Wednesday, June 15, 2011

THE GHOSTS OF MELROSE by Buzz Malone: Review


Based upon true stories and set in the hills of the Southern Iowa Irish Catholic community of Melrose, this novel follws the life of Aidan Keane. Born into a family that has been cast out of the church and shunned by the community Aidan comes of age in depression era Melrose. His is a life marred my tragedy and he comes to believe that he, like his family before him, is victim of a family curse. 

Through the loss of everything dear to him in this world Aidan finds that his thoughts cannot escape the memory of his one true love. His life, for all of its hopelessness and despair, seems without meaning. 

In the spirit of Bridges of Madison County and the Notebook, The Ghosts of Melrose proves that time cannot heal every wound. Nothing can accomplish that sort of miracle in a life like Aidan's, nothing except for love.

My Review:

I was immediately drawn into the story of the Keane’s of Melrose. As a reader you feel such sorrow for this family that is excommunicated by a corrupt priest and turned out of their home and even their town. It’s shocking that people who had left their own country to come to America to escape religious persecution, ended up persecuting anyone who had different beliefs than they did in this country! It just goes to show that intolerance is learned, and that it takes more than one person to break the cycle of hatred and intolerance.

I wanted to cry for Aiden on his first day of school. I know kids can be cruel, but it’s shocking to think of young children being that horrible to others. I also was shocked by how the nuns treated Aiden just because of the fact that his grandfather had been excommunicated. Aiden was hated and persecuted for something that happened long before he had even been born.

The story lightens up when Aiden meets MacGregor. He’s a funny old Scot, who becomes a father figure to Aiden and his brother Doran. He adds some comedy to the book, and he has a colorful personality. He also helps to bring some happiness to Aiden’s life. Maizey also brings hope and happiness to Aiden’s life, and though she was his childhood sweetheart, his love of her gets him through many things in life.

I truly did like the story of Aiden’s life, but I had problems with the narrator of the story. I think that if it had been told through Aiden’s point of view or even through someone else who was closer in relation to the story, that it would have been a lot better. In this book you really have no idea who the narrator is. Obviously it’s told in 3rd person, and it’s omniscient, but the narrator talks about Aiden as though he is an old friend who knows everything about Aiden’s entire life. Often throughout the book the narrator reminded me of the kindergarten teacher who said, “Ok kids, lets sit down in a circle and I’ll tell you a story.” I felt that at times the way the story was told was very bland, almost monotone.  Rather than having the story unfold and develop, the narrator seemed to almost hold your hand in order to tell the reader every little thing that was going to happen. There was not much surprise in the novel, because the narrator pretty much told you what was going to happen before it happened.

It’s impossible for me to dislike this story, even though it seems like I did from the previous comments, because I really did enjoy the overall story. It’s a story about inner strength and survival. It’s very depressing through many parts, and Aiden suffers more loss than any human should have to suffer, but through his inner strength and hope he survives. I think that had it been written from a first person perspective, or maybe through the perspective of a close friend or relative, then it would have been much better.
My mother loved the story, but she agreed with me on some of the same points that I mentioned above. Neither one of us could put the book down, because we wanted to know how it ended, but at the same time we both thought that it could have been improved in several ways.

Although there were a couple things that bothered me, I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, because the story that is told is unforgettable.


  1. Sounds interesting. And a really good honest review. Thanks.

  2. Thanks! It was a good book...I won't take anything away from it, b/c the story definitely kept me turning the pages!