This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but once I realised the concept, I thought what a brilliant way of bringing as many famous people together from various ages in one place, one era, all interacting with one another in a fun amusing way.
The story takes us through the popular events of the year starting with January and ending with Christmas. The ‘ghosts’ mingle amongst the living as they visit the Abbey during the day and do the usual haunting as part of their daily routines. The most interesting scenes are played out by the main characters such as Edward the Confessor, Anne of Cleves, Anne Neville, Richard III, Edward III, Margaret Beaufort, Mary, Queen of Scots, her son James I, Elizabeth of York, the Merry Monarch - Charles II, Kit Marlowe, Will Shakespeare and Henry VII. His son (Henry VIII) and successor does not make an appearance, though Hal’s daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, do and they are always at loggerheads, as you can imagine they would be if they were to meet up as ghosts. Some of the most poignant scenes are between two kings who fought each other on the battlefield and the reader cannot help but feel touched by their reconciled differences. Some of the dialogue is pure genius, and one of my favourites is a reference to being buried under a carpark for centuries. But Queen Mary chastising her great grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, was excellent: “Oh do Shut up!”…. “Go and find some heretics to whinge at and leave the rest of us in peace!”
To put together a cast of kings, queens and nobles, not to mention playwrights and other literary forces, must have taken the author a lot of research to create the amusing interactions and the witty quips that some of the characters (most of whom are very erudite) throw at each other. The author writes with an interesting style – there are many changes in view-points but in this instance this works very well, but it was a little confusing to know which Anne, Catherine or Mary was playing at times. The overall concept is very good, in fact genius, but despite these entertaining scenes and the clever way the author weaves each character’s personality traits into their ghostly bodies, perhaps opportunities for more of an ongoing plot were missed? Having said that, one of the last scenes is very tender, and there is a moment or two of serious poignancy and I couldn’t resist feeling a touch of emotion.
I look forward to reading another of this series as I understand there are two others already reviewed by Discovering Diamonds (Kindred Spirits the Tower of London, Kindred Spirits The Royal Mile, Edinburgh) .
© Paula Wilcox
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