The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick

10/10

WARNING: Spoilers abound!

Is this book considered a classic? What actually designates a classic piece of literature? According to everything I’ve read, the work has to be considered both noteworthy and exemplary. But… it kind of seems like “academics” pick books, put them on lists with the heading “Classics,” and then we make school children read them.

If I, a small piece of cheese, was the one labeling classics, I would pick this book over Lord of the Flies any day, even if it is a ghost story/romance. (Which is not to say that no one should read Lord of the Flies, I just didn’t appreciate it in the 7th grade as much as I enjoyed it later in life).

Anyway, back to The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. This book is an oldie- published in 1945 in the UK by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick. (Another quick digression: ladies publishing works under male names in order to get published is such a weird subject with me… I want to applaud them for their daring and bravery, while I also want to rage abut the fact that women find it so difficult to gain recognition under female names.) Ok, back to the subject actually at hand.

I was handed this book by my mother and told that I’d probably like it. I was skeptical, but boy did I learn my lesson! This book is fascinating. It’s well written, it’s compelling, it’s delightfully absurd.

On the surface it’s about a housewife who, recently widowed, decides to move to a little cottage by the sea in order to escape the grip of her in-laws. She moves in, and discovers that the cottage is haunted by the ghost of an old seaman, who died due to a faulty gas heater (although it was ruled a suicide).

Together, the unlikely duo of Mrs. Muir and Captain Gregg take on Muir’s pesky in-laws (and later her son), publish a best-selling book, and have many other enjoyable adventures in Gull Cottage. They also sort of fall in love, which is sweet as long as you don’t dwell on the fact that he’s dead.

To put it simply, this book is a timeless classic with depth and levity in just the right amounts, and it’s a shame that didn’t read it sooner. 10/10, easily.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE? Oh, I am soooo glad I asked that of myself.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE? Oh, I am soooo glad I asked that of myself.

First of all, there is indeed a movie. Made in 1947, it stars Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. In my opinion, it can only described as “pretty good.” It is authentic to the tone of the book, which is important. It deviates in some pretty significant ways, too, but most of them are forgivable (it would be a lot to ask to ask for a perfect representation of the book on the screen). But something about the beauty was lost in translation, so if you’re planning on reading the book, leave a little space between when you finish the novel and hit play on the movie. I left a gap of only a few hours, and it most certainly dampened my enjoyment of the film. All of that being said, it’s a nice movie. 7/10 stars seems pretty fair.

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!

In the 1968, the decision was made to make a TV version of the novel. It took place in the 1960s, and starred Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare as Mrs. Muir and Captain Gregg. The show… is nothing much like the book except in title and basic outline. I’ve seen only a few episodes of the first season, but it is, in a word, hilarious. It’s a sit-com, and so it ridiculous in the way that all sit-coms inevitably are, but it is also laughable that someone read the original novel or saw the 1947 adaption and said “Let’s change almost everything!” All the same, it was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon watching a few episodes. It’s cute. 6/10.

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