7 March 2019
My thanks to Lovereading.co.uk for my copy of this book
Ruth has returned to Edinburgh after many years of exile, left rootless by the end of her marriage, career and now the death of her father. She is now faced with the daunting task of clearing his house.
Hidden away in a barely used top-floor room, she finds he had secretly kept a cupboard full of her mother’s possessions. Sifting through the ancient papers, Ruth discovers the diary and letters written by her ancestor from the eighteenth century, Thomas Erskine.
As the youngest son of a noble family now living in genteel poverty, Thomas always knew he would have to make his own way in the world. Unable to follow his brothers to university, instead he joins the navy, rising through the ranks, travelling the world. When he is finally able to study law, his extraordinary experiences and abilities propel him to the very top and he becomes Lord Chancellor. Yet he has made a powerful enemy on his voyages, who will hound him and his family to the death.
Ruth becomes ever more aware of Thomas as she is gripped by his story, and slowly senses that not only is his presence with her, but so is his enemy’s. Ruth will have to draw upon new friends and old in what becomes a battle for her very survival – and discover an inner power beyond anything she has imagined.
Devastating family secrets forms the basis for this interesting and complex family drama.
After her father’s death Ruth returns to the family home in Edinburgh only to find that there is someone there who wishes to infiltrate every aspect of Ruth’s life and even though her relationship with her family has been difficult, and more especially with her father, Ruth is really unhappy to learn that there are details about her family of which she knew absolutely nothing. Further exploration into her family’s dark past reiterates just how many secrets have been hidden.
As with all of this author’s previous work there is a definite shifting of time and very cleverly the story moves between the present and the eighteenth century, and as it does so a dark and ghostly atmosphere starts to pervade. The author writes with authority because in creating The Ghost Tree she has dipped into her own rather complicated family history and, in doing so, has written an emotionally charged story which is based on factual historical evidence.
To be honest I found the historical aspects of the story rather stronger that the present day story but taken as a whole I thought that the content of the book had a real authenticity to it, and all credit to the author for using her own family history in order to create such a fascinating dual time narrative.
An historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus two collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty different languages. She lives with her family in an ancient manor house near Colchester, and in a cottage near Hay-on-Wye.
I read this book as part of the Lovereading.co.uk reading panel
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