Ghost Woman by Lawrence Thornton
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Ghost Woman
By Lawrence Thornton

Ghost Woman

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Format: Paperback

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Ghost Woman by Lawrence Thornton

Book Description

Based on a chilling historical event, Ghost Woman is a tale of the arrogance of colonizers, rape, guilt, punishment and retribution. It is set on the Southern California coast during the early nineteenth century, when Catholic missionaries rounded up all the local Indians except those still living on San Nicolas Island. When this group is finally captured, one woman jumps from the boat and returns to the island for her missing child. The novel is that woman's story, and the story of the white family with whom her life becomes entangled after she too is taken from her island home.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520220683
ISBN-10: 0520220684
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x 19mm)
Pages: 302
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 27-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States

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Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Thornton (Imagining Argentina, 1987, Under the Gypsy Moon, 1990) expands on an ancient Indian legend - and gives it a pronounced Greek-tragedy twist - in this haunting tale of an Indian woman on the California coast who transforms the lives of all who know her. Most inhabitants of early 19th-century Santa Barbara have heard the legend of the Ghost Woman who haunts San Nicolas Island: a member of an Indian tribe removed by ship to serve the local mission ten years before, she is said to have jumped ship, drowned in the ocean, and returned to wander the island as an evil spirit. When portly, ambitious Fray Santos of the Santa Barbara mission becomes convinced that the woman may still be alive, his dreams of bringing about a miraculous conversion spur him to contract adventurous shipowner Henry Harper to take him to the island. To everyone's amazement, the Indian woman is indeed found still living in her abandoned village, wearing a dress of feathers and praying to a totemic, feather-covered miniature ship with which she believes she brought her rescuers to her shore. She is brought back in triumph to Santa Barbara, where the needs and desires of her several hosts - Fray Santos, who depends on her to pave his path to glory in Rome; Henry Harper, who lusts after her; Henry's lonely wife, Elizabeth, who befriends the woman and names her Soledad - initiate an inexorable chain of transgressions that cuts deep into the next generation. Thornton's measured, elegiac style adds an undertow of mystery and wonder to what is, in essence, classic tragedy. Though readers may balk at a poorly disguised contrivance here and there, the tale's mythic power is worth the subterfuge. Solemn, engaging, and politically correct. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Lawrence Thornton

Lawrence Thornton is the author of the novels Tales from the Blue Archives (1997), Naming the Spirits (1995), Under the Gypsy Moon (1991), and Imagining Argentina, which won the 1987 PEN/Hemingway Award and the PEN/USA West Award, as well as the Commonwealth Club Prize for first novel and the Shirley Collier Award. He also wrote Unbodied Hope: Narcissism and the Modern Novel (1984). He lives in Claremont, California.

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