Spotlight/US Giveaway: Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Bloomsbury  June 6, 2017

Publisher’s Description:

The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.

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.


About the Author:

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including Publishing, a memoir, and the novels FloraFather Melancholy’s Daughter, and Evensong. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

Book tour schedule

NPR interview with the author


Praise for Gail Godwin:

“Something between a search for understanding and a mournful confession . . . A testament to the power of storytelling to bring solace when none other is possible.” —Washington Post on FLORA

“Remorse may be the defining emotion for our narrator, Helen, but Godwin the writer has nothing to regret: Flora is an elegant little creeper of a story.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

Flora is a beautiful examination of character and the far-reaching repercussions of our actions. Gail Godwin brings grace, honesty, and enormous intelligence to every page.” —Ann Patchett

Flora is Godwin at her best, a compelling story about Helen’s growth of consciousness told with fearless candor and the poignant wisdom of hindsight.” —Boston Globe

“A chronicle of her life as a writer whose career has been boosted and buffeted by the vagaries of the publishing industry. She has made of it a suspenseful account, with . . . emotional depth, too.” —Wall Street Journal on PUBLISHING

“A memoir in the old sense of the term, a story with a scope of five decades written by an author of some renown . . . You don’t have to be a hungry writer or an aspiring editor to appreciate Publishing. You don’t have to have followed Godwin’s career as a reader either, though the millions who have will be treated to a look behind the scenes.” —New York Times Book Review on PUBLISHING

“Godwin affectionately divulges the various moments, places, and characters in her life that eventually slipped into her 14 novels. These disclosures leave you hungry to reread her oeuvre with the newfound secrets in mind.” —Entertainment Weekly on PUBLISHING

“This memoir by the acclaimed, prolific novelist is testament to both her talent and her perseverance.” – O, the Oprah Magazine on PUBLISHING


US Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on June 14, 2017


Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

  • can't we talk about something more pleasant?Title:  Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?:  A Memoir
  • Author:  Roz Chast
  • Genre:  Memoir; Graphic
  • Published:  May 2014 – Bloomsbury USA
  • Source:  Library

Synopsis:  #1 New York Times Bestseller; 2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST FOR NONFICTION

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.  (publisher)

My take:  Roz Chast’s memoir is a candid look into her life, her relationship with her parents, and their final days. An only child, the enormous lifelong responsibility was all hers. You may be familiar with Chast’s New Yorker cartoons which I’ve always found notable for portraying the human condition. Her illustrations in this memoir are equally remarkable.

At times uncomfortable, at times relatable I found Can’t We talk about Something More Pleasant? a compelling read and recommend it to fans of graphic memoirs, the author, and anyone who finds themselves in the position of caretaker of an elderly parent.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title:  Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2)

Author:  Shannon Hale

Genre:  Fiction; Mystery; Romance

Published:  January 31, 2012 – Bloomsbury USA

About:  (from Goodreads synopsis)  When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love?

My take:  Even though Charlotte is a self-made success story in the business world she’s kind of a doormat in her personal life. She’s relegated herself to a corner and just wants to be nice (and unnoticed). When she signs on for a two-week stay at Austenland she gives herself a second chance at becoming her own person.

I liked how Charlotte came into her own at Austenland as she played the part of a young, strong-minded widow in the drama and mystery that unfolded throughout the two weeks. People listened to what she had to say – something she hadn’t experienced for a while. Shannon Hale revealed Charlotte’s real life story through back flashes between the present day chapters. That really worked for me as I grew to understand how she got to her current place in life. I really liked her and found the Austenland characters enjoyable – especially when things didn’t go as scripted! Hale’s novel is at times poignant, mysterious and funny. I love a book that makes me laugh.

All in all, I really enjoyed the second novel in the Austenland series. Need to escape your day-to-day life? This could be the book for you! I also recommend the first book: Austenland.

Source:  Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.