and magazine writer Lizzie, who live in Manhattan. The other consists of Finn, who owns a restaurant in Portland, Maine, and wife Taylor, who works for the city government there. They are accompanied by their 10-year-old daughter, Snow, so named because she was born during a blizzard.”
Okay. So, this sounds fun. But wait, there’s more:
“The couples are not close friends, but Lizzie and Finn had a brief affair 14 years earlier, when she was 29, and have kept in touch; this led to the ill-fated vacation that unfolds before us. We learn at the outset that both men, Michael and Finn, are having affairs with women back home. Michael, who has a large ego and a novel he’s struggling to finish, is bored with Lizzie. Lizzie, bright, good-hearted and sexy, is trying to keep their marriage afloat. In Italy, her ex-lover Finn pursues her, but she insists on being faithful to Michael. Neither man likes the other, and the same is true of the two women.”
Right??? Oh, yeah. There’s more. Someone dies. So, yes. I was a gonner. I downloaded the book (oh, damn you Kindle!) and read it cover to cover in maybe 12 hours. I loved it. I told all my friends to read it, so I can talk to someone about it. None of them have so far and it’s a little frustrating.
But now I’m back with my Muse and we are plugging away. The end is in sight. I figure that I’ll be done in time to read my usual autumnal selection. Barbara Michaels’ Ammie, Come Home. Set in Georgetown in the late 1960s, it’s a story of a haunted house, a possession, and a tragic murder. Here’s the description from Amazon:
“It begins as a lark -- a harmless diversion initiated by Washington, D.C., hostess Ruth Bennett as a means of entertaining her visiting niece, Sara. But the séance conducted in Ruth's elegant Georgetown home calls something back; something unwelcome ... and palpably evil. Suddenly Sara is speaking in a voice not her own, transformed into a miserable, whimpering creature so unlike her normal, sensible self. No tricks or talismans will dispel the malevolence that now plagues the inhabitants of this haunted place -- until a dark history of treachery, lust, and violence is exposed. But the cost might well be the sanity and the lives of the living.”
I’ve read it perhaps twenty times, and it still manages to scares the crap out of me. Barbara Michaels herself said that she’d stay up late into the night when she was writing it, and then would end up scaring herself. But she is a master spooky storyteller. She hooks you into her supernatural web, slowly building the tension and the story, and, all the while, making it all very believable.
So, if your like a ghost (or two) on Halloween, I would highly recommend this book.
Just make sure you leave the lights on.