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SPIRIT LOST by Nancy Thayer



Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Scribners

Thayer's sixth is something of a surprise: a genre horror story, complete with a very corporeal ghost. Her former interests--in women at serious turning points in life--have faded into the background here, though her main character, Willy Constable, partakes of the same realism that distinguished earlier books (like Stepping and Three Women at the Water's Edge). Willy is married to John, an artist in one of Boston's top ad firms who decides to chuck it all to pursue his painting. She's all for the idea, and thankfully has an inheritance to bankroll their move to an old house on Nantucket Island. While Willy decorates the place, John struggles to reclaim his talent up in his attic studio. But his sketching is interrupted when a beautiful, black-cloaked woman appears at the skylight. John lets her in, his first mistake. His second is allowing her to seduce him. A trip to the library reveals that the lady is Jesse Orsa Wright, wife of a whaling captain who never returned from the South Seas. Once Jesse gets her claws in John, she will not let go, causing Willy considerable consternation. After a visit to old friends in Boston, Willy returns to find John's health and will to resist Jesse utterly sapped. Things come to a head when Willy fights Jesse, and John finally gives up his ghost. Straightforward pulp, and all too predictable at that. Thayer is a skilled writer, as the wild poltergeist episode shows, but most of her fans will wonder why she's wasting those skills chasing ghosts.