06 May 2020

Review: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin cover
Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin begins when eleven year old Marcus is sent to live with his eccentric Great Aunt in South Carolina after the death of his mother. Aunt Charlotte is a reclusive artist with a drinking problem and Marcus is welcomed into her little house on the beach. Marcus is an extremely bright and considerate boy who was likeable - if not 100% believable - from the very first page.

Aunt Charlotte is divorced and well known in the area for painting a tumbledown house known by locals as Grief Cottage. Located within walking distance, Marcus takes to visiting the ruined cottage every day where he becomes a little obsessed with the story of a nameless family (including a young boy) who went missing during a hurricane fifty years earlier.

Marcus and Aunt Charlotte both have secrets from their past and as they get to know each other, they begin to trust one another. Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin contains a number of mysteries, including the identity of Marcus's father, the truth of Charlotte's childhood trauma and the ghost of the boy lost during the hurricane.

After spending so much time with Marcus in the summer of his 11th year, the great leaps forward in time towards the end of the book felt incredibly out of place. I wouldn't have minded another 50-100 pages to follow Marcus on his first day at the new school, through to his Aunt's passing, embarking on his chosen career and other key moments in life. Instead these milestones and events were completely skipped over, and we suddenly catch up with Marcus in his late twenties early thirties which was a real jolt.

There was a nice mystery solved at the end of the book, but the timing of it felt contrived and poorly revealed without much explanation. Handled more skilfully, this could have been an incredibly moving 'reveal' but instead it was ill-timed and just fell flat for me.

Marcus, Aunt Charlotte and family friend Lachicotte were wonderful characters but I felt robbed of a suitable ending to their individual and collective stories.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:
★ ★ ★

Would you like to comment?

  1. A shame about the ending, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. It's disappointing when a book leaves you feeling a bit robbed!

    1. It was travelling along so well and then I was wrenched out of my bubble and thrust somewhere else for a short time and then it was over. Strange, it was probably nearing a 4 star read in the first 3/4 of the novel.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!