Tuesday, 24 December 2019

The Abbot's Ghost by Louisa May Alcott + #FreeBook

The Abbot's Ghost by Louisa May Alcott
First published under the pen name A M Barnard in 1867.

How I got this book:
Downloaded via Project Gutenberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maurice Traherne is wrongly accused of fraud and gambling and must play a careful hand if he is to win his love, Octavia, from the grasp of other, less honorable men and retain the trust of those who had faith in him. Traherne is temporarily crippled saving the life of his well-born friend, Jasper. Thus, Jasper is assured of inheriting his father's estate, but it is expected that Traherne will inherit great wealth as gratitude for saving the heir. But--surprise!--on the death of Jasper's father all are shocked to learn that Traherne has been disinherited: the will has been changed at the last minute and only the suffering Traherne knows why but won't tell and then he falls in love with Jasper's sister, the fair Octavia. However, Octavia is forbidden to marry, as Traherne is penniless.

I wanted to find a short ghost story, preferably a free one, for a traditional Christmas Eve blog post so was delighted when Project Gutenberg showed me The Abbot's Ghost by Louisa May Alcott - it's a ghost story and a Christmas story in one, plus at one point the characters are telling each other ghost stories on Christmas Eve. I don't think I could have found a more apt tale to feature than this! It's a gothic story of a country house gathering where a young woman is persuaded to abandon her love for her disabled cousin in favour of a more socially acceptable match. Over the course of Christmas week, guilty secrets are uncovered and the eponymous ghost puts in an unwelcome appearance.

Admittedly, The Abbot's Ghost isn't the best example of Alcott's talent as a writer although I found it a pleasant enough diversion for a couple of hours. Perhaps this is why it was originally published under a pseudonym? The storyline is surprisingly compelling and the characters become more distinct as the tale progresses. I kept muddling people up early on which made everything more confusing than it needed to be! There's lots of repressed emotion and characters trying to coolly pretend they're not madly in love with unsuitable partners. Throw in eerily screeching peacocks and easily frightened servants, improbable peril and a heartbreaking death scene, and you've got an entertaining seasonal read!

Etsy Find!
by The Huge Manatee in
Ballarat, Australia

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Books by Louisa May Alcott / Christmas stories / Books from America

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