Top Ten Tuesday: Unconventional Ghosts

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

October 27: Halloween Freebie

These aren’t the kind of ghost stories that you’re used to. These ghosts all have something a bit different, a bit unconventional about them. But if you’re up for something different this spooky season, check them out!

1. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella– When Lara’s great aunt Sadie turns up and asks a favor, Lara’s in for a rough ride. Great aunt Sadie has been dead for a while, but she has some definite ideas about how Lara should live her life!

2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger– When their aunt Elspeth dies, she leaves twins Julia and Valentina her apartment in London: there’s just one stipulation. They have to live in it together for a year before selling it, and their parents can’t come inside. Elspeth’s ghost is there too of course!

3. Rebecca by  Daphne DuMaurier– Rebecca is dead from the very first page of this one, and she stays dead throughout. But her specter haunts everyone from her housekeeper to her husband, to his new wife.

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield– I can’t say much about the nature of the ghost in this book without dropping some big spoilers, so I’ll just say it’s not what you’d expect.

5. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan– Artist Eben Adams is fascinated when he meets Jennie, a young girl who chats about things that happened long before her time. But the next time he meets Jennie, she’s aged several years. He comes to realize that Jennie is a spirit outside of her own time, and she’s come looking for him. This also has a film version.

6. The Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams– Again, talking much about the nature of the ghost in this book would involve spoilers, but I do appreciate the ambiguity of the haunting here.

7. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz- The title character in this book is a short order cook who communicates with the dead. This is actually the beginning of a series but I only read the first book, since I felt it worked well as a stand alone and didn’t want to ruin that. There’s also a film adaptation.

8. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman- In Gaiman’s take on The Jungle Book, a living boy is raised by ghosts in a cemetery.

9. A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle– In this novel, two ghosts in a cemetery find the love of their lives, after their lives are over.

10. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders- In 1862, a year in the civil war, Abraham Lincoln lost his eleven year old son, Willie. Newspapers reported that the distraught president returned to the crypt to see his son’s body. From this seed of historical fact, Saunders creates a novel of voices from the Georgetown graveyard, where a struggle breaks out over young Willie’s soul.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Married Couples

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

February 12: Favorite Couples In Books

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Since so many romances roll the credits when the central couple gets married, I decided to do a favorite married couples list. These characters keep the romance (and/or major drama!) going strong long after the wedding.

51dxbewzuil-_ac_us218_1. Anne and Gilbert in The “Anne” series by LM Montgomery- These were sort of a  given for me.  They’ve been my idea of a great fictional couple since I was a kid. They grow up together, they grow apart and come back together again. They give each other space to thrive and they’re always there for each other if things go wrong. They tied the knot in Anne’s House of Dreams, book 5 (out of an 8 book series). Even though the last two books in the series focus more on their children, there’s plenty of Anne and Gilbert drama post marriage in book 6, Anne of Ingleside.

517zcqxmvll-_ac_us218_2. Valency and Barney in The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery- This stand alone novel features Valency, a spinster who gets some bad news from the doctor. In an attempt to seize the day, she asks Barney to marry her. It’ll make her happy and, and it’ll only last for about a year… But Barney finds happiness with Valency and soon the terms of their marriage aren’t acceptable to him. He wants more time… But there are indications even before the wedding that there might be something special between these two. I missed them on first read, but I picked up on a few after a recent reread.

51ozv7qacul-_sx260_3. Claire and Jamie in the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon- These two really make each other better. Jamie’s a smart fellow and being with a woman from the future opens his mind to new ways of thinking. Claire is challenged by sexist thinking whether she’s in the 20th century or the 18th but being with someone who believes in her absolutely encourages her to challenge those systems right back. They get married about halfway through the first book and the series is currently 8 books and they’re still going strong.

51vxh2jgv8l-_ac_us218_4. Scarlet and Rhett in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- Scarlet may have her eyes elsewhere for most of the book, but if she’d been married to Ashley Wilkes she’d have walked all over him to the point where he’d have been a slip of paper on the floor in about a week. She and Rhett get married around midway through the book. Rhett is someone who can match her wit for wit,  manipulation for manipulation. Scarlet is used to having the upper hand but Rhett challenges her for it and sometimes claims it for himself. For other partners, they’d be toxic. But for each other they’re pretty perfect, which is why I maintain that they’ll eventually work it out.

41ufepph-wl-_ac_us218_5. Maxim DeWinter and his second wife in Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier- I don’t think it’s a good sign when we don’t know the second wife’s first name, but the first wife is the title of the book! But the unnamed narrator this novel feels tormented by her husband’s beautiful, beloved late wife.  I think that’s probably a common experience to some extent (albeit with less Gothic twists than this novel!). Marrying a widow or widower means accepting their previous spouse and whatever feelings may linger.

51pclzvhwel-_ac_us218_6. Henry and Claire in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger– These two definitely have a weird relationship thanks to Henry’s Chrono-Displacement Disorder. It means that Henry (who unintentionally time travels) occasionally meets his wife as a kid, and sometimes runs into her after she’s widowed… But they make it work! It’s not always what I’d call healthy but it’s certainly a marriage that faces some unique challenges.

 

51bumg7jwll-_ac_us218_7. Ruth and Quin in The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson– Ruth is separated from her family when they’re immigrating to England after Hitler invades Austria. Now the Austrian-Jewish Berger family is safe in London except for Ruth. Family friend Quinton Sommerville is a British citizen and he offers to help: he and Ruth will get married. They can get into England together and once there, they can get the marriage annulled. But the best laid plans often go awry… An annulment turns out to be more complicated than expected and when Quin and Ruth start to fall in love, things get even more unpredictable.

51mssp4enl._ac_ul436_ 8. Henry and Margaret in Howard’s End by EM Forester– In a lot of ways these two are an odd couple. Henry is a wealthy industrialist with three children from a previous marriage. Margaret is a spinster with progressive politics and intellectual passions. But they legitimately like one another. The marriage faces challenges from day one, ranging from Margaret’s good hearted but flighty sister, to Henry’s checkered past and his  hostile children. But the biggest challenges come from their different ways of seeing and responding to the world.

71a-uqdbfwl._ac_ul436_9. Sir Percy Blackney and Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy– It’s the French Revolution and aristocrats are falling prey to Madame Guillotine. Their only hope is The Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues them from their fate with the aid of daring disguises. Lady Marguerite Blackney is married to Sir Percy, a man who seemed to love her during their courtship only to reveal himself to be a rather dim witted fop.  When her beloved brother is arrested and facing execution, she’s told that she might save him if she helps the French Republic find the Scarlet Pimpernel. Most readers will be able to guess the Scarlet Pimpernel’s true identity based on that synopsis, but it’s still a lot of fun.

51nbhw4ql8l-_ac_us218_10. Carl and Annie in Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith– This book looks and Carl and Annie’s first year of marriage. They got married against the wishes of their parents in 1927 and left their native Brooklyn so that Carl could attend law school in the Midwest. They face challenges ranging from loneliness to poverty.  But they push through with loyalty and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Time Travel

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

This week’s topic was

August 7: Books You’d Mash Together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined) (Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)

But I wasn’t really feeling it, so I decided to do my own thing and look at some favorite time travel stories.

51usp91evll-_ac_us218_1. The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis– This novel is the first in Willis’ Oxford Time Travel series dealing with time traveling Oxford historians. It’s the only one I’ve read so far, but the others are very much on my TBR. Set in the near future, historians often time travel to observe the past. Kirvin, a historian specializing in medieval history goes to the year 1320. But she gets sick as soon as she gets there and is moved from her “drop point”  by rescuers from a nearby manor. Shortly after Kirvin travels, Oxford suffers an influenza epidemic. While she was traveling back time, a technician (who was ill) input the wrong code, sending Kirvin to the year 1348, during the Black Death. With illness overwhelming people in both timelines, a rescue mission is attempted to get Kirvin back where she belongs.

51xphws9jdl-_ac_us218_2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon– When WWII ends, British combat nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank take a second honeymoon. They’ve been apart for most of the war and need to reconnect. When Claire goes to pick some flowers near a circle of standing stones, she somehow ends up in 1743. She meets up with the Mackenzie clan, a group of highlanders traveling back to their home, and provides some much needed medical care. Suspected of being a British spy, the Mackenzies bring her back with them to their home. But when Frank’s ancestor, the sadistic redcoat, Jack Randall, wants to take Claire, prisoner, the only way to escape his reach is to marry a Scot. Enter Jamie Fraser. He’s got a price on his head and a back full of scars (both thanks to Jack Randall) and he’s willing to help her out.  Claire is conflicted (is it technically bigamy if Frank hasn’t been born yet?)  but desperate. She marries Jamie, planning to return to the stones and the twentieth century as soon as she can get away. What she doesn’t anticipate is the soul-deep connection she and Jamie form. By the time she finds herself back at the stones, she must decide where she really belongs.

51541s04lal-_ac_us218_3. Time and Again by Jack Finney- Si Morley is a thirty-something advertising artist, who is recruited to join a secret government experiment in time travel. Aside from the chance to get away from his fairly dull life, Si’s friend, Kate, has a half-burned letter from 1882 and he wants to find out the truth behind it. Si has no intention of changing the past, but he finds himself drawn into the lives of the people in the boarding house where he’s staying. Especially Julia, a young woman who is marrying a fellow whom Si suspects might be a nasty piece of work. While the government in the twentieth century is having conflicts about how time travel should be used, Si finds himself amidst ethical and romantic conflicts in both centuries. This book has a sequel called From Time to Time, which I haven’t read, but this book can definitely work as a standalone.

51brip0dil-_ac_us218_4. Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson– Just to avoid confusion, this novel was originally titled Bid Time Return. The title was changed when it was adapted for a film (which is very different from the book, but I also recommend it). Richard Collier is a playwright who is staying in a historic hotel in San Deigo. He sees a picture of an actress, who performed at the hotel in 1897. Something about the photograph strikes him and he begins to research the life of the actress, Elise McKenna. As he learns about this woman’s life, he becomes sort of obsessed with her and travels back in time via hypnosis. He meets Elise McKenna at the hotel, and they fall in love, to the dismay of her manager who just can’t believe that Richard doesn’t object to Elise continuing to work as an actress after she marries Richard. But can Richard stay in the past forever?

51cmzm27jl-_ac_us218_5. Replay by Ken Grimwood– Jeff Winston is a forty-three-year-old man, who is a little bored with his life. Until he has a fatal heart attack and wakes up again at the age of eighteen. He still remembers his life until the age of forty-three, even though that hasn’t happened yet. So Jeff decides to live his life over again. He makes some very good bets on sports and in the stock market and becomes wealthy.  He rectifies previous mistakes. And then he reaches the age of forty-three, dies again, and wakes up at the age of eighteen. On each go-round, Jeff gains something that he’s reluctant to lose. Even more so when he discovers that he’s not the only person on this weird little carousel. In other hands, this could feel redundant, meeting the same characters and seeing the same events over and over. But Grimwood wisely keeps his focus on Jeff as a character and how he changes in each incarnation; the new understandings he gains and the things he can’t bear to leave behind.

51pclzvhwel-_ac_us218_6. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger- Henry suffers from Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Occasionally he finds himself pulled to moments in his life that have a strong emotional significance. He falls in love with Clare and they get married. Clare and Henry try to live normal lives with steady jobs and children, in spite of Henry’s condition.  A lot of Clare’s time is spent waiting for Henry. She meets a thirty-six-year-old Henry when she is only a child because Future Henry traveled back in time. She spends much of her childhood waiting to meet him in her own timeline. Though each chapter has the date on which it takes place, we often encounter Henry at a different age than the age he would be at that date. In some cases, we also encounter duplicate Henrys (his current self, meeting his future self) which can get a bit confusing. But if you give it time and thought it’s very much worth the effort.

51tyxvqweyl-_ac_us218_7. The House on the Strand by Daphne DuMaurier– Professor Magnus Lane is spending the summer in London, so he gives his friend, Dick Young his Cornwall house to stay in. Dick arrives a bit before the rest of his family and Lane persuades him to take an experimental drug that will send him back in time. When Dick takes the drug, he witnesses a drama in the same Cornwall location 600 years earlier. This drama is compelling enough for Dick to disregard the danger and take the drug again and again, in order to see more. His addiction begins to take a toll on his twentieth-century life. Eventually, he comes to confuse the two eras, which has a destructive effect on Dick’s marriage and his family. The reader is aware that the drug is detrimental, but we’re in a similar position to Dick. We also want to know how events in the 14th century will play out, so we want Dick to take it “just one more time” to see what happens.

51t3kmsupxl-_ac_us218_8. The Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon– In 1975, single mother Lux Lysander is overworked and underpaid. When her five-year-old son goes to visit his grandparents Lux decides to take a vacation herself. She goes to Sonoma Valley. One night, she sees a point of light in the distance. She goes to see what it is and finds herself in a sunlight field. The people she meets dress and speak like they’re from another time. Because they are.  Greengage is cut off from the rest of the world and from time itself. They are stuck in the early twentieth century. Unlike the residents of Greengage, Lux seems to have the ability to come and go. She is drawn to Greengage and the people who live there. It’s the only place she’s ever really felt completely at home. But her beloved son is very much a child of the modern world.

51islkdgaql-_ac_us218_9. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway– In 1815, Lord Nicholas Davenant dies on a Napoleonic battlefield. Or so it seems. He actually went forward in time 200 years, and finds himself in the early 21st century, being taken care of by a secret society called The Guild. Told that he can’t return to his own time, Nick makes a life for himself. But several years later, he’s contacted by The Guild again and told that he needs to return to his own time and find a mysterious enemy who has a device that controls time. In the nineteenth century, Nick’s childhood acquaintance Julia Percy’s grandfather dies. Julia’s grandfather had a secret. He could stop time, and Julia seems to share that ability. This will bring her back into Nick’s life as they find themselves caught up in a historical conspiracy.

51uj1ebhu0l-_ac_us218_10. Lightning by Dean Koontz– Laura Shane was born on a  dark and stormy night in 1955. A mysterious stranger showed up and prevented a drunk doctor from attending the difficult delivery, thereby indirectly saving Laura’s life. This same stranger turns up at several points during Laura’s life, saving her each time. When she grows up, the man, whose name is Stefan, once again saves the widowed Laura and her young son, Chris. Now he tells Laura who he is and where he’s come from. She and Chris and the world they live in are in terrible danger. At first, the explanation seems like a letdown (it did to me at least) but the time travel paradoxes provide an additional twist, that made things more interesting.