The Telling by Jo Baker
Vintage, 368 pages
eBook review copy, 368 pages
The Telling by Jo Baker is a recommended, atmospheric ghost story that alternates between two time periods, contemporary and Gothic.
Rachel's mother has died and she has went to pack up and clean out the house
called Reading Room Cottage that her parents had purchased for a
vacation home for their retirement. She had planned to get the chore
done quickly, especially since she left her husband Mark, and a new baby
at home, but soon realizes that it is going to take longer. Two
centuries before this, housemaid Lizzy had lived in the same house.
Lizzy found the books of their new lodger, Mr. Moore, irresistible.
Today, Rachel is inexplicably drawn to the bookcase and certain books
and titles that Lizzy previously read.
Baker brings the lives of both women into sharp focus in alternating
chapters, although the period details and class inequalities of Lizzy's
time will appeal much more to those who enjoy historical fiction. While
this is a ghost story, this is not a creepy novel. It consists more of
two parallel stories that are set in the same cottage. The actual
haunting doesn't really feel convincing to me. Nothing firmly connected the two women beyond the cottage itself.
The writing is quite good and the historical descriptions interesting,
but, even though I enjoyed the book, it ended up being a satisfactory
read but nothing special for me. Lizzy's story was more compelling than Rachel's for me.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Vintage for review