Family GhostsSo, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Or was Ava's Charlie just a figment of her imagination and surroundings?
I’m often asked about the paranormal elements in Summer in the South. Readers generally fall into two categories: those who think I should have expanded the paranormal theme, and those who think the ghostly “presences” were simply manifestations of Ava’s sleep disorder.
One of my favorite novellas is Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. I have always loved the story is because it can be read in either of two ways: (1) It is the story of a sexually repressed Victorian governess sent to care for two orphans on an isolated English estate who, through a mental breakdown, begins to “see” the ghosts of two dead servants; or (2) it is the story of a brave young governess determined to save her two charges from demonic possession by two very real and very evil, dead servants. Depending on the reader’s own beliefs and background, the story can be read from either viewpoint. (It’s fun to try and read it both ways.)
I knew when I wrote Summer in the South that it would be a tribute to the Gothic literature I grew up reading and loving. Mr. Lockwood’s dream of the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw knocking on the window at the farmhouse in the opening chapter of Wuthering Heights, not only sent a chill up my spine but also imbued the story with an “otherworldly” quality that deepened the tragic love story of Catherine and Heathcliff.
Is Woodburn Hall truly haunted by the ghost of Charlie Woodburn? I’ve never known an old Southern home lived in for generations by the same family that didn’t boast at least one family ghost. Or is the ghostly presence simply a manifestation of Ava’s growing obsession with Charlie, an obsession that intensifies as she begins to write her version of what happened to Charlie on that tragic evening nearly sixty years ago.
In the end, dear Reader, I suppose you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
Thank you, Cathy, for visiting us this month! I wish you continued success with your writing!