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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

My #Cornwall book review

As I promised - an update on my holiday reading choices (see Therapeutic Cornwall). I started with Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff.

As you'll know from if you read my previous post, I found this listed on the Trip Fiction website when I went looking for book suggestions set in Cornwall. It had many glowing reviews and sounded interesting so I got a copy to take away with me.

My review

The element of mystery intrigued me - what trauma lay behind protagonist, and ghostwriter, Jenni’s past which has created discord between her and her partner, Rick? But the subject matter of the interviewee, Klara, also fascinated me - internment in a Japanese POW camp in Java during WW2. I’d read a little on the subject recently for some writing research of my own but was keen to learn more.

Jenni travels to Cornwall - a place she’s avoided for 25 years - to meet Klara, whose memoirs she’s been commissioned to write. For Klara the decision to share her childhood memories has been a difficult one but she finds herself able to tell Jenni about the atrocities she witnessed and the horror she experienced while incarcerated in several different camps in appalling conditions, suffering starvation, overcrowding, disease and unimaginable cruelty.

Holiday luxury

Being on holiday gives you the luxury of being able to read a lot more than at home and I rattled through the book in no time. In a way that increased the intensity of the impact of Klara’s incredible story. Not only was it extremely moving but I found myself thinking about it a great deal even when I wasn’t buried in the book.

The author had clearly thoroughly researched her subject matter - a bibliography at the back lists further reading opportunities - and I got completely lost in Klara’s reminiscences. Jenni also has her own demon to deal with, and while not so extreme as Klara’s, it is equally as devastating in its own way.

Looking at other books by Isabel Wolff, I see that her usual genre is chic-lit, a genre I don’t read, but from the Q&A in the back of the book, she says she’s now migrated to writing more semi-historical novels. If Ghostwritten is an example of this new departure, then I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.


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