“Grief Cottage” by Gail Godwin, is a coming-of age story about an 11-year-old boy who has to face an entirely new way of living with an aunt he has never met after his mother dies unexpectedly.
This riveting story involves imagined ghosts of the kind that force the boy, Marcus, to seek companionship from an unlikely source: another boy who was killed in a hurricane years before on a South Carolina island while vacationing at the now-dilapidated house called “Grief Cottage.”
Desperate for the companionship of someone near his own age, and driven by a desire to come to terms with his mother’s death, Marcus repeatedly visits only the entrance to the cottage where he imagines he sees the boy.
Marcus feels unworthy of the boy’s attention, which he feels he is receiving, and psychologically tries to draw closer to the ghost-boy with various behaviors that he hopes make him seem braver than he really is. The novel concludes satisfactorily, but not comfortably, ending the boy’s quest and providing answers to a very murky mystery surrounding the island.
Marcus’ aunt, an independent artist of some renown, and other unforgettable characters help Marcus discover who he is and where he belongs, including a very Southern older gentleman/businessman, and a neighbor who visits the island.
Gail Godwin is the author of one of my favorite books, “A Mother and Two Daughters,” and it was a delight to read another book of hers that includes memorable characters and a marvelous setting.