Cover image for Ghosts : the story of a reunion
Ghosts : the story of a reunion
Plass, Adrian.
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Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan, [2003]

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223 pages ; 22 cm
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Mourning the death of his wife, David Herrick reluctantly accepts a reunion invitation by his former youth group members at a haunted house, at which the attendees share stories of lost faith, broken hearts, and compromised ideals. Original.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bright and Moser's Sister Circle is the upbeat tale of widow Evelyn Peerbaugh, whose husband has left her only enough money for burial. Evelyn's conservative son points out that his mother isn't qualified to do much, and what's more, she's 55. Evelyn decides to open her house to boarders, who not very convincingly all turn out to be women of similar persuasions. These sisters in the Lord pray, share secrets, and cry together as in a hundred similar novels, many of which have been published by Tyndale; but certainly this one is unexceptionable, and slick. Less slick but funnier is Dunn's Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves, featuring amateur sleuth Ruby Taylor. Ruby once ran in the fast lane but now is slowly going to seed at a feed store in Montana. She decides to play detective when a friend is left at the altar. This smacks of Ruby's own romantic history, but the infamous groom may have been murdered. Dunn misses the mark with some of her details--having Ruby drive a Valiant, for instance, as the requisite beat-up car, unnecessarily dates the narrative. But Ruby's one-liners are a delight: "In all the fantasies I've had about being a great athlete, bowling has never come up." And Ruby, a gawky six-footer, is endearing as she primes her tired old psyche for one last go at love. Groot's lyrical and affecting first novel, The Brother's Keeper, is the story of James, brother of Jesus. With Joseph dead, James has been left to mind the store. Jesus is a wild man, maybe a Zealot, maybe an Essene, but in any case, his preaching has offended both the Sanhedrin and the Roman authority, and tragedy looms. James senses this but soldiers on, trying to hold together his fragile extended family and his business--even as tourists show up, anxious to steal shavings from the shop floor. In the end, James understands that "he [Jesus] had to be somebody's brother." James, rather like Martha in Joyce Landorf's bittersweet I Came to Love You Late (1977), is an empty vessel when the furies descend upon his brother, and then he is filled up again. At the senior prom, Ruth Hammond, of Henke's Finding Ruth, turned down a marriage proposal from the love of her life, Paul. Ruth wanted to leave boring Brewster, North Dakota, and lead an exciting life. But like George in It's a Wonderful Life, Ruth can never get out of town. She moves in with fast-talking Jack, and they start a radio station in Brewster, but there's never enough ad money to pay the bills. When Ruth works up the nerve to kick Jack out, Paul conveniently returns to town as bank president. Henke casts this inevitable romance as made in Heaven, but it may seem to the reader like a middle-aged woman's last, manipulative stand. Even so, Henke turns in a portrait of little Brewster that is at least as vibrant as Vinita Wright's in Grace of Bender Springs (1999). Two novels have been published this year in the odd genre of Christ cloning: James BeauSeigneur's In His Image [BKL Ja 1 & 15 03], and Lankford's Jesus Thief. Lankford's narrative is as eccentric as BeauSeigneur's, but she's more interested in characterization than technical background. Her Dr. Frankenstein is a rich physician named Felix Rossi, who, with elaborate subterfuge, manages to steal some threads from the shroud of Turin. Rossi believes himself an agent of the Second Coming. He prevails upon his long-suffering girlfriend to be his Mary, but she retreats in horror. Maggie Johnson, the maid, volunteers. As it happens, she's black. And a virgin. This is great stuff, and while Lankford's thriller plot occasionally intrudes, the delightful Maggie keeps everything on track. Presumably the first installment of another of his fine medieval trilogies, Lawhead's Patrick portrays the famous saint's youth, beginning with his privileged, reckless young manhood in Wales. Patrick is captured by pirates and spends seven painful years as a slave to an Irish chieftain. At last he escapes, in some ways betraying the woman he loves, and makes his way to Gaul. He becomes a sodier, rises in the ranks, and marries a Roman noblewoman. This may be the novel's weakest point, for the reader knows Patrick's wife has to die, or he'll never return to Ireland for his true life's work. In any case, Patrick is well-researched, earthy, and full of action--about all one could desire in a historical novel. Lliteras' Jerusalem's Rain opens with Jesus' closest followers staggering aimlessly through the streets, terrified. Only hours before, they witnessed the agonies of the Crucifixion in Thieves of Golgotha (1998) and Judas the Gentile (1999). Now, defeated and confused, they snap at one another profanely, explosively, helplessly. Peter seems to go mad as he agonizes over denying his Master. Gradually, the awful night draws to a close, and Jesus appears to Peter in a vision. The Master is resurrected, and hope is rekindled, for the disciples and the world. Still--Lliteras' great achievement--a feeling of violation lingers. Jerusalem's Rain is an open wound. British writer Plass' Ghosts tells of David Herrick, a man grieving for his dead wife, Jessica. David has withdrawn into a solitary existence punctuated by dreams that seem like communications from the beyond and are full of "ghosts." With some reluctance, he accepts the invitation for a reunion of old friends from Jessica's friend Angela. Members of the group, each wounded by life in some way, talk their way through their fears, killing off ghosts one by one. Preachy, and not really a ghost story; but also graceful, and perhaps helpful for someone who has recently lost a loved one.

Publisher's Weekly Review

One of Britain's bestselling novelists seeks to engage the sensibilities of North American readers in this finely crafted and sometimes painful character-driven story of faith, loss and a reunion of old friends. The book opens with one of David Herrick's terror-filled nightmares. It's a waking incubus as well, as David muses with raw grief upon the everyday household objects that remind him of his beloved wife, Jessica, who has recently died. When a letter arrives from Jessica's best school chum, Angela Brook, David learns of one last item Jessica has left him. To procure it, he journeys to Angela's home, the ancient, crumbling, Headly Manor, which has a reputation for being haunted. Angela has put together a weekend reunion of their old St. Mark's youth group, and it is in the company of their old acquaintances that David exorcises some of his ghosts. Plass's character descriptions are refreshing in that he never succumbs to sentimentality or sidesteps more painful developments in an attempt to sugarcoat his novel or target a more conservative readership. Ghosts populate the book: of loved ones lost and of old patterns and relationships, and in the chilling accounts of a specter that may or may not haunt the ancient estate. Faith and all of its sometimes absurd trappings are portrayed with honest compassion-Plass is never bitter or harsh, but always authentic. American audiences will be delighted to discover this thoughtful and eloquent novelist and should warmly embrace this beautifully conceived and executed book. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Ghosts Copyright 2001 by Adrian PlassThis title also available as a Zondervan audio product. Visit for more information.Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530'The Road Not Taken' and 'Birches' are from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Latham, published by Jonathan Cape.Reprinted by permission of The Random House Group Ltd.Adrian Plass asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.ISBN 0 551 03110 7All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means -- electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other -- except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.Printed and bound in the United Kingdom02 03 04 05 06 07 08 /.CLY/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Part One: LossI seem to wake.My bedroom is in darkness, the rectangle of my curtainless window less black only by a margin of the deepest shade of grey. I am lying on my back, and remain in that position as if paralysed, my eyes wide open, flicking from side to side as I listen intently. My anxiety is to establish urgently the absence of sounds that would be out of place in a safe, secure house at night. In fact, the loudest sound is my own panic-stricken breathing. I fancy, in addition, that I can hear my heart throbbing and hammering against the wall of my chest. It is as though, in that crucial instant before waking, I have received an overwhelming, crushing shock.I remember! Of course I remember.The noise that destroyed my sleep was a thunderous knocking and crashing on the top and bottom of my bedroom door, a veritable rain of blows, catapulting me into consciousness with brutal, wrenching abruptness.But -- and here is the crucial question -- this wild knocking, did it happen in my sleep? Was it the final instant or climax of a dream? That is possible. I have known such things before.Or not?Could there actually be, at this very moment, a person or persons standing outside my door, waiting for me to climb from the shelter of my bed to discover the cause of such inexplicable urgency?No, that idea is foolish and illogical. If there is a man or men who have somehow forced the locks of a door in my house and made their way up my stairs, why should they take the time and trouble to hammer on my unlocked bedroom door with such grotesque violence?If their intention was originally robbery or murder, am I seriously to believe that, in the course of a short journey from the top of the stairs to this side of the landing, they have, by some obscure process, been so infected with courtesy that they now feel obliged to warn me of their presence?On the other hand, if, unfathomably, their motive is an innocent one, why do they not simply come into my room and disclose the nature of the emergency that has made it necessary for them to break into my home and disturb my sleep?No, no, the outrageous knocking was a dream. It was the end of a nightmare. I know it was. In the past I have safely woken from so many nightmares.Actually, I have woken from every single nightmare that I have ever endured. For all my life.Not all.All but one.But I have certainly woken from this nightmare of meaningless knocking, and now I shall go back to sleep. In fact, that is my plan for dealing with the situation. I shall go back to sleep. I shall close my eyes and simply drift back into sleep. Suddenly it will be morning.I close my eyes and wait for sleep to come.I wait.I cannot sleep until I have opened that door.The mindless battering and kicking on the wooden panels that woke me just now was certainly nothing more than a nightmare. However, the fact remains that I cannot sleep until I have opened that door.There will be no one there, of course. There is never anyone there. But it is necessary for the sake of my peace that I should pull that door open, look carefully round it and see with my own two eyes that the landing is empty and clear of intruders. After that sleep will come.Yes, after that sleep will come easily.I push back my bedclothes. I swing my feet to the floor. I stand and begin to feel my way carefully through the pitch darkness towards the door. I am halfway there when a cold shiver of realization passes through me.What can I have been thinking of ? My bedroom at night is never this dark.The world outside my window is never as opaque as it appears now.The window is, in any case, in the wrong place. I was mistaken. This is not my bedroom. I am not awake. I never did wake. I dreamed that I slept. I dreamed that I woke. Dear God! I thought that I was awake, but I am in a nightmare.And now I am to be driven onward by that nightmare.There is no longer a choice between continuing across this alien room and returning to the bed that I naively believed to be mine. Opening that door and confronting whatever may lie behind it is my inescapable assignment. I am close to tears at the prospect of some shrieking abyss of insanity on the other side, and I am right to be petrified.The logic of nightmare interlocks as tightly as the logic of the waking world, but the one is as far removed from the other as hope is removed from despair.I am at the door. There will be nothing. I place my hand on the handle. There will be nothing. I push the handle down. There will be nothing. I pull open the door. Oh! A scream rises in my throat like vomit, but does not emerge. It is like choking on terror.There is something. Two figures are silhouetted within the frame of the door, nearly filling the space.One is large and shambling, slightly bent over, the other smaller. I peer at them but cannot make out the features of either.They do not speak.They do not move.Why, in God's name, do they say and do nothing? It is as if they know that by remaining silent and motionless they will bring me to the sharpest, uppermost pinnacle of this shrieking spiral of fear.I say, my voice contained within a thin, parchment-like skin of selfcontrol,' Yes, can I help you? Did you want something?'I cannot see their mouths, but I know that they are grinning horribly in the darkness now. They are amused by the grovelling terror that makes me say stupid, polite things to people who have callously broken into my house and smashed their fists and feet against my door.They have won.Again.Yet again I perceive that I am what I am. I am so full of trembling hysteria that I fear my spirit will unravel or disintegrate.My sole advantage is the certain knowledge that this is a dream. I may have learned the truth in time. I am not awake.This is a dream. I can escape.There is a way of escape. Surely nightmare is not permitted to break its own rules.As the larger figure makes a sudden slight movement in my direction, I close my eyes and allow everything that I am to fall back on to the smooth, yielding darkness behind me. Releasing body and mind, I slide at ever-increasing speed down the long, steep slopes of a strangely exhilarating descent into abandonment.In a final rush of excitement and dread I collide soundlessly with the real world, perspiring and trembling, awake in my own bed, my heart filled with a dark emotion that is much less and much more than the fear of nightmare.There is an old schoolboy joke that goes, 'How do you know when an elephant's been in your fridge?'The answer is,'You can tell by the footprints in the butter.'Losing someone you have loved and lived with carries echoes of that silly joke.The one who was half of your existence is gone, but, between them, the vastness of her life, and the elephantine, Jurassic creature called death, leave paradoxically tiny marks or footprints all Excerpted from Ghosts: The Story of a Reunion by Adrian Plass All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.