I’ve always liked ghost stories. Not creepy crawly cold dead misty ghost stories, but the kind of ghost story in which the ghost says, “Hello. I understand you have just moved into your ancestral home/estate/castle. I am your Cavalier/Colonial/Civil War era forebear, and I would like to tell you all about some exciting things that happened to me so that you may obtain useful lessons to apply to your own life and perhaps solve a centuries-old family mystery in the process.”
The kind of ghost story in which the ghost sits down and has a lengthy, detailed conversation with you.
I always wished that would happen to me. I have not yet given up hope.
As a ghost story, The Sherwood Ring (1958)by Elizabeth Marie Pope is not straight historical fiction, but I love it so much I must write about it, and this is my blog, so I get to bend the rules.
Sometime in the 1950s, Peggy Grahame is sent by her dying father (who never has had much time for her) to live at Rest-and-be-thankful, the ancestral family home in Upstate New York, with her uncle (who is obsessed with family history and also has very little time for her). Peggy’s life would be very lonely if it weren’t for her ancestral ghosts and a handsome visiting scholar named Pat Thorne. (Tehehe! as one of my BFs would say, while fluttering her fingers in front of her mouth).
The ancestral ghosts tell the story of a British officer named Peaceable Drummond Sherwood who organizes a ring of guerrilla fighters in Upstate New York during the American Revolution. Colonial Colonel Richard Grahame is sent to capture Sherwood because he knows the area. Peaceable and Richard narrate the book, along with Eleanor Shipley, a Grahame family friend, and Richard’s sister, Barbara. And then there’s Peggy herself, so count them: five narrators. But it never gets confusing.
Elizabeth Marie Pope’s The Perilous Gard (1974) was already one of my favorite books. When I went to order a new copy because mine was falling apart, Amazon told me I might also like The Sherwood Ring. I thought that was probably true, so I ordered it. And twenty pages in, I looked to see what other books Elizabeth Marie Pope had written.
You know what I might also like, Elizabeth Marie Pope? More books from you. But am I going to get them? No, because you died in 1992, you wrote two novels two decades apart, and you spent your career teaching Shakespeare and Milton! I mean, I see the influence of Shakespeare and Milton in your work, but don’t we have enough people teaching Shakespeare and Milton? Did you need to do it, too?
Two novels. That’s all. Two novels. Were you not thinking of me, Elizabeth Marie Pope?
I like ghosts who tell stories. I wish ghosts would write books. Then maybe I’d have a chance of getting another story from Elizabeth Marie Pope. Whose ghost would you like to have write another book for you?