Read The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin Online

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A captivating, atmospheric return to historical fiction that is every bit as convincing and engrossing as Martin's landmark Mary Reilly. In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found. This maritime mystery lies at the centerA captivating, atmospheric return to historical fiction that is every bit as convincing and engrossing as Martin's landmark Mary Reilly. In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found. This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late-nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste's captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste. These three elements—a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor—converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death....

Title : The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780297870326
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste Reviews

  • Tanja Berg
    2018-12-11 07:52

    This is by no means the worst book I have read, but it is definitely one of the biggest disappointments in a long time. I was hoping for a titillating historical-fiction mystery about the real-life vessel Mary Celeste, found floating on the sea without her crew. What I got was a fragmented and vapid tale about ... well.... I'm not sure. Arthur Conan Doyle's fascination with spiritualists? I am totally clueless as to why this book was written at all, I've rarely read a story with so little direction or cohesion. Not recommended.

  • Sarah (Presto agitato)
    2018-12-05 04:52

    The Mary Celeste was a merchant ship discovered in December, 1872, under sail heading towards the Strait of Gibraltar. No one was on board. With one lifeboat missing, the ship was presumed abandoned. Strangely, though, there was no indication of what caused the captain to leave the ship, along with his wife, two year old daughter, and seven crew members. There were no signs of a struggle, there was plenty of food and water, and the ship was still seaworthy. Engraving of the Mary Celeste at the time of discovery (Wikipedia)The mystery of the Mary Celeste caught the public’s attention at the time, but interest surged when a short story was published in 1884 in Cornhill Magazine. Entitled “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement,” the fictional tale was based on the mystery of the missing ship. The anonymous author was the twenty-four year old Arthur Conan Doyle, still three years away from publishing his first Sherlock Holmes story.Arthur Conan Doyle (Wikipedia)“J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement” in Cornhill Magazine (Internet Archive)Valerie Martin’s novel The Ghost of the Mary Celeste draws on these historical events. She addresses the mystery of the Mary Celeste’s fate, of course, but in a way it is almost incidental to the numerous other puzzles here. Martin interweaves tales of shipwrecks, a family that seems cursed by its association with the sea, a to-be-famous writer, and the Victorian world of the occult, replete with spiritualism, mediums, and charlatans.Martin tells these stories from different points of view, giving us little glimpses of the whole through the eyes of narrators with varying degrees of reliability. Some of these characters are more distant from the central events than others, but each is carefully drawn and feels fully realized. The character portrayals are convincing for both the historical figures and the purely fictional characters, an important trick in historical fiction. If I didn’t know in advance who was an actual person, I don’t think I would have been able to distinguish from the story, which is as it should be. I expected this novel to be a re-imagining of what could have happened to the ill-fated ship. It turned out to be less linear and more ambiguous than I thought it would be, and, ultimately, more intriguing. A copy of this book for review was provided by NetGalley/Doubleday Books.

  • Matt
    2018-12-07 03:02

    The British merchant brig Mary Celeste was discovered afloat and empty on December 5, 1872. A lifeboat was missing, along with eight crewmen and two passengers. She was still seaworthy and under sail; she had six months worth of provisions on board; and the crew’s valuables were intact. There was no sign of a struggle, no apparent reason for the ship to have been abandoned. None of the passengers or crew were ever heard from again. Thus was born the greatest maritime mystery of all time. If you are interested in that story, do not read this book. I know that seems emphatic. Almost like a threat. [Puts down baseball bat]. Really, I’m just trying to save you the money spent purchasing the book, the days spent reading it, and the hours you’ll waste on the internet complaining that this isn’t what you expected. This is actually a public service to keep you from disappointment and internet-trolldom. Valerie Martin’s The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is a very fine book, one that does not deserve to be freighted with the unfair expectations of her readers. (Including myself – I knew the gist of this novel before picking it up, therefore recalibrating my projections). If you are looking for speculative fiction about the real-life Mary Celeste, you should look elsewhere. In fact, you need look no further than one of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste’s characters, Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote a short story called J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement, which purported to be a first person account from the mystery ship. Martin’s novel is not about the Mary Celeste, at least in the direct sense. But as the title implies, the ghost-ship haunts every page. The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is an ornately crafted novel, part epistolary, constructed with diary entries and newspaper clippings, and partially told in the third person. It has different characters and narrative strands that sometimes intertwine, and sometimes only inform each other from a distance. The novel is about many things at once: it is a sea story; it explores 19th century Victorian-era spiritualism; and it is a story of unusual women during a time when women had a usual place. The novel begins on a ship, the Early Dawn, with a wife and her husband, the ship’s captain, asleep in their cabin. There is a wonderful evocation of the ocean:She pulled her hood in close, took a few steps from the hatch, and there it was, the sight she had long imagined – at once she lamented the paucity of her imagination – the sea. Slate-blue peaks studded with white foamy caps, line after line, each wave preceded by another and every one followed by another, as wide as the world was wide, and above it the sky, which was white, flat, and cold, the sun a brighter patch hovering in the distance.The weather turns bad, and the peacefulness of the voyage is disrupted by a visceral, terrifying portrayal of a shipwreck: The captain, rising up to take a breath, felt a blow across his shoulders that knocked the remaining air out of his lungs and pushed him cruelly back down. When he tried to rise again, something solid blocked his way. There was no air left in his lungs; he could feel his eyes bulging with the effort not to breathe. He sensed a light behind him and turned toward it. Then, with what terror and sadness he understood that he was looking down…It turns out that the wife of the captain of the Early Dawn had a thirteen year-old cousin. That girl grows into the main character of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, at least to the extent it can be said there is a main character. Her name is Violet Petra, and she becomes a famous psychic. She earns her living through the patronage of wealthy benefactors who use her to communicate with the land of the dead. Violet is a fascinating and sharply drawn character. She is both confident and vulnerable; tough and fragile. And she is always a bit ambiguous. She is given a worthy antagonist in Phoebe Grant, a female journalist and avowed skeptic. Phoebe first meets Violet in an effort to expose her as a fraud. Eventually, a strange kind of friendship grows between the two. The main-character triumvirate is rounded out by the aforementioned Arthur Conan Doyle. His storyline is the weakest and most peripheral of the three. Martin’s narrative threads wend in and out, changing viewpoints, storytelling style, and time periods. It pays to pay attention, but the overall structure is not overly complex. I should know, since I have two young children at home and my attention is often drawn from the nuances of whatever novel I am reading. At the end of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, I knew exactly what had happened. If I can follow along, burdened by two loud children and a drinking habit, so can you!The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is no all-time classic. It is an above-average average novel. It has better than usual characterizations, a fine touch for atmosphere, and a conclusion that is worth a spooky shiver or two.

  • Jill
    2018-12-09 08:52

    Has there ever been a more compelling maritime mystery than the fate of the Mary Celeste? In 1872, it was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean – deserted, unmanned, yet seaworthy and with its cargo fully intact. Valerie Martin uses this mystery as a main plot device in her latest novel – a page-turning triumph that kept me up for two nights way past my bedtime. But into this mystery, she weaves two additional threads. One focuses on Arthur Conan Doyle, fittingly, the creator of one of the most legendary sleuths of all time, Sherlock Holmes. When we first encounter him, he is launching his career by writing an anonymous and sensationalistic tale of the mystery of the doomed ship. And the other explores the resilient bond between two disparate women, the spiritualist Violet Petra – the sister of the captain’s wife – and a skeptical journalist named Phoebe Grant.As a result, Valerie Martin broadens the definition of ghosts to include the many ghosts that haunt us in our quest for love and connections: the ghosts who have influenced what we have become, the ghosts of what we might have been. “What draws the bereaved to seek the departed still in this world?” she writes. “Is it hope, I wonder, or is it fear?” The ship, in a metaphorical way, becomes the symbol of our hubris: “What vanity of men, to sail about in fragile wooden boxes tricked out with sails, putting their lives, their fortunes, their families at the mercy of this ravenous, murderous, heartless beast of a sea.”There is so much to recommend this book that I don’t even know where to begin. Ms. Martin steers her prose confidently forward, whether she’s writing about authentically terrifying ocean disasters which make the reader feel RIGHT THERE or the nuances of a haunted young woman – Violet – who “was left on the shore in this charade of a life.” The realism of her prose had me scrambling to Google more than once to discover what was real and what was fiction. Instead of relying on a tried-and-true linear structure, Ms. Martin takes three seemingly unrelated vignettes and then weaves them more and more intricately into one overriding and satisfying narrative.She’s not above poking a little fun at herself. At one point, this thought is attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle. “The public, he knew, demanded a strong plot, adventures at sea went well, also ghosts and mysteries of all kinds. Why not put them all together?” Why not indeed? I envy those who are about to begin this ingenious boo.

  • Ariel
    2018-12-09 08:05

    I love the story of the Mary Celeste. I first read about it in a Reader's Digest anthology of mysteries and unexplained events that was on my parents shelf in the 70's. I read the article probably forty times. It was so captivating. A ship found with the crew missing and the only clue being blood on the floor. To further add intrigue, the crew included the captain's wife and their young daughter, Sophia. Her fate is a mystery lost to history much like that of young Virginia Dare in the lost Roanoke Colony. It was with great anticipation that I picked up a book based on one of my most favorite true life historical mysteries. Alas it was not to be. It was a mishmash of disjointed tales barely related to the Mary Celeste. I felt like giving up on page 100 but that ghostly ship on the cover kept me slogging one. It took me three days to make it through the last 100 pages. At page 270! it looks like we are finally going to get some answers or at least a fictional account of the crews last days on the ship through a "found" captains log from the Mary Celeste. There is a brief account of the fate of the ships's captain and then nothing! The book abruptly ends. I got more satisfaction from reading the Wikipedia article about the ship. An extremely frustrating book with no payout for having stuck with it for the reader at the end.

  • Teresa
    2018-12-14 09:44

    Though the fate of the Mary Celeste is not the primary focus of the novel, its title is fitting as its 'ghost' haunts almost every section. The several narratives, all chronological except for the last, carrying the overall story forward, include a third-person harrowing sea tale that occurs prior to the Mary Celeste's; the diary of a young woman who is related to victims of the first tale; another third-person account of a sea voyage, this time of the young Arthur Conan Doyle, the ship's doctor, on a trip to Africa; and more. Nineteenth-century sea travel is portrayed as the dangerous, crazy enterprise it was, countered by glimpses of the sea's and sky's amazing beauty. My favorite section may be the delightful account of the dispersal of the issue of Cornhill from England to the U.S. that contains Doyle's anonymous (per Cornhill's policy), early, sensationalist fictional tale of a ship he calls the Marie Celeste and of the various reactions it engenders. I couldn't help comparing Martin's female journalist favorably against the one depicted in Jayne Anne Phillips's Quiet Dell; and the description of the setting of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, where the Spiritualists hold their annual convention, brought to mind James' The Bostonians as did a couple of Martin's vacationing characters.If you've read Martin's Trespass and didn't like what happens in the middle of the book, then you will dislike this one three times as much. I've heard Martin say more than once (at literary fests here in N.O., where she is from) that some readers of Trespass complained to her; and her response is: they are her characters, she can do what she wants with them. I wonder if she gleefully thought of those readers as she wrote this book.

  • Lisa Lieberman
    2018-12-11 03:07

    So much to love about this book, from the gorgeous writing (not so gorgeous that it shouts, Pay attention to me! but sheer pleasure to read) to Martin's skillful weaving together of real events, actual people, and fictional characters. As a historian, I was never pulled out of the story by some anachronistic detail. Rather, I was delighted by Martin's ability to inhabit the mid- to late-nineteenth-century period in which she sets this tale. It all felt plausible -- no, more than plausible -- it deepened my understanding of the time, allowing me to inhabit it too.Martin provides intimate portraits of New England seafaring families, of life aboard a steamer plying the African interior (where we first meet the young Arthur Conan Doyle), of the spiritualist summer camp in upstate New York where wealthy, grieving women (for the most part) indulge themselves in the illusion "that life is continuous and that the dead only wait for our attention to make themselves known again." She gives us wonderful characters with rich inner lives whose interactions surprise us without feeling contrived. The prickly relationship between the woman journalist, Phoebe Grant (who reminds me of Wilkie Collins's intelligent heroine from The Woman in White, Marian Halcombe) and the medium Violet Petra was particularly well done.So, why only four stars? The writer in me was dissatisfied with one key element of the story, (view spoiler)[Martin's decision to have Violet go overboard, succumbing at last to her morbid fascination with the dead by following her drowned relatives into the sea,(hide spoiler)] which struck me as a failure of imagination (or nerve?) on the author's part. I think that Martin tried to work around the inevitable confrontation between Violet and Conan Doyle by a clever sleight of hand, (view spoiler)[having the author receive his comeuppance via the machinations of subsidiary characters, (hide spoiler)] but she set the stage for a direct encounter, I feel, and ought to have followed through.

  • Jeannine
    2018-12-17 08:53

    This book, about the maritime mystery of the ghost ship Mary Celeste, started off great. The author draws you in to the Briggs family and their losses at sea (pre- Mary Celeste). We meet Sallie/Sarah and her sister who claims to communicate with dead loved ones and the trouble this causes in the family. After that, the book spirals off into different tangents. The first involves Arthur Conan Doyle (who really wrote a famous story about the Mary Celeste) and the second involves the mysterious spiritualist Violet Petra (who astute readers will know right away is the aforementioned seer sister). There is a lot of interesting stuff about the spiritualists and voyages to Africa and what not, but the reader didn't really get to revisit the mystery of the ghost ship until the last fifty or so pages and by then, I didn't care. Well written from a language standpoint, but curiously organized.

  • MaryannC.Book Fiend
    2018-11-18 02:43

    I did quite enjoy this book about the mystery surrounding the ship the Mary Celeste, my only reason for not giving it 5 stars was the fact that the main storyline branches out to a few other storylines that cross paths, and so at first it made me wonder where all this was headed. I wished that all the stories would have been more neatly connected, but I will say I did like Valerie Martin's writing style and her descriptions with this novel thus the 4 stars and I am looking forward to picking up more of her books.

  • Dawn Michelle
    2018-12-16 04:43

    Ummmmm.... This was ONE weird book. And not in the ghostly creepy weird that I was expecting. I do not even know how to review this book. I am just sitting here going "W T H just happened" and "you CANNOT end a book that way", but apparently you can. ;-) I listened to it on Hoopla Audio and had to get the Kindle book as well as some of the narration [while EXCELLENT; I highly recommend this narrator for anything. I mean, I would listen to her read the phone book she is that good. Susie Berneis is her name. I highly recommend her narration of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" <--SHE was amazing with that book] featured voices from New Hampshire and such and I needed to see the words to understand what was being said. This is not a happy book. There is very little happiness to be found, if any, between its pages. There is much sadness and sorrow and a lot of speculation. Good read - weird, but good.

  • Jane
    2018-11-17 01:55

    Where I got the book: e-ARC from Edelweiss.Darting around the timeline of the story of the Mary Celeste, the ship found floating empty on the Atlantic in 1872, this novel imagines the lives of the captain and his wife, his wife's sister who's blessed or burdened with psychic powers and becomes a famous medium, and the journalist--and later famous novelist--Arthur Conan Doyle who writes a sensationalist, inaccurate story about the Mary Celeste that propels him into the public consciousness.So there's quite a lot going on. And for a long while it was hard to see how the different threads fitted together; Martin keeps the reader guessing and thinking about a mystery that's never been satisfactorily solved. But in the end I found the story knitted satisfactorily, the pieces united by the image of the sea as a place of death and mystery. Not, on the whole, a good reading choice if you're on a cruise.I can't say I was ever completely absorbed in the characters, who all seem a little unsympathetic. For that reason I can't give this one five stars. But it certainly deserves four, and maybe a tad more.

  • Bam
    2018-12-04 02:46

    "When found derelict on December 5, 1872, the Mary Celeste was in seaworthy condition and still under sail, heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar. She had been at sea for a month and had more than six months' worth of food and water on board. Her cargo was virtually untouched and the crew's personal belongings including valuables were still in place. None of those on board were ever seen or heard from again and their disappearance often is cited as the greatest maritime mystery of all time." Valerie Martin does NOT solve this mystery in her novel, The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, but she does write a haunting piece of historical fiction. Martin tells her story brilliantly in a progressive timeline, beginning with the Massachusetts family of several ill-fated seafarers, which happens to include the future captain of the Mary Celeste, Benjamin, and his wife, Sallie. Sallie has a sister, Hannah, who “has dreams she believes are visions.” She will go on to become the much-sought-after psychic, Violet Petra, in the Spiritualist movement of the late 1800s. At one of their gatherings in Lake Pleasant she meets the journalist and skeptic, Phoebe Grant, who becomes what might be her only friend. The character of Arthur Conan Doyle is brought into the story because as a young man he was employed as ship’s doctor. On a voyage to Africa he hears the strange tale of the Mary Celeste and later writes a story about the ship under an assumed name, which purports to be a statement from a survivor. It turns out to be wildly successful and launches his career as a writer. Later in life, Doyle is a member of the Society for Psychical Research which believes (to paraphrase a William James observation) that to disprove that “all psychics are frauds, you need only produce one who is not.” After a test meeting with Violet Petra in which she tells Doyle something very personal about his family, he believes her to be the real deal and arranges for her to sail to England to meet with his society. Tying all these threads together are a personal journal, personal recollections, published documents, and finally a ship’s log. It all flows beautifully to make an enjoyable, mysterious tale that I highly recommend. Favorite quote of the book: “What vanity of men, to sail about in fragile wooden boxes tricked out with sails, putting their lives, their fortunes, their families at the mercy of this ravenous, murderous, heartless beast of a sea.”

  • Barb
    2018-12-09 03:56

    I had a difficult time with this novel. The first hundred pages are broken up into five parts. The first part describes the sinking of the ship the ‘Early Dawn’, in 1859 and the drowning death of two people on the ship. The descriptions were vivid, and the writing was very good. I was pulled into the story, then disappointed when it abruptly ended after twelve pages. The narration is then taken up by journal writings from Sarah, who is the niece of the couple who drowned, her journal is dated May 1860. She details her family history and the concerns she has for her sister, Hannah who believes she sees the ghost of their mother. This narration goes on for 46 pages and abruptly ends with the most exciting event described in the entire journal. The story is then taken up with four pages of documents concerning the recovery of the Brig Mary Celeste in 1872. The fourth part describes some of Arthur Conan Doyle's time as ship doctor on the S.S. Mayumba in 1881. I enjoyed this perspective the most, I really enjoyed reading details the author included about Doyle's family life. It won't surprise you to learn that we don't stay with Doyle for long, only 29 pages this time, then we are taken three years ahead in time and told of a fictional account of a survivor from the Mary Celeste.I didn't care for all of the brief disjointed parts, it gave the book a very uneven feel. I dislike short stories and this novel felt like a grouping of related but very distinct short stories. If you like historical fiction and you like to read short stories the telling of this story might be something you'd enjoy. Unfortunately, I didn't care for it and only made it a third of the way through the book

  • Annie
    2018-11-24 03:08

    I have a HUGE problem with this book, in case you didn't notice from the 1 star. Don't get me wrong - it was very intriguing and compelling to read. The story changed every couple chapters, bouncing between a newspaper woman, Phoebe, this sea-faring family, the Briggs, and, oddly enough, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm usually not to into that style of writing but in this instance it worked well and kept the story going... my problem is the sickening inconclusive ending! I mean, I know that no one REALLY knows what happened to the Mary Celeste, but this is a work of "historical fiction" and I don't think it would have been too much to ask that we get left with some sort of an inkling of what at least the author thinks happened! I was left heartsick, a little seasick and definitely not recommending it to my friends.

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-29 08:05

    Not a ghost story in the usual sense, although there are supernatural happenings in the book. The story is much more subtle, and reminds me of some books by Joyce Carol Oates ( i.e. Bellefleur, The Accursed, Mysteries of Winterthurn). It's mainly a story about the family of the captain and his wife, who were on board the Mary Celeste. The book's structure shows the family before and then years after the event, and how the disappearance at sea has affected them and those around them. Arthur Conan Doyle is in it, having written a fictional explanation of the events on the ship. (The actual story can be found at Project Gutenberg in his collection The Captain of the Polestar.) He also comes into contact with some of the family members. Finally, the book ends with a diary acount of the fatal voyage. The mystery of the ship's abandonment is not solved, but questions concerning Hannah/Violet are answered. Worth reading.

  • Bandit
    2018-11-24 01:46

    Enticing title...who wouldn't want to know what happened or at least be wowed with a wild speculation. Here, there isn't much speculation, we don't get an original explanation. Martin opts to go with the traditionally accepted alcohol fumes explanation. This novel like its title is more of a ghost, suggestive, but insubstantial. Tenuously connected stories around Mary Celeste lacking solidity or resolutions, including a not particularly likable creator of the Sherlock Holmes. The writing is a thing of beauty, very evocative with great descriptions and characterizations. It's almost a literary case of style over substance. This isn't Valerie Martin first venture into historical gothic before, the 1996's Mary Reilly movie that no one seemed to like was based on her book. This is my first experience actually reading Martin and, while the writing itself impresses, the storytelling/plotting leaves the reader wanting, wishing for more.

  • Jeanette
    2018-12-01 02:07

    Very difficult to comprise this review, except to say that it was time wasted. Not that the writing is bad, as much as it is disjointed. The transitions are so awful that it's impossible to follow a singular story, or even a specific prime character. For me, it was. The best part was the first 40 or 50 pages with the sea copy tale of the original "oldest" voyage encompassed within the novel. The voyage of the storm going around the Cape.No more from this author for me. It also rather confused me upon the subject of spiritualism that was all the rage in the later 1800's. I think I understood why more fully before I read this book than after its finish. And especially as concerns Conan Doyle.

  • John Pappas
    2018-12-11 09:09

    Strange and atmospheric tale of spiritualism,spookiness and the sometimes false stories we tell about ourselves and our world. At times, here, the ship becomes a symbol for all the unfathomable vexing and compelling mysteries of the world we struggle to, but ultimately cannot, understand. Interestingand engrossing.

  • Mona
    2018-12-13 07:52

    3.5Review to follow.

  • Pam
    2018-11-19 03:02

    I do not know what to make of this book. Sometimes riveting and sometimes so dull I didn't want to finish it.

  • Kathleen Daly
    2018-12-17 04:09

    I found it enthralling. There are a few story lines and peripheral characters they make a bigger appearance at the end. There are real life and fictional characters. The prose IMO is really wonderful, the grief and sorrow of all involved is very real as is the joy when some solace is found by said characters. Don't give it up for its sweep of compelling you into all their lives for it all pays off, or it did for me. The mystery of the boat becomes less important because it's the characters that are important and the prose. She juxtaposes the mediums with what is really real, we ask ourselves. She also has a way of making the sea as a metaphor of life and how we are thrown about on it whether it's to the better or not. And I'm not sure if this is clearly written but I'm no author.

  • Julie
    2018-12-10 07:59

    The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin is a 2014 Random House/ Nan A. Talese publication. The release date is scheduled for January 2014. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.The Mary Celeste is the stuff of legends. While the ship and the mystery surrounding it is real enough, this is a work of fiction.The ship was discovered abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean. All who were aboard the ship had disappeared and were never heard from again. The captain was Benjamin Briggs and with him on this particular journey were his wife and young daughter.After the ship was found it became legendary. The cause of the disappearance of all on board has been attributed to many things from under water earthquakes to piracy to the supernatural.Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became intrigued and wrote a story about it before he became famous for his Sherlock Holmes detective novels. He changed the name of the ship to the Marie Celeste for his story.This novel takes us back to that fateful journey aboard the Mary Celeste. We learn the circumstances of Sir Arthur Doyle's interest and subsequent article based on the story. The famed author's interest in spiritualism put him in contact with a medium who was directly related to those on board the Mary Celeste. Violet Petra is the medium and a young journalist named Phoebe Grant attempts to expose her as a fraud. However, Phoebe doesn't have much luck in that department. Instead she become intrigued by Violet and her family background. It was interesting to me how the author entertwined the elements of this story together. We get a glimpse of the life of Captain Briggs and his family and what the conditions were like on the ship. We are later privy to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's article or short story that the family was not all that pleased with, and then had him come into direct contact with Violet. The two of them formed an alliance as did Phoebe and Violet, although Violet was not a very happy woman. Despite being very popular and sought out, Violet never married and remained in virtual isolation most of her life. The two friendships she formed later in her life may have been the closest relationships she ever hard. But, just like the Mary Celeste, Violet's life became yet another mystery that was never solved.This is a historical fiction novel with a basis in fact, but if you look beyond that, you will see a kind of love story that takes place between the characters still living and those who have passed on. It may sound all so tragic, but perhaps those who were victims found peace after all. I enjoyed this book. It was really unique. There were some moments when things didn't flow evenly. I had to adjust to what I felt was a sudden shift from one part of the story to the next. Other than that I highly recommend the book to lovers of historical fiction and mystery with just a hint of the paranormal. Overall this one gets an A.

  • Theresa
    2018-12-18 04:05

    Oh for the love of all things holy I struggled with this book! I almost gave up at least twice. I had to talk myself into giving it another go every time I sat down to read. At nearly the half way mark it had managed to go off in at least three different directions and seemed to have little to do with the Mary Celeste. The completely unrelated blurb on the back of the book and title hooked me into reading this stinker. What I was lead to believe I was going to read and what was written were very different. I thought I was going to enjoy a fictionalized account surrounding the mystery of what happened to the captain and crew aboard the Mary Celeste, but certainly that is not what happened. The book is primarily about Arthur Conan Doyle (before he became Sir), the author of Sherlock Holmes, and his minor role in the mystery all because he wrote a fictional story based on what happed to the vessel. Then rest of the book was about mediums, spirits, spiritual retreats, a fictionalized journalist, and the crazy séance parlor games popular during the late 1800's in which this book is set. Granted the author tried to tie everything up by the end but by then it was far too late. I simply didn't care! Now, having said all of that--- this truly was not a poorly written book except perhaps in timing of the plot. It is obvious the author is skilled at crafting a story. The writing was smooth and flowed well especially considering the choice of antiquated prose pervasive throughout the book. (That really isn't a harangue-- the prose fit the time and setting) However, I think the author should stick to telling ONE story from the beginning and/or attempt to tie everything together long before the final chapter. What happened here is I simply had little interest in the story that the book actually contained. I believe the marketing division did this author no favors. If the marketing had been honest and wrote a true description for the back cover I'm sure this book would have found readers interested in the story provided. However, as the current Goodreads ratings and reviews shows many appear to feel cheated or betrayed and disliked the bait and switch perpetrated by the publishing company.I definitely would not recommend this book UNLESS you are interested in the true synopsis I have provided earlier and you are patient enough to read multiple story lines that seem not to fit together until the last 40 pages. If that's the case this book will not be a disappointment.

  • Kelly B
    2018-11-24 09:53

    The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is a novel based on the true life events of the ship Mary Celeste. The Mary Celeste was found abandoned in the open seas in the late 1800s, the crew and captain (as well as the captain's wife and daughter) never to be seen again. Ever since, the mystery of the Mary Celeste has provided fodder for books and movies alike.This book is very atmospheric, with the sea playing a big part in the story. Not only is it the story of the Mary Celeste, but also of the Captain's family, the Spiritualist movement, and Arthur Conan Doyle. Some of the things that happen in the book are based on true life events, such as the Spiritualist movement spending summers at Lake Pleasant.I loved how the author fit everything together; the chapters are written from differing points of view and each chapters reveals a bit more of the puzzle. I also liked how the author kept a few of the questions open ended. I really enjoyed this book, and read it in just a day or two. It's got fascinating characters and a great plot. It's also a bit spooky in spots, what with the ghosts and other strange happenings.

  • Moira Crone
    2018-11-28 07:10

    This novel was beautifully written, in exquisite prose---the level of historically accurate detail about every gesture and scene was astounding. Also, the novel had a wonderful sense of construction. We are constantly moving from the consciousness and concerns of one to character another while we navigate fictional and historical scenes. In the end the book just exploded with a finer, higher "reality" than any of the scenes had actually rendered up until the end. So many questions, and one or two answers---the narrative construction of the novel was masterful, and one of its greatest pleasures. Only a very accomplished and assured novelist could have achieved this feat of fictional composition, the narrative design. Valerie Martin is such a writer. Bravo. Wow.

  • Stacey
    2018-11-21 09:00

    Very good. I was expecting more historical fiction about the ship, but when I looked it up, there isn't much to tell. So Martin wove a great story with fine characters with what little information we do know about The Mary Celeste and took off from there. This is a book that I will want to read again to grasp the little details and be captivated all over again.

  • Amy
    2018-12-16 02:55

    BORING. Gave this book longer than I otherwise would have because I was listening to the audio during a trip . . . but even then I gave up half way through because I just didn't care what happened. Bored.

  • Karol
    2018-12-08 09:55

    Captivating and a little eerie. Very well written. I found myself lingering over the pages of this novel.

  • Emily Crowe
    2018-12-07 02:11

    I think Valerie Martin is a very good writer and it's clear to me that I am far more drawn to her historical fiction than her contemporary fiction.

  • Beth Roberts
    2018-11-20 02:05

    I understand why this has had lower reviewer ratings. Though the research is excellent and the writing is not subpar, this is not an engaging book: the characters are a bit flat, the storyline drags and then. Then there is the premise.The title and cover both promise a ghost ship, a ghost story. While there are some of those elements, this is not a book about a ship, exactly. It's a story about secondary and even tertiary characters. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Spiritualist Movement. That's not a bad thing, by any means, but it also is not as interesting as it could be. It's hard to explain why. Trying to not include spoilers here, but there really is no resolution. How can there be? The factual basis is, no one knows, or will ever know, probably, what really happened to the Mary Celeste and her crew. Anyone who might've known, theoretically through spiritual intervention, was lost. So, I give this one my average rating. Historically, it's not a bad book and the fiction is good, though convoluted and reaching. Unlike the sea, though, this one just fell rather flat.