The central thesis of Lost by Gregory Maguire is that people are haunted not by ghosts, but by themselves and their own failures, stresses and worries for the future. For Winifred Rudge her ghosts are a failed marriage, her stalled writing career and her fears of never writing again.
Winifred Rudge, an author of children's fiction, has gone to London to work on an adult novel that has been rattling around in her head for a while. She plans to stay with an old friend but he's gone missing. In his place she finds superstitious builders trying (and failing) to do a quick remodel on the flat.
While Winifred is there she is the flat begins to manifest strange sounds, foul odors and the pattern of a cross with a zigzag through it. All of these events distract Winifred from her writing. Instead of working she works through a number of theories to figure out what is going on with the flat and more importantly what has happened to her missing friend.
Gregory Maguire starts with a well known story and then writes his own. He's best known for Wicked which tries to imagine the back story for the Wicked Witch of the West. For Lost he starts with A Christmas Carol and creates something that is half chick lit and half Gothic horror. Wicked and Lost are very different in style and form. Everything I wished he had done in Wicked he has done in Lost.
I didn't enjoy Wicked because it was too different in tone and setting from Oz as it was described in the Baum books. Oz was Oz in name only and was entirely disappointing to me having read most of the books numerous times. A Christmas Carol is another book I've read dozens of times but this time the link to Lost is thematic only. Instead of trying to write within Dickens's London and Scrooge's circle of acquaintances, Maguire sets the novel in modern-day London with a fictional family purporting to have a link to Charles Dickens and kinship to a man who may have been the inspiration for Scrooge. By using A Christmas Carol as a starting point, rather than a blueprint, Maguire manages to create a suspenseful Gothic horror with a chick lit facade. This book that I expected to hate ended up being one of the best (and scariest) novels I've this year.
books | fiction | Gregory Maguire | 2001