Book Report: “All the Beloved Ghosts” By Alison Macleod

all-the-beloved-ghosts

In 1920s Nova Scotia, as winter begins to thaw, a woman emerges from mourning and wears a new coat to a dance that will change everything. A teenager searches for his lover on a charged summer evening in 2011, as around him London erupts in anger. A cardiac specialist lingers on the cusp of consciousness as he awaits a new heart—and is transported to an attic room half a century ago. In an ancient Yorkshire churchyard, the author visits Sylvia Plath’s grave and makes an unexpected connection across time. On a trip to Brighton, reluctant jihadists face the ultimate spiritual test. And at Charleston, Angelica Garnett, child of the Bloomsbury Group, is overcome by the past, all the beloved ghosts that spring to life before her eyes.

Precise, playful and evocative, these exquisitely crafted stories explore memory, the media and mortality, unfolding at the line between reality and fiction. Written with vigorous intelligence and delicate insight, this collection captures the surprising joys, small tragedies and profound truths of existence.

Review:

“All the Beloved Ghosts” By Alison Macleod requires all of your attention.  But down that phone, put off that music and get settled into bed for a proper read.  Macleod challenges the reader to split threads and view a snapshot that tethers reality with fragments of fiction.

One of the most powerful stories in the novel entitled ‘Dreaming Diana:  Twelve Frame’s’ brings all kinds of giddiness.  The short story speaks to frames of time that the writer captures her paralleled romantic relationships to that of Diana and Charles.  From their early years of courting, to their marital demise and eventual death; the writer paints a portrait that demonstrates the cracks in the paint within her own marriage.

‘Above them, of time, I want to press rewind again, to spool the clock back.  I want a maid, bearing a stack of fresh sheets, to hit the ‘down’ button, stumble into their world mid-descent and delay them with her apologies.  I want her to bother Diana for a smile, a word, an autograph.  I want her to alter the sequence.  On they go.’

The writer speaks to her confusion, questioning and worry about her own relationship and reflects on it with the help of photographs of Diana in the media.  These parallels are a wonderful window into the writer’s voice and the complexities of her situation.

Stitching fiction into the texture of a collection of narratives that are fueled in truth makes for not only an interesting read but a reminder into our own existence.  How many parallels can you find within your own life to what is happening currently in the media, friends and family?  Macleod provides the literature that makes for an interesting aperitif tool towards reflection.

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/

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