Rosie Walsh’s Ghosted (called The Man Who Didn’t Call upon its British release) takes the reader into a labyrinthine tale about the power of romantic, parental and familial love, and the lengths a person in love might be willing to go to in order to protect that love.
For one perfect week, in a halcyon summer fling in the Gloucestershire countryside during their family vacations, thirty-seven year-old American-dwelling British ex-pat Sarah Mackey and Brit Eddie David fell in love. It was a spontaneous, out of nowhere love, but it feels true and real to Sarah; in her mid-30s, she’s never felt a connection like this to a man before, and Eddie confesses that he feels the same way about her. They make plans to meet again after Eddie finishes a business trip to London; when a week goes by and he doesn’t make contact, Sarah is convinced something serious has happened. She believes the connection between them is so strong that he’d never ghost her.
Sarah’s oldest friends, Jo and Tommy, think she should forget Eddie; it was just a single week, after all. But when Sarah begins to withdraw emotionally, Jo encourages her to keep chasing Eddie. As she does, memories flood back of a tragic incident involving her sister, the irrepressible and now fully estranged Hannah, and of her failing (and still undisclosed to Eddie) marriage to a doctor named Reuben; her own vocation as a doctor and the charity she started with him.
The deeper Sarah crawls into the wormhole of Eddie’s disappearance, the more she learns about him, and the messier her life becomes. Might Eddie have been driven off by Googling her? Might he really be dead now? Or is he hiding something? All she knows is that she wants the merry, laughing Eddie back in her life, and she will do anything to find him.
To reveal too much about Ghosted would be a sin. Let’s just say that that the situation with Sarah and Eddie is far more complex than either party even anticipated, which is what kept me eagerly turning the pages. The writing is smooth and engaging; very rich, lyrical and even ornate. it’s perfumed with longing and romance, with the pain of feeling the absence of one’s partner. It is about true love, in all of its forms, about secrets, about children lost and found, infidelity and change. It’s very human and very beautiful; heedlessly romantic and deeply tragic, sometimes quite soapy and sometimes quite kitchen-sink real.
Their romance is easy to believe in. Sarah’s uncertain future and dark past disappear whenever she’s around Eddie, and while she’s intently focused on him, her life continues and she continues to live it in all of its complications. Sarah and Eddie both have their guilt, layers and complexities, and unraveling them alongside them is fun work. It’s a very old-fashioned novel in many ways; it reminded me of early-period Danielle Steele in the best of ways.
Only one thing didn’t work for me – the events at the very end of the book felt a little too fairytale, a little too wave-the-magic-wand-and-all-is-well. But some readers will adore this, and in the end it doesn’t detract from the novel’s enchanting whole. Ghosted is ultimately a an appealing jewel of a novel with some very surprising and captivating twists.