The Anatomy of Ghosts

Set in the late 1700's Andrew Taylor's The Anatomy of Ghosts is a mystery set in Cambridge University's Jerusalem College. The college is a small one and had been started by the ancestors of Lady Anne Oldershaw. The story opens with one woman (Mrs. Whitcote) wandering through the streets of Cambridge into the Jerusalem College gardens and another young woman dying before she can be the sacrifice for a group of collegians known as the Holy Ghost Club.

In London, John Holdworth is a book seller. His young son drowns in the Thames. His wife spends most of her time mourning her son while in the company of a medium who claims to be able to relay messages from the woman's dead son. After trying to get his wife some help, Holdworth writes a book debunking ghost sightings. This book, called The Anatomy of Ghosts has some success throughout London. Lady Oldershaw is familiar with the book.

Lady Oldershaw hires Holdworth to catalog and organize a large private library belonging to her late husband. She has another plan for Holdworth as well - she really wants to discuss ghost sightings. Her son, Frank, a student at Jerusalem College, has been institutionalized after losing his mind after seeing what he believes to be the ghost of Mrs. Whitcote. Frank was being initiated into the Holy Ghost Club the night he saw the ghost. Lady Oldershaw sends Holdworth to Cambridge to investigate what exactly happened to her son.

After all that background, the story finally starts. The set up takes along time and while interesting, the prose is difficult to find a rhythm in. It is evocative of another time - the time period the book is set in. Once you get used to the somewhat stilted language the story is a good one. There are plenty of secrets being kept at Jerusalem College and plenty of people who don't want their secrets out. Holdworth is a man you would want to know, Lady Oldershaw is a good example of an overprotective mother used to getting her way and Frank is the wild, rich college boy. The Holy Ghost Club is the secret society. They all come together is a somewhat surprising way. And the end of the story and the explanations of the ghost sightings is really clever.

Despite the slow start I enjoyed the book. It's a little bit creepy, but a good mystery overall.

Check our catalog

Comments List

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2020 Issues

December 2020

September 2020

June 2020

March 2020

2019 Issues

December 2019

September 2019

June 2019

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008