Saturday, November 25, 2017
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen: Reading Room Review
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen was just the perfect book for me to read at this time. As I am unpacking Christmas decorations and putting ornaments on the tree, I couldn't have asked for a better book to start bringing out my Christmas spirit. I am a fan of all the Molly Murphy books, but this one was was so timely and its story was such a gift. I had thought to save it for closer to Christmas, but I'm so happy that I didn't wait.
Molly has had a most trying year in 1906, with the nightmare of being in the San Francisco earthquake and suffering a miscarriage. Husband Daniel's job with the NYCPD is in jeopardy due to his commitment to honor and not Tammany Hall. And, Bridie's father has contacted Molly and Daniel saying he plans to return and take Bridie, their precious ward, back to Ireland with him. Depression has settled in to haunt Molly, and she is hoping for a nice, quiet Christmas at home in Patchin Place in Greenwich Village with Daniel, son Liam, and Bridie. When Daniel's mother arranges for them to be invited to a mansion on the Hudson in the country where she is staying, along with her young maid-in-training Ivy, for Christmas, Daniel decides it will be a good change of pace and a relaxing opportunity for Molly. So, off they go to experience a grand style Christmas in a picturesque setting.
However, it doesn't take long for Molly to get a sense of all not being right with their hosts, the Van Aikens. Learning of their daughter's disappearance ten years prior when the girl was only three years at Christmas time old helps to explain Winnie Van Aiken's melancholy state. Winnie's husband Cedric seems quite past it though. There is much to enjoy at this magnificent estate for Molly and her family over the holidays, and it does help to lift Molly's spirits. More of the old Molly comes back when a young girl appears at the Van Aikens' door on Christmas Eve claiming to be their long-lost daughter Charlotte, and Molly works her investigative skills trying to put the pieces of this extraordinary puzzle together. There are some great unexpected twists that only make sense when the whole picture is revealed.
For those of us who are steadfast followers of the Molly Murphy series, you will be delighted with this new addition. Although it has some darkness to it, I didn't at any point feel that as the overwhelming tone. For those who are just now reading the first Molly Murphy in this Christmas book, you too will be thrilled, and, of course, you will develop a great desire and need to go back and read the series from the beginning. Rhys Bowen is such a master storyteller, combining the elements of character, plot, and setting into tales that captivate the reader. The historical details that run throughout this series and Bowen's Lady Georgie series are smoothly intertwined and spot on accurate. It's not hard to imagine how readers become invested in this author's characters, who are both true to their period of time and yet wanting more of their lives and the world. Take a look at The Ghost of Christmas Past's cover and know that what's inside is as wonderful as the outside.