The Anatomy of Ghosts

The Anatomy of Ghosts

by Andrew Taylor

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Overview

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge

The ghost of Sylvia Whichcote is rumored to be haunting Jerusalem ever since student Frank Oldershaw claimed to have seen the dead woman prowling the grounds and was locked up because of his violent reaction to these disturbed visions.

Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts—a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion—to investigate. But his arrival in Cambridge disrupts an uneasy status quo as he glimpses a world of privilege and abuse, where the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs life at Jerusalem more effectively than the Master, Dr. Carbury, ever could.

And when Holdsworth finds himself haunted—not only by the ghost of his dead wife, Maria, but also by Elinor, the very-much-alive Master’s wife—his fate is sealed. He must find Sylvia’s murderer, or else the hauntings will continue. And not one of this troubled group will leave the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem unchanged.

CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger winner Andrew Taylor returns with an outstanding historical novel that will simultaneously keep the reader riveted, and enchant with its effortless elegance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594794820
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 01/17/2012
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 289,959
Product dimensions: 5.24(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range: 18 - 12 Years

About the Author

Andrew Taylor is the author of many crime and suspense novels. The recipient of the Crime Writers' Association 2009 Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing, Taylor has also won the CWA's John Creasey Award, an Edgar Scroll from the Mystery Writers of America, an Audie, and two CWA's Ellis Peters Historical Daggers (a unique achievement). His website is www.andrew-taylor.co.uk.

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The Anatomy of Ghosts 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
starlitehouse More than 1 year ago
After the death of his son and wife John Holdsworth closes his book store and is hired by Lady Oldershaw to catelog her late husbands library and more importantly to help her son who seems to have had a mental break down at school. John soon finds all is not as it seems at Cambrdge what with "the Holy Ghost society" and sightings of ghost. The book has a plot that draws you in but I kept finding myself lost and bored and waitting for the story to get back on track. I did something I never do in that I put this book down three times to read other books because it was just too drawn out. Lose fifty pages and this would be an excellent book. The author writes defined characters and settings with a well thought out plot with twist it just lacked a little whittling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and I was a little disappointed. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I was excited to read this one, but it just seemed to be a little lacking in pace and conclusion. I agree with other reviewers, it starts out a bit slow and cumbersome. You don't need the cast of characters, it's self-explanatory as you read. I almost put it down a couple times, but it does pick up after a bit. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, but it seemed a little hastily wrapped up, especially compared to the relative detail in the rest of the book... Sort of an "and done!" ending, leaving me with the sense of wait, where's the rest of it? For story development, great. Ending? Lame. Start, a little boring. I haven't read other novels by this author, but perhaps one of them may be a better start.
hoogirl54 More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts is set in 1786 Cambridge at fictional Jerusalem College. The author does a great job of storytelling, and gives great description of imagery and scenery. The story and characters are all quite interesting, and the author goes to great lenghts to unravel the plot. I did not mind the length of the book, however, was somewhat disappointed with the ending. Mr. Taylor spent so much time developing the story and climax, but in the end, there was not much of a climax. The end felt rushed; hurried. There is not a definite, satisfying conclusion to the story, and I am not a fan if books that leave you guessing about what happens to all to the main characters. Also, the title may be somewhat misleading, as the "ghost" may not make as big of an impact as one might think from the title (at least for me). Overall, the book is worth the read, especially on a cold and rainy day.
Ronrose More than 1 year ago
This is the story of John Holdsworth, a down and out bookseller in late eighteenth century England, who has recently lost his young son to a drowning accident. This is soon followed by the suicide by drowning of his despondent wife. He had written a book entitled, "The Anatomy of Ghosts" to try and shake his wife free of the belief that she could communicate with her dead son through a charlatan medium. John's attempt to bring her back to reality only exacerbated the problem and may have driven her over the edge. The first third of this novel thus moves at a somber pace. Things begin to look up for John and us when he is saved from a downward spiral, by the request of a Lady Anne Oldershaw to catalog her deceased husband's library in preparation for donating it to Cambridge University. There is a catch, however. Lady Anne's son, Frank, who had been attending Jerusalem College, has suddenly insisted that he has seen a ghost, had a breakdown and has been committed to a doctor's care. As Holdsworth seems to be an expert on debunking ghosts, Lady Anne wants him to bring her son back to her and cure him of these foolish and dangerous thoughts. Here the story switches to the life in the college and mystery surrounding Frank's encounter with his ghost. The author sets the scene and mood of the story nicely with a myriad of details of late eighteenth century English life in the cities and colleges of the time. The pace of the book is slow at first, but picks up as the cast of characters and story unfold. There are a number of interesting plot lines and twists to keep our interest until the grand denouement. I found the book a bit long. It would perhaps have benefited from some tighter plotting, but overall was an enjoyable read with enough tragedy, romance, mystery, and intrigue for everyone. This book was provided for review by the good folks at Hyperion books.
Sarijj More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to be picked to review The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor. I want to thank Hyperion for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest write up. 1786 England, a college setting, a secret society, blackmail, murder and madness, the perfect combination for the perfect book. What could be better? Not much if you are writer Andrew Taylor. Taylor offers up a compelling read, one that will have you staying up late wondering how it will all play out. Poor bookseller John Holdsworth has been hit with a triple tragedy. First his young son drowns, and then his wife in a fit of despair kills herself in the same water. During this horrible time Holdsworth, having spent his saving on a book collection, looses it and his shop in a fire. In his anger and grief Holdsworth writes a book debunking ghosts and those who prey on others grief. Most copies are lost in the fire, but there is one person who does have a copy; Lady Anne Oldershaw, a wealthy widow with an unusual request. She asks now destitute Holdsworth to catalog her husband's book collection and bring home her son who has been committed to a mental hospital. Frank Oldershaw has had a breakdown after seeing a ghost while in college. Holdershaw must find out what Frank really saw and help him recover his wits. This leads Holdershaw into a world of secrets, murder and blackmail. All masterfully crafted and laid out by Taylor. This was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I am unfamiliar with Taylor, yet he has a long list of book titles to his name. Anatomy of Ghosts is Taylor's 28th book and it shows. There are no glaring plot holes, his characters are fully flushed out, and his writing is engaging. Once I started the book I had a very hard time putting it down. Crime lovers will enjoy him as he keeps you guessing right up to the end. I thought I had it figured out, and was pleasantly surprised when I found I was wrong. This was not a case of a red herring (which I dislike), rather Taylor allows the reader to assume who the murderer is only to surprise the reader with the truth. It was there all along, and had I been a little more observant and less caught up in the story I may have figured it out. This was the beauty of the book, I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed how it played out in front of me. I did not distract myself with the mystery; I just sat back and let Taylor tell his tale. What more can you say of a book? What more would you want? Anatomy of Ghosts should not be missed.
bah195 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book in December and I have tried a number of times but I can not get into the book. Maybe it's just me. I'll try again in a month than I'll pass the book to a friend and she what she says about it.
crazyjster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts-by Andrew TaylorWell usually it is a bit early to say this, but I am excited to say that I have started off the year reading a book that appears to have great promise! The book is about a man named Holdsworth, who has completely lost everything, wrote a book hypothesizing the theory that ghosts did not exist. During the late 1700s, this theory was extremely controversial and created much debate. He was then offered a once an a lifetime opportunity to prove this theory by a rich and powerful woman. Andrew Taylor's, The Anatomy of Ghosts, is one of those rare books that is able to capture historical fiction in such a way and combine it with so many other exciting features, such as scandals, secret societies, and even manage to through in a love story. The story was captivating until the last page, ...and can Mr. Holdsworth prove his theory?
Britt1075 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrew Taylor takes us back to 1786 England where he spins a tale about bookseller John Holdsworth who after falling on hard times has been commishioned by Lady Ann Oldershaw to bring home her son who has been committed to a mental health facility near his college. Upon taking his new job John Holdsworth sets out on a trail of murder and mystery. I enjoyed this book near the end but it took me a long time to get to a part where I thought the book was worthy of my interest. It took me more than a month to read this and I usually read a few books a week. While it was well written it was too wordy for me and the characters were confusing in the beginning. After I got to about page 300 the book picked up a bit and the end was good but not great. I was left with a few questions that were not answered.
vtgal03 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I got this book in the mail. After reading Bleeding Heart Square I had high hopes for this book - and it didn't disappoint! From the very beginning this book opens with a great story. Each new section helps to flush out the story and the characters, I didn't find the story plodding along at any point. I tried to break free a couple of times during the holidays so I could get back to the book. It has to be a great book for me to even want to lug a book two states away! Andrew Taylor is now one of my favorite authors and I am looking forward to reading more from him.
Storeetllr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was well written and held my interest to the end. I had only a few quibbles, one of which I can specify without it being a spoiler.At one point, Taylor wrote something like: "He left the two young men to talk among themselves." At that moment, I felt my skin actually crawl. It's a small thing, I know, and probably of interest only to grammar pendants and, perhaps, writers, but I believe when you are referring to two of something, the correct preposition is "between," not "among." It jarred me enough to lose my connection to the story for a time.Another issue or two were plot points that I found a bit unrealistic. I may write a longer review at some point, at which time I'll try to be more specific, but I'll have to think of a way to say it without giving away anything important in the story.Finally, the ending was uncertain and, at least for me, unsatisfying.Still, I'm glad I read it, if only for the historical details as opposed to the characterizations or mystery.
ntempest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts tells the story of John Holdsworth, a bookseller who is down on his luck in the worst of ways, having had a son drown and his wife subsequently fall to her own grief. In the wake of that, financial troubles have led to the loss of his bookshop and also his home. When Lady Anne Oldershaw asks for his help with her son, Frank, he agrees. Frank is currently committed to a madhouse as a result of having reported seeing a ghost while a student at Cambridge. Lady Anne wishes for Holdsworth to prove there wasn't a ghost and thereby help Frank see reason. Unfortunately, the deeper Holdworth digs, the more mysterious the situation becomes and the more entangled he finds himself in a world of secret societies and suspicious characters.I enjoyed the historical aspects of this story very much. Taylor paints a wonderfully vivid portrait of 18th century England and of life at Cambridge University through his fictional Jerusalem College. Beyond that, however, I found the mystery itself a bit slow and confusing and was less invested in the outcome than I would have liked.
mythlady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor is a mixed blessing. On one level, it¿s an interesting story that offers insights into the workings of a (fictitious) Cambridge college in the 18th Century and into 18th Century life in general; on another, it¿s a confusing story that in the end, isn¿t much of a mystery. John Holdsworth, a writer, bookseller and printer, is engaged by a rich, titled aunt to look into the illness of her nephew, who has had some kind of mental breakdown and who is in an institution run by a doctor claiming to use the most modern methods in dealing with mental illness. Holdsworth has had his own troubles; his only child accidentally drowned and his wife soon followed, a victim of depression and false hope brought on by practitioners of the occult that prey on the recently bereaved.Holdsworth must penetrate the layers of secrecy and intertwined relationships that complicate everything at Jerusalem College, which include evil doings by secret society members, unpleasant master-servant relationships, lower-class romances, upper-class unhappy marriages and mistreatment of women, the plight of poor students trying to get a college education, the trials of a seemingly wealthy person who is deeply in debt, and so on. He slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the young man¿s mental illness and two deaths that are linked to his breakdown.In the end, I found the novel to be confusing and unsatisfying. I felt lost in the beginning, being thrown into the middle of several different plot lines and finding it difficult to get my bearings, a situation that was not helped by the character list in the front of the novel that contains at least one error (the name of the character in the list is not the same name of the character in the novel, an editing glitch for sure). Taylor throws too many situations into the mix, and while in the end, they are connected, I struggled to keep track of what was going on and who was who. Beyond that, I disagree with reviewers who have found the novel atmospheric ¿ while there are many details about life in a university in the 1780¿s, I felt that overall the novel lacked historical context, so much so that I had to keep reminding myself that I was in the 18th Century rather than the 19th or early 20th. I have to compare it to another novel recently read, Dan Simmons¿ Drood, which was highly evocative of Dickens¿ world and which left the reader feeling completely immersed in the minutiae of people¿s lives at that time.In the end, I felt that there was just too much going on in The Anatomy of Ghosts and not enough for me to care about. Since Taylor is a highly regarded mystery writer, I might give another one of his books a try, but this one just didn¿t satisfy.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've always liked books set in Oxbridge. It's the lush romanticism of it all that I got from a little too much Brideshead Revisited, I suppose. The Anatomy of Ghosts takes place in an imaginary college in Cambridge in the late 18th century - a favorite time period for me. It has hellfire clubs and faculty politics, illicit love and evil lords and their equally evil minions - throw in the possibility of ghosts, an inconvenient murder, and a mad heir and this would've been a fun romp through a predictable genre.Mr. Taylor has more in mind with this book. At its center is John Holdsworth, a bookseller whose life has literally fallen apart around him. When we meet him he is living in the house where his son and wife drowned on the charity of the people who bought his house and business. He has no money, no prospects, nothing but a cart full of picked over books. He's also the author of a tract against spiritualism and the belief in ghosts - both of which he believes doomed his wife. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain when he takes a commission from Lady Anne Oldershaw to catalog her late husband's books and to discover how to cure her son and heir of madness brought on by his sighting of a ghost.There are scholars and ne'er-do-wells, thieves, prostitutes, drunkards and lackeys galore (and that's just within the walls of the imaginary Jerusalem College. Within the closed and gated walls of this small community, Mr. Taylor sets his characters to explore the nature of loss, of recovery, of hope and despair.This book is always entertaining with an unexpected twist around each dark corner. Its true strength is in its characters with whom it is easy to identify despite their distance from us in time and space. I especially loved his attention to his minor characters who rise above mere mechanicals and plot devices to actual people with their own stories going on all around the main plot. This was a fun and engrossing read - highly recommended.
txmysterylover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts meticulously unveils a mystery surrounding Frank Oldershaw¿s fear of ghosts that began shortly after his induction into the Holy Ghost Club in Jerusalem College in Cambridge in 1786. John Holdsworth is hired by Oldershaw¿s mother to go to Cambridge after writing a book of the same title dispelling the existence of ghosts after his wife and son¿s own drowning. Andrew Taylor supplies much rich historical detail while laying out all the intrigue surrounding the night that Frank Oldershaw¿s fear began. Two drownings occurred at times that seem to correlate with meetings of the Holy Ghost Club. The story describes many details of life during this period in English history. The characters are well developed and easy to become involved with. Some may find the pace a bit slow, but those who enjoy historical mysteries will find this richly rewarding.
jewelknits on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is 1786, the night of the Last Supper at the Holy Ghost Club. All of the disciples are finishing up their toasts, and St. Peter (Frank Oldershaw) is preparing to be inducted. As he goes to take his sacrifice, tragedy strikes. Now Frank is residing in the house of Dr. Jermyn, with his mind apparently broken, speaking of ghosts and quacking like a duck.John Holdsworth is a former bookseller, on the verge of penury, having lost in quick succession his son, his wife, his business, and his home. His book, The Anatomy of Ghosts, caused a mild sensation at one point, with it's blasting of the 'charlatans' who take advantage of the grief-stricken by telling them that they can talk to the spirit of their dear departed. With it's debunking of many of the myths surrounding alleged "ghosts", it was in high demand. However, with the destruction by fire of his printing press, and the subsequent loss of his shop, John is not in a position to continue with it's distribution.When John is commissioned by Lady Anne Oldershaw, daughter of the late Earl of Vauden whose family founded Jerusalem College, to tabulate the college's library contents to see where her husband's book collection might fit in, his secondary (but most important) task is to see about Frank, Lady Anne's only child, and to help him if at all possible. Did Frank really see a ghost? Is his sanity beyond saving?As John journeys to Jerusalem, he uncovers an intricately layered plot where the players aren't always clearly defined. In a world of privilege where class plays a role in every interaction, will he be able to unravel the deeper mysteries and expose the secrets that lie at the bottom of them?This is a brilliantly-written book, reminiscent of Poe in it's styling. There's madness, suicide, cruelty, mystery, ghosts, jealousy, bribery, and possibly murder, all set in 18th century England, where class is paramount, and ambitions run amok. The very beginning was a bit confusing for me, but it all became much clearer as the tale unfolded. As the fingers of suspicion point first to one, and then to another, you, along with Holdsworth, will begin to wonder who the real villains are. This is a wonderful 18th century thriller, with finely-detailed characters and a plot that will keep you hanging in to the very end.QUOTESHe had never really noticed the poor in the days of his prosperity, except as irritants like lice or, at best, as bystanders in the great drama of existence in which their betters performed the speaking parts. He murmured these words aloud and a man who was passing gave him a wide berth. The only knowledge worth having was that a hungry belly made you a little mad.Her dying husband cared more about the fate of his enemy than about the future of his wife. In the antechamber of death, hate was more powerful than love.Trust youth to turn an episode of drunken adultery into a three-volume novel and present it to you before breakfast.BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars
kp9949 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Holdsworth, a bookseller and novelist fallen upon hard times, is approached to assist Lady Oldershaw retrieve her son from Cambridge University after an incident involving a ghost prompts her son to have a complete breakdown. Secrets abound at the university. Was there a ghost? Who might be involved in the mysterious situation? Mr. Holdsworth's own situation prior to accepting the commission is one of sadness and loss which may or may not assist him in finding the truth. This was an excellent premise, but I found no real interest in the characters except for Mr. Holdsworth himself. I even skipped to the end about halfway through the book which is something I have only done a handful of times in my reading life. Unfortunately, I would probably not read this author again. His style was not my cup of tea. I received his book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
iubookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Anatomy of Ghosts features down-on-his-luck bookseller and author John Holdsworth. He wrote a book called The Anatomy of Ghosts in an effort to disprove their existence and deal with his grief over the loss of his family. The book catches the attention of Lady Anne Oldershaw who hires Holdsworth to help her son who is currently staying in an asylum after a supposed ghost siting. Lady Anne wants her son restored. In the process, Oldershaw becomes caught up in the dramas of Jerusalem College and the mystery surrounding the death of Sylvia Whichcote.The premise of the book sounded interesting. I enjoy both historical fiction and mysteries, so a novel that combines the two genres is typically a sure bet for me. Unfortunately, The Anatomy of Ghosts did not live up to my expectations. I kept reading in the hopes that the solving of the mystery would redeem the whole book. Instead, I found myself reading the last words and saying to myself "Really? That's it?" I don¿t know what it was exactly. I think the story felt a bit shallow. The resolution seemed a little too trite. Along the way, I found myself annoyed by the language. Taylor uses period language that is sometimes jarring in its unfamiliarity and lack of good grammar. Could educated people really not use the right verb tense in the 1700s? But perhaps I¿m being too harsh, perhaps I expected too much of The Anatomy of Ghosts. I was really looking forward to it based on Andrew Taylor¿s reputation, and the novel just fell short of my expectations.There were things about it that I liked, particularly some of the characters. I thought Elinor Carbury was well-written and well-rounded. I thought Philip Whichcote was just the right amount of smarmy. I was surprised by the revelations about Richardson. Again, the story as a whole just left my wanting.In my opinion, this isn¿t a book I would encourage you to run out and buy.
macygma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Holdsworth, bookseller, widower and nearly at poverty level in 1786 England is hired by Lady Oldershaw, widow, rich and worried about her son.Frank, it seems, has had a mental collapse and states he sees ghosts. Not a popular opinion in that age. Frank is a student at Cambridge University in the Jerusalem College. His tutor, Mr. Richardson, has his own games being played and offers to help Mr. Holdsworth in his investigation.All is not well in Cambridge. There is a society but it certainly isn't Phi Kappa anything. Called The Holy Ghost Society, it is comprised of thirteen ever-changing members known at meetings as Jesus and his named Disciples. They drink, they deflower a virgin at each initiation and the former and current members make up some of England's most wealthy and powerful. In this time in England women are thought stupid. Good for showing off, breeding and runnng a home but they certainly had no real thought on ahything.Frank has become a member of The Holy Ghost group and on that night, the current Jesus' wife died. Fell into a pond while taking the night air. Or did she? Mourned more by her lady friends than by her husband. Mourned more by Frank than all the rest.That is Holdsworth's true job. What really happened to Sylvia Whichcote? DId Frank really see a ghost? How much power to the boys who care for the "gentlemen" of the college have? All good questions and true. All answered in this splendid novel coming out on January 25. I hadn't read Andrew Taylor prior to this book but it is so well written and puts you right into the time and society ties on 18th Century England. You feel horror at the initiation rites and sadness when Frank goes off on one of his tangents. One of the best novels I've read in 2010 and a keeper!
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A complex and intriguing mystery set in eighteenth century, The Anatomy of Ghosts follows the story of a grieving widower who loses his business and so is convinced to enter the employ of a wealthy noblewoman, who sends him to discover what happened to drive a Cambridge student mad under the guise of assessing the college library. Allegedly, he saw the ghost of a recently dead woman, but that can't be the right, can it?Taylor's novel is a satisfying read, full of plot twists and peopled by characters who are complex and believable.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the 1800¿s the book follows John Holdsworth as he attempts to unravel the mystery of Frank Oldershaw¿s ghost. Holdsworth is hired by Frank¿s mother Anne, to travel to Jerusalem College and ¿heal¿ the delusion that has landed Frank in a mental hospital. It is revealed early in the book that Holdsworth has recently suffered from the drowning death of his son, and the suicide by drowning of his wife. Left in near poverty, he has no choice but to accept Lady Anne¿s proposal.The author was very descriptive and was able to transport the reader back to the 1800¿s. However, I had trouble connecting with the characters. I also thought the pace of the book was incredibly slow. The author unveiled the mystery eventually, but it seemed to take forever to get there. Overall, I rate this book a three.
Ronrose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of John Holdsworth, a down and out bookseller in late eighteenth century England, who has recently lost his young son to a drowning accident. This is soon followed by the suicide by drowning of his despondent wife. He had written a book entitled, "The Anatomy of Ghosts" to try and shake his wife free of the belief that she could communicate with her dead son through a charlatan medium. John's attempt to bring her back to reality only exacerbated the problem and may have driven her over the edge. The first third of this novel thus moves at a somber pace. Things begin to look up for John and us when he is saved from a downward spiral, by the request of a Lady Anne Oldershaw to catalog her deceased husband's library in preparation for donating it to Cambridge University. There is a catch, however. Lady Anne's son, Frank, who had been attending Jerusalem College, has suddenly insisted that he has seen a ghost, had a breakdown and has been committed to a doctor's care. As Holdsworth seems to be an expert on debunking ghosts, Lady Anne wants him to bring her son back to her and cure him of these foolish and dangerous thoughts. Here the story switches to the life in the college and mystery surrounding Frank's encounter with his ghost. The author sets the scene and mood of the story nicely with a myriad of details of late eighteenth century English life in the cities and colleges of the time. The pace of the book is slow at first, but picks up as the cast of characters and story unfold. There are a number of interesting plot lines and twists to keep our interest until the grand denouement. I found the book a bit long. It would perhaps have benefited from some tighter plotting, but overall was an enjoyable read with enough tragedy, romance, mystery, and intrigue for everyone. This book was provided for review by the good folks at Hyperion books.
PallanDavid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew TaylorWith The Anatomy of Ghosts, Andrew Taylor gives us a glimpse of English University life in the 1780¿s; life of the different classes, the privileged and the not so privileged, in and around the fictitious Jerusalem College of Cambridge, and the interaction of these people ¿ all of whom need and support one another. We start off with one mystery: the ¿madness¿ of a student of the college. What occurred to cause him to have a mental breakdown? Investigating this one situation we are introduced to several situations which in the end are all part of the same sad story.Through a series of intertwining stories, the most sorted and base amusements of the upper class will be divulged. Sympathies will shift depending on the eyes Mr. Taylor is allowing you to witness the events through. The world has an industrial revolution grittiness of ash and oily soot covering it; poverty is commonplace and without social programs, even the most worthy are left to the streets to peddle used goods, beg or take up positions as servants in less than happy circumstances. The ¿gentlemen¿ are raised with the unbendable belief of their superiority over those in lower classes. And in this group of individuals, with Jerusalem College as their home base, we see the differences fall away - their shared humanity come together.When I picked up the book I was expecting a story of a spectral haunting; after all, the story does take place in England in the 1780¿s¿ in and among old buildings in which many events, some even mysterious, have happened many times over! But the ¿ghosts¿ shown to us by Mr. Taylor are even more unsubstantial than spectral entities¿ even more haunting: thoughts and memories. The Anatomy of Ghosts vividly walks us through the lives of many people who to the casual observer would never seem to have intimate relationships. But the intertwining of lives and experiences bring them together as a family. Written at a constant pace, no unnecessary soliloquies nor unneeded drama, neither is there a description that will not come back to bring light at the conclusion; this book quietly carries the reader through the weeks of early spring surprisingly easily. Each story thread knits easily with another until the lives and actions of the characters meet together to show us answer of the mystery¿ or should I say the answer of the mysteries?
SandraJohnson-Harri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mystery is a thinking person's book. Clues are not handed out for the armchair detective to collect The protagonist as well as other main characters do not match usual expectations of a mystery. The main character John Holdsworth, could just as easily be the villain as the hero. He is a self educated man, down on his luck, widowed, with very little going in his favor. As the plot develops, so does awareness of the strengths of this individual. Mr. Taylor is quite good at furnishing just enough about the characters to feel you know their patterns of participation in the plot. From time to time the story slows down, but doesn't inhibit the reader from moving on. The one criticism of this book is the author's introduction of the character "Richenda". Though her name is mentioned in significant events, we never learn exactly who she is and what part she plays. As a result, she seems superfluous.Generally, I do not read novels of this era. This book, though, was enjoyable and also tweaked my interest in reading more by Mr. Taylor.
crabbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received an advanced reading copy of this and am really glad I did...now I have a 'new' author to read! The setting for this novel, Jerusalem College, Cambridge and the time period, late 1700s, are personal favorites. I found the characters well developed - just the name Tom Turdman, the night soil man, gives me the willies. Can you imagine having a job like that? - and to me the creepiest kind of ghost stories are the ones where the ghosts aren't quite tangible (yeah, I know, that's the nature of ghosts isn't it?), but something hinted at...the unexplained creaking floorboards in the hall, that sudden tapping at a window, or that wall of cold you run into when you suddenly turn a corner. (Cripes! I'm creeping myself out!)Overall, I'd say the novel had a little Dickensian flavor to it and I hope we see John Holdsworth in some of Taylor's future stories. In the meantime, I'm off to read another Andrew Taylor title.
CynWetzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delightfully tangled tale. I was completely unfamiliar with Andrew Taylor, and will seek out something else of his to read. For a good portion of the beginning half of the book, I was just perplexed enough to be determined to *not* let myself be distressed. I knew it would all fall together.It all did. And though I did not decided the "who dun it" until just before the author revealed it, neither did Mr. Taylor use any trick to truly mislead the reader.None of the plot lines suffered for the sake of the others; all were important to this reader. It is not a tragic ending, nor a happily-ever-after ending. I would say it was an honorable and rather just resolution for all. Well, almost all.