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Lost. (Book review: nice 'n' scary).

Lost * Gregory Maguire HarperCollins * $26

Ghost stories are endlessly recyclable, as Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister) proves to great effect in his latest novel, Lost. Our heroine, Winnie Rudge, a 40-ish, single, Boston-based writer, is a descendent of Ozias Rudge, upon whom Dickens may or may not have based the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. But that's just the beginning. Winnie has ties to a whole host of ghostly figures, from Jack the Ripper all the way to Linda Blair.

The adventure begins in London, where Winnie has just arrived to begin work on her new book featuring her literary alter ego, plucky Wendy Pritzke. As usual, she is staying with her cousin John at the old family house--originally Ozias Rudge's--in Hampstead Heath. But John seems to have disappeared, and neither the Irish workmen renovating his kitchen nor the neighbors nor John's office can offer any clues to his whereabouts.

Strange things begin to happen--sounds, missing house cats, scary paranormal nail-poppings, a falling chimney pot that injures one of the workers. The more Winnie pursues the mystery, the more it, becomes tangled up with her life. Though Lost reads with the pace and urgency of a thriller, it gradually becomes apparent that we are also getting a sophisticated study of a woman whose past is pushing her beyond her limits. And the reader marvels at how well Maguire controls his complicated material. Nothing is quite what it seems, and each surprise deepens the story and makes it even more intriguing.

Since Maguire is gay, I kept looking for gay content in this novel. There isn't any. So--will gay men and lesbians identify with a middle-aged heterosexual female who is unlucky in love, a little shaky in the career department, and possessed by the soul of a naughty French peasant girl? I doubt there will be any problem whatsoever.

Plunket is the author of My Search for Warren Harding and Love Junky.
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Author:Plunket, Robert
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 25, 2001
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