Thursday 14 May 2015

The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Land Beyond Goodbye and Don’t Look Down (

What We Thought: I won this book in a competition and it has been lurking on my Kindle for a while. Because of this I had no preconceived ideas about it before I read it. Very soon, however, it became apparent that this was going to be an alternative version of Romeo and Juliet – the story behind the story, if you like.

Juliet Roberts is translating an old Italian manuscript as a present for her grandfather’s 100th birthday and is astonished to discover that it appears to be written by Friar Lawrence – the priest who married Romeo and Juliet. As told by Friar Lawrence (now in the guise of Fra Lorenzo) the truth behind the tale of the starcrossed lovers is slowly revealed.

Also revealed are Lorenzo’s own secrets – the loves and losses of his youth, his relationship with his father, his acceptance of monastic life. Fra Lorenzo is a herbalist, a healer. He is a modest and kindly man, always willing to help others, who is beloved of his peers and superiors alike. Little do they know that passion once burned within the heart of this gentle man.

This is as much Lorenzo’s story as it is that of Romeo and Juliet, and I could not help hoping that the outcome would be beneficial for him and that somehow he would regain his lost love.

I found this to be a delightful novel – well-written, well described, well brought to life. The workings out of the story are cleverly done, the research is lightly worn and the novel rounded off perfectly. I found myself smiling at some of the neat plotting and tying up of ends. And a knowledge of the play by that fellow Shakespeare is really not necessary for full enjoyment of this book.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Love stories with a bit more to them.

Avoid if you dislike: Rewritings of established texts.

Ideal accompaniments: Herbal tinctures – but take note of what’s in them!

Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction

Available from Amazon

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