A gumbo seasoned with ghosts, love, and murder on the bayou.
When 30-something Declan Fitzgerald of Boston, a successful lawyer and a member of a large and loving family, breaks off his engagement to very suitable Jessica, he knows he needs to change his life. Lawyering is not fun anymore, so, recalling Manet Hall, an old deserted plantation house he once visited with law school classmate and New Orleans native Remy, he buys the property and moves down south. Declan is also a gifted craftsman, a born decorator, and very, very rich. Soon, he meets beautiful Lena, who’s visiting her grandmother Odette, Declan’s friendly Cajun neighbor. Declan is as certain that Lena is destined to be his wife as he was that Manet Hall would become his home. But, surprise, Lena has a troubled past (like the house) and is determined to resist Declan’s courtship. While he suits Lena and works on the place, Declan experiences troubling dreams. It seems he’s actually reliving the novel’s parallel story, which took place in 1899. In that year, the maid, Abbey Manet (from whom Lena, coincidentally, is descended, and who married wealthy Lucian Manet), was raped and murdered by her brother-in-law Julian as she nursed her baby daughter. Her body was dumped into the bayou by her mother-in-law, who despised her. And grief-stricken husband Lucian, away at the time, being told that Abbey had run off, committed suicide. Now, in an unconvincing twist of gender and reincarnation, it’s Declan who hears a baby crying , experiences childbirth and rape as the reincarnation of Abbey, while Lena is Lucian. The two accept all this with equanimity, and, Manet Hall’s secrets revealed, it becomes the setting for predictable and much foreshadowed resolutions.
Agreeably credible lovers and a neat piece of home-restoration compensate some for the hokey hauntings on the bayou. Loyal fans will enjoy.