Longlisted for the 2020 Grand Prix de littérature américaine
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 (Top 10)
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2017
Indie Next Summer 2018 Pick For Reading Groups
The haunting tale of a desolate cottage, and the hair-thin junction between this life and the next, from bestselling National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin.
After his mother's death, eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his great aunt, a reclusive painter with a haunted past. Aunt Charlotte, otherwise a woman of few words, points out a ruined cottage, telling Marcus she had visited it regularly after she'd moved there thirty years ago because it matched the ruin of her own life. Eventually she was inspired to take up painting so she could capture its utter desolation.
The islanders call it "Grief Cottage," because a boy and his parents disappeared from it during a hurricane fifty years before. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has stood empty ever since. During his lonely hours while Aunt Charlotte is in her studio painting and keeping her demons at bay, Marcus visits the cottage daily, building up his courage by coming ever closer, even after the ghost of the boy who died seems to reveal himself. Full of curiosity and open to the unfamiliar and uncanny given the recent upending of his life, he courts the ghost boy, never certain whether the ghost is friendly or follows some sinister agenda.
Grief Cottage is the best sort of ghost story, but it is far more than that--an investigation of grief, remorse, and the memories that haunt us. The power and beauty of this artful novel wash over the reader like the waves on a South Carolina beach.
A young boy obsessed with a haunted beach shack searches for meaning amid catastrophic loss in National Book Award finalist Godwin's (Flora) chilling novel. After Marcus's mother dies, the 11-year-old leaves with his great-aunt Charlotte to live on a small South Carolina island. Marcus receives little comfort from the laconic, reclusive painter, but falls easily into an unexpected role as her caretaker and companion. Analytical beyond his years but lacking an adult's skepticism, Marcus becomes entranced by the ramshackle cottage that Charlotte has painted for countless commissions over the years. After being told a family had disappeared there 50 years earlier, Marcus seeks answers long buried by time. The book moves between the fantastical and the everyday with ease; Marcus is just as likely to shop for his elderly neighbors as to whisper encouragement to loggerhead hatchlings or offer friendship to the restless spirits of the island. But nothing and no one on the island can break free of the forces that build and destroy, that give life and bring death. As time pushes him forward, Marcus must decide how to grieve: to raze his identity completely or memorialize his tragedies. His choice and its consequences will echo with readers, and Godwin's forceful prose captivates with the quiet, renewing power of a persistent tide.