Saturday 7 March 2015

Ghosting by Jonathan Kemp

When 65-year old Grace Wellbeck sees what she believes to be the ghost of her first husband, she fears for her sanity and begins to worry she's having another breakdown. 
A second sighting of the ghost later the same day sends her careering back in time to the first day she met Pete, in 1958 at Blackpool Pleasure beach. She revisits their courtship, their wedding day, and the day, six months later, when Pete first hits her. 
Haunted by her past, and memories of her daughter, Hannah, whose death brought on her first breakdown, Grace realises she has to make some changes. 
The ghost, Luke, turns out to be very real. As Grace becomes entangled in the disorientating world of art and drugs he and his friends inhabit, she feels increasingly estranged from her second husband and the life they've built together. 
Grief-soaked, long-buried memories of a violent past come back thick and fast and bring her to a momentous decision.

Ghosting by Jonathan Kemp is published in paperback by Myriad Editions on 12 March 2015.

Ghosting is a short, but absolutely stunning novel. Jonathan Kemp has created a story that is both haunting and beautiful. His exploration of the human mind and the way that his lead character Grace's mind is affected by her grief and loss is so powerful.

Grace is an elderly lady who sees the ghost of her first husband. Seeing Pete's image brings back vivid, painful and terrifying memories and it is not until she sees the ghost again that she realises that it is not Pete's spirit, but a real man; Luke.

Luke looks so like Pete that Grace becomes consumed by her memories and by her present situation and makes the decision to change her life completely. The reader is treated to flash backs from Grace's life, we are taken back to her youth, the heady days of the late 1950s in Blackpool when she and Pete first met. As the novel progresses, we accompany Grace through the pain of her marriage to Pete and learn more about the loss, suffering and heartbreak that she has coped with during her life.

Mental illness, death, grief, loss and despair are the themes that run through Ghosting, and although these are dark and serious issues, the novel does at times, contain glints of black humour and lots of insight,

Grace finds herself caught up with people and in places that are totally alien to her, she encounters new ways of thinking and of living. Grace opens her mind and allows herself to be helped and guided by these new experiences, and in turn, Grace herself offers the wisdom of her years to the other characters.

Wonderfully crafted, Ghosting is a story that will remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned. A novel to savour, an author to admire.

My thanks to Emma from Myriad Editions who sent my copy for review.

Jonathan Kemp was born in Manchester on the same day as the first Velvet Underground album was released. He spent the first two years of his life in Malaysia, but grew up in Cheshire and moved to London in 1989.
His first novel, London Triptych (2010), was shortlisted for the inaugural Green Carnation Prize and won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award. His highly acclaimed collection of short stories, Twentysix (2011), is a milestone of literary erotica in the tradition of Georges Bataille and Jean Genet. His second novel, Ghosting, will be published in March 2015. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Chroma, the online queer literary journal PolariBrand Magazine, and in the anthologies Best Gay Erotica 2010 and Best Gay Short Stories 2010.
Kemp teaches creative writing, literature and queer theory at Birkbeck, University of London, where he was named Distinguished Sessional Lecturer in 2010. He was a co-founder of the Planet Martha Theatre Company (1994-98).
For more information about Jonathan Kemp, visit his website
Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMKemp


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