The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman



The Ghost Orchid The Ghost OrchidCarol Goodman; Ballantine Books 2007WorldCat

In the late 1800’s Aurora Latham turned the large, secluded family estate in upper New York state into an artist colony. Now, over 100 years later, the Bosco estate is a highly regarded, invitation only artists’ creativity center. Ellis Brooks has been invited to Bosco for a year to write a novel from a short story she wrote on the final family events from 1893. Milo Latham had invited a medium to appease his wife, Aurora, over the death of three of their four children from the epidemic a year earlier. Instead, the events turned tragic.

Ellis is now secluded at Bosco with two other writers, a man famous for one excellent novel and an art critic who is writing her biography of Aurora Latham, a landscape artist who is supposed to return the Bosco gardens to their former glory despite his misgivings, and a poet who wanders around the ruined garden as he composes sonnets. As the summer wanes Ellis likes to work outside when possible. When the landscape artist shows her around the overgrown maze, she thinks she sees a young girl hiding in the bushes. When the two get closer, the apparition resolves into a beautiful flower with the nickname of ghost orchid. But more odd things are happening at Bosco.

In 1893, Corinth Blackwell comes to Bosco at Milo Latham’s bidding to perform her medium act. Although she can see spirits, she uses a con artist’s tricks to create the fantastic tricks of a seance. Aurora Latham want Corinth to contact the three dead children that she feels have never left Bosco. Aurora wants them to continue to the afterlife and Corinth is to be the medium for the contact. Among the other guests at Bosco is a man Corinth never expected to see again, Tom Quinn. She and Tom have a history that they choose to hide now that they are in the same place over ten years after their last contact. But the ties between the people present for the seance go deeper than realized.

Now the past and the present start getting mixed up. There are connections from the current group that go back to the people and events from 1893. Ellis now is not only writing a novel but trying to solve what really happened during the final seance that year.

Carol Goodman has intertwined the two stories lines in The Ghost Orchid extremely well. The chapters switch from the present to the past. Are the chapters from the past the true happenings at Bosco or are they Ellis’ novel as she is writing it? Or are they both? The present is told in first person narrative by Ellis but the past is in third person narrative.

The Ghost Orchid presents a vivid picture of the country in upper New York both as a secluded estate in the present story and the edge of a frontier turning from the old ways to the new in the past story. The characters in the past are very well drawn. The connections throughout the story develop slowly, piquing the reader’s interest more and more as the novel progresses. This is a slightly chilling novel that is a very good read.

Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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