A GHOST AND HIS GOLD: A BOOK REVIEW

A Ghost and His Gold combines the paranormal with intense violent battle scenes from 1899-1902; it features three ghosts not only haunting a house and its occupants in present-day South Africa but who are themselves haunted by events in their past lives; it’s a story about seeking forgiveness and ultimately finding redemption.

Furthermore the book explores not only the horror of war, concentration camps, scorched earth policy but also date rape, rape, violence against women. Can any ever be forgiven? Can anyone carrying out these acts ever find peace within themselves and acceptance by loved ones again?

Initially, A Ghost and his Gold appears to be a normal paranormal ghost story as Michelle and Tom, both working in the finance sector although she is also a part-time writer, move into their new home. The new townhouse is situated on the site of an old Boer homestead. Michelle immediately senses and sees a presence in the house, one that makes itself known to them and their friends during a party using an Ouija board. Tom, a hard-nosed realist, is sceptical that the man named Pieter was there or even existed.

From the close-third person narrative in 2019, the novel switches to 1900 and Pieter is in his house with the family as he is woken by banging on the door with a warning that the ‘khakis’ (British soldiers) are on the way.

It is in the midst of the Second Anglo Boer War and the events focus on Pieter, his strong-willed wife, their daughter Estelle and other children. Estelle is treated with contempt by her mother, a woman who later rejects her.

As another ghost called Robert makes itself known to Michelle, she discovers his journal written whilst he was a British soldier during the war. The first-person perspective of the journal is especially powerful, personal and direct. During the siege of Mafeking, Robert befriends a young man called Richard and he takes him under his wing.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s research of the period is impressive. Yet she does not fall into the trap of using all her knowledge with a flood of information, rather skilfully incorporates detail where necessary; be it of the furniture or buildings of the era, the form of travel, clothes and she is particularly adept at writing battles scenes, the weapons used, their tragic consequences. I felt as if I was in the midst of the carnage, feeling the horrors experienced by Robert, Pieter and the others.

Whilst Pieter and some of his family and friends have some reservations about the war, their women have no such qualms and see no other option for their ‘Volk’. Tragically they suffer dreadfully during the war and these scenes in the book are not easy to read, horrors repeated many times throughout history and alas in present times.

The third ghost is a poltergeist who first appears on Michelle’s computer screen — this part of the book had me jumping back in fright as I read it! Estelle is consumed with ferocious anger against Tom and as she starts to haunt him he suffers nightmares and becomes increasingly sick, all the time unaware of the cause of his illness. Michelle knows the cause, Estelle, but why does Estelle hate Tom with such frightening malice and enmity? Slowly I learned her history through her own third-person narrative.

Throughout the author manages the nigh-impossible; equally portraying the ruthlessness and violence of both sides as well as their humanity and warmth. It is heart-wrenching to see how the mutual loathing and hatred intensified as the battles were protracted and that both Robert and Pieter, who had briefly met in battle, lose their kindheartedness and compassion. It is only in death that they realise the true cost of war and that so many wrongs need to be righted for them to find peace, for Estelle to be freed from her path of vengeance. However, they need help and at last through Michelle, they have found it!

The finale of the book had me totally engrossed as I read late into the night, with the story building to a crescendo of action and emotional pinnacle I could see no resolution. Luckily the author had and with expertise she brings the book to a terrific conclusion and some light in the darkness.

A brief note regarding the start of the book which begins with a list of names of famous characters from the era along with a timeline of major events. I couldn’t wait to read the novel and skipped these informative pages. They are a valuable resource but feel they might be better placed at the back of the book. The shorter explanatory notes scattered throughout the novel are extremely helpful.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, or those seeking a simple ghost story or cosy read. One recommended for readers looking for a thought-provoking, action-packed novel with a rich variety of characters set in historical times with a paranormal twist!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher: TSL Publications

Available to purchase:

TSL Publications (ebook and paperback)

Lulu

Amazon

THE WRITER Q & A TAG

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With less than a week to Bloggers Bash in  London I thought this was a perfect time to introduce myself a little bit more through this Writer Q & A tag. Many thanks to Marje at K Y R O S M A G I C A for nominating me. She has a lovely varied blog and it’s always a delight to read her posts. Do pop over and have a look for yourselves.  Now to the Q & A Tag:

  1. If you met a sexy vampire what would you do? Hook up, get the garlic and crosses out or run a mile?

nosefratuBlimey, what a corker of a first question! Can vampires be sexy? The only time they’ve crossed my path is seeing Count Orlak in the 1920s film Nosferatu – definitely not sexy, just creepy so guess I’d…ruuuuunnnn!

2. What’s your favourite genre of book and why?

sisterGlancing at my bookshelves I must admit to a predominance of what is called ‘romantic fiction’. However in that case I feel the likes of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult bring that genre up a notch. Overall I read a lot of literary fiction, also some fantasy, YA books as well as humour books for light entertainment. Recently Nick Spalding’s books have been perfect for a good laugh wrapped around an easy going story.  Books I will not touch are horror – reading Cujo as a teenager was bad enough!

3. Who is/are your favourite author (s) , poet (s)? What is it about them that inspires you?

This is an impossible question! I like so many authors for various reasons…

4. If you had to control a classroom of year 6 kids would you bail, or enjoy the challenge? Would you be (a.)  too undisciplined to do so, you’d just join in the general mayhem, (b.) enjoy bossy them around, or (c.) pray in a corner for the bell to sound.

teacherI can be a bit  bossy, so would probably be (b.)  but with fun, laughter and silliness thrown in. I spent time helping in my son’s classroom from time to time and luckily never had to supervise more than ten at a time.

5. What made you become a writer/blogger? Do your family support you or do they think you’re crazy, bored,  attention seeking, or all of these? Tell us a bit about your current WIP and/or books…

blog2Like so many I started the blog as I’d read you need a ‘platform’ as a writer. Very quickly and to my joy I discovered it was so much more – the interaction with other bloggers is wonderful and the epitome of blogging.

Luckily my family are cheering me along all the way…although it’s my son who now reminds me of the no-devices-at-the-table rule! Abashed I will switch off and place it out reach. Blogging is strangely addictive.

Earlier this year I was overjoyed to have completed my first/second draft of my first novel. Island Girl is about a girl, Anna, growing up on an island off the coast of Sweden. Initially this is a paradise for her but as she matures the very island she loves, threatens to become her prison.

6. What is the most awful job and/or experience you’ve ever done/had?

I just realised that I have been very fortunate and actually enjoyed most of the jobs I’ve had. The toughest was a summer job spent baby-sitting for a couple’s two young children. I loved the job itself but it became increasingly stressful and tricky as the extremely naughty five-year-old boy was allowed to boss and hurt his three-year-old sister with impunity. Whenever I tried to put a stop to it I was reprimanded! My heart went out to the poor girl and I do wonder what the future held for her.

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does this spill out onto other parts of your life? Are you generally organised/disorganised?

virgoI’m not sure if it’s to do with being a Virgo but I am known for being very organised in my life. Around the home, planning trips, dealing with finances and always at work. Beware anyone who dared touch or alter my working system.

first-draftWith this in mind it was a surprise to myself that although my novel was sketched in my mind I started writing without a written plan. Early on though I realised this was not the best way to go – my timeline was all over the place, I kept forgetting names, events and so quickly I developed a quasi plotter/panster method using Scrivener which worked well for me! I do use their cork boards and don’t know if I could have finished without them!

8. Do you believe in Ghosts? Fate? Love at First Sight? Fairies? Psychic happenings?Numerology, Mermaids, The Loch Ness Monster, Demons…etc…

bullarI definitely believe in elements beyond our very limited realm and have had many experiences of ‘something’. In one of the houses I grew up, the lovely smell of home-baking would fill the dining room -although no one was even in the kitchen. Also a warm draft of air would pleasantly waft across my legs. Talking to older neighbours we learnt that the original house’s kitchen and oven were exactly in the place these incidents took place. Spooky but a gentle genial ghost I felt…

9. What is the worst haircut/clothes/hats you’ve ever had/worn? Photos please, or describe in vivid detail…

chick.jogMy worst hat incident occurred after I won the best made Christmas hat competition whilst at primary school. I learnt a valuable lesson that Easter – never set the bar too high at the start!  My concept was brilliant – I glowed with expectation. My hat, at first just a cardboard frame, would become the Easter chick of all Easter hats. I painted – yellow. I glued on feathers like a demon. The more I glued, the worst it looked. By then it was too late and taking it in to school (in a carrier bag!) the teacher encouraged me to place the hat on my head. I wish I could have put the bag over my head instead! The whole class, including the teacher burst into laughter. I doubt I’ve offered so much hilarity to anyone since. As tears ran down my friends cheeks I put the offending hat back into the bag. But no, it had to go on the display table…

10. Please finish this sentence with more than three extra words: Life is one foot in and one foot out, you ….

often trip up. The key is to get up, stumble along and hopefully soon enough you’ll be navigating this life safety, with joy, excitement and contentment.

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