Wonderful New "Ghostwriter" Review

Funmbi over at Goodreads wrote  a great review of Ghostwriter.

** spoiler alert ** I was very pleased to have received a ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. Lissa Bryan has been on my radar for some time, so when I found out about Ghostwriter, I knew I needed to read it as soon as possible. I tell you now: Bryan supersedes every single one of my expectations. She writes with such evocative and descriptive language. It's easy to place myself in the protagonist's shoes, to visualize and experience the settings, conversations, and events. I enjoy every moment of this book, and gladly give 4.5 stars.
We begin with Sara, a recently unemployed newspaper journalist. After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, she's basically living hand to mouth, unable to pay her rent. She's been offered a position to be a ghostwriter for an up and coming politician. Using the advance she receives, Sara sets out to find a more affordable apartment. By chance, luck, or fate, Sara is given the opportunity to rent a house on a private island. And even more exciting, this house used to belong to her favorite writer, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously died in 1925. Sara instantly falls in love with the house and the life she can potentially build there. One day, while exploring, she comes across new information (via letters) about Seth's life. While learning more about Seth-his marriage, his family relationships, his time in World War I-it seems Seth may have never left the island. As Seth reveals himself and his secrets to Sara through her dreams, will she be able to help him heal and move beyond this world?
I have to say I love Bryan's characterization. She gives us well formulated characters with realistic qualities, some we admire and other characters we'd rather live without (or throw over a bridge). 
I like Sara. She's kind, caring, and mild mannered. Even though she's basically starving, Sara enjoys living a simple, quiet life as a writer. From the beginning, I'm rooting for her. I want her to escape the ridiculous expectations of her mother and ex-boyfriend, finding happiness for herself.I also enjoy learning about Seth, though discovering the way her suffers-first through WWI and then at the hands of his own family-is absolutely heartbreaking. But through their relationship, both Seth and Sara confront their past horrors and support one another in overcoming the pain. They can finally let go.
To be completely honest, several times while reading, I find myself conflicted. I want so badly to enjoy the beautiful romance. But in the back of my mind, I keep trying to reconcile how, given their circumstances, Seth and Sara can be together. However, I shouldn't have been concerned because Bryan delivers us a beautiful, satisfying, and surprisingly logical ending. 
A few comments:
I enjoy the dream world Seth and Sara create together. WWI is one of my favorite time periods to study, and I can't imagine the amount of research Bryan had to do to be able to write so convincingly about it. The scenes Seth takes us to are graphic, realistic, and jarring. But there are wonderful moments too, like the speakeasy and the picnic in the park, which are also stunning in their description. Yet, again, while reading, I'm concerned! How can Sara continue to live this dream life?
From the initial meeting, I am suspicious of the Fortner family. Why are they so secretive about Seth's death? Why is Ginny so insistent that Sara live in this house? And then to find out the history of the Fortner's wealth...that century later, the family is still fighting over Seth's money...it's shameful and heartbreaking.
Seth's relationship with Marcella is so sad. It's truly unfortunate to see the the depth of Seth's love for his wife and then witness its degradation. At first, I'm very resentful and angry towards Marcella, but with Seth, I come to realize his good intentions play a part in driving her away:"...but in trying to protect her, he cut off communication with her and distanced himself."
I also enjoy watching Sara introduce Seth to new technology. One of the most poignent moments, for me, is when Seth learns there has been a second World War and several wars after it. His distress is so heart-felt when he questions the point of the first great war...all those lives lost, only for the world to have to endure conflict again and again.
Some of my favorite scenes involve the rather normal and natural progression of Seth and Sara's relationship:
- On the beach when Seth and Sara speak for the first time :)
- When Seth makes Sara blush
- Their first kiss... *sigh*
- The book inscription! "To Sara, who is poetry in motion." *cries*
- Sara wanting more intimacy, Seth trying to hold off for propriety's sake...
- Seth writing "I love you" in the sand! *cries*
- The proposal 
- The wedding
- The wedding night: "You can touch me however you like. I'm yours Seth" OOLALA! 
Even though tragedy, greed, life, death, and others' deception threaten to separate Seth and Sara, they find their happiness.
This book is truly one of a kind: an engaging plot, set in the present, yet taking us on a journey across time and place. We fall in love, worry, puzzle, fume, lament, and overcome, just as Seth and Sara do. This book is an absolute MUST READ. Dive in the first chance you get; then come find me so we can flail together.
BRAVA Lissa!

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