‘Wow’ is what I said when I completed the book. I say this for a number of reasons –
a) The book, a work of fiction does an amazing job in raising pertinent issues like war, date-rape, ill-treatment of children- issues that have plagued societies since time immemorial. It does so while telling a story that is spread over two time periods- the 1899-1904 and 2017-2019 and as it easily glides between the periods, it ensures that it maintains the tone and language of the times so it is not confusing. The writing is flawless.
b) The book tells the history of S.Africa (which was new to me and hence very interesting to know) relating to the Anglo-Boer War. And if you think History is boring, read this book and you’ll change your opinion. The author manages to give the reader a peek into the culture of the country, the groups of people that make up its population, their food, language, religious beliefs and even shares a few recipes to make it interesting reading without making it essay-like. Her description is so good that you can taste the food, feel the pain of the characters and smell the stench in the camps.
What I found especially interesting was the worship of who the blacks call ‘ancestors.’ This custom is also followed in some parts of India where the worship involves an offering of alcohol and meat. There were other parallels too that i found in the cultures for instance the conservative approach towards raising girls as opposed to boys.
c) The author’s attention to detail is commendable and obvious in the well-rounded characters she manages to create. Descriptions of little things like the furniture of the times, the songs sung during war or the gory details of war are done to perfection.
d) The plot involves three ghosts who lived in the past and a couple in the present day who have their own dark secrets unfolds realistically. The story switches seamlessly between the past (1900) and the present (2019) while taking the reader through each character’s mind. There are no good or bad people- just humans with weaknesses that make them err.
The story is about sinning, redemption, ouija boards, tarot cards, meditation, pastors, war, destruction and family. Tell me that hasn’t tickled your curiosity.
A Ghost and his Gold- What the author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, says?
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background? – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle.
Discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
What I loved about the book?
The information about the culture of S.Africa, the narrative and the layers given to each character resulting in characters with great amount of depth. I loved that the book kept me gripped and made me feel. It took me on a journey to S.Africa – I saw the farmlands, the way of living, the courage of the soldiers and the destruction. It hurt when Boer women and children in the camps died because of shortage of food but the British did not think twice before burning their farms and killing their cattle.
The story has been approached with great sensitivity providing a voice to those who lost their lives due to war. One cannot but remember war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine while reading this book.
My favorite character
My heart went out to Estelle who is the poltergeist in the book. She died in 1904 and was not more that 13 or 14 years of age. Over the course of the story, the author paints Estelle’s picture in the minds of the reader and its a painful picture of a young girl who is treated badly by the woman who she thinks is her mother and she does not understand why, who longs for her father who is away fighting the war, who is raped by a drunk soldier at the tender age of ten and is considered a sinner by her mother and who survives the ghastly camp the family is sent to. I dare not say more for fear of giving out the story. Well, you just need to read the book to know why I loved it so much.
Who should read the story?
a) Those who like paranormal stories
b) Those who are interested in learning about the culture and history of another country. In this case, S. Africa
c) For older teens who may enjoy reading war stories. The author does a fabulous job of describing every gory detail (which I skipped). Some parts were a little too much for me to digest but for those who can stomach it, the author does not let you down.
d) And all those who wish to read a good story that’s interestingly different, that is fiction and yet is replete with facts, that at the end of it will leave you feeling a little more knowledgeable than before you read the book.
I give the book five stars. This is the second book that I have read, written by the author and all I can say is that she has done an amazing job. If you read it, you’ll know why I say so. Its not easy to write a book that goes between time periods, deals with issues that people shy away from, is fiction and yet contains a wealth of information.
The author has managed to do all of this and more to precision. I look forward to reading more books from the author.
How to get the book?
TSL Publications (paperback) https://tslbooks.uk/product/a-ghost-and-his-gold-roberta-eaton-cheadle/
Attaching a few images from the author’s blog below which will give you a better idea of why I’m floored by the writing.
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