The basis for Joseph L. Mankiewicz's cinematic romance starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. Burdened by debt after her husband's death, Lucy Muir insists on moving into the very cheap Gull Cottage in the quaint seaside village of Whitecliff, despite multiple warnings that the house is haunted. Upon discovering the rumors to be true, the young widow ends up forming a special companionship with the ghost of handsome former sea captain Daniel Gregg. Through the struggles of supporting her children, seeking out romance ...
The basis for Joseph L. Mankiewicz's cinematic romance starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. Burdened by debt after her husband's death, Lucy Muir insists on moving into the very cheap Gull Cottage in the quaint seaside village of Whitecliff, despite multiple warnings that the house is haunted. Upon discovering the rumors to be true, the young widow ends up forming a special companionship with the ghost of handsome former sea captain Daniel Gregg. Through the struggles of supporting her children, seeking out romance from the wrong places, and working to publish the captain's story as a book, "Blood and Swash," Lucy finds in her secret relationship with Captain Gregg a comfort and blossoming love she never could have predicted. Originally published in 1945, made into a movie in 1947, and later adapted into a television sitcom in 1968, this romantic tale explores how love can develop without boundaries, both in this life and beyond. With a new foreword by Adriana Trigiani. Vintage Movie Classics spotlights classic films that have stood the test of time, now rediscovered through the publication of the novels on which they were based.
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I've long wanted to own a copy of the original book, and recently did get one from Alibris. While I loved the movie - I think the filmmakers did a great job adapting the book, and the actor selections were first-rate - the book is a must-read. It conveys more interesting ideas, and the ghost doesn't have his antics become the mainstay of the plot, which seemed more evident in the movie. Not that I blame them, they had to make the movie appealing, and that comic relief would be a part of its appeal.
I think the speculations of the author as to the afterlife was more interesting and refreshing, as it was never stated absolutely based on any one religion, and allowed for a broader world view as to what happens after we pass on. The Captain in the book also seems to have a more detailed opinion on people and their motivations than the movie, but again, the movie stands well on its own merits. A quiet read, but it has more between its pages than the current fluff out today.
Aug 8, 2010
I am writing this review to remind people there are better works of supernatural romance out there than Twilight. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is one such example. The novel was written in 1945 and then adapted into a film with George Sanders and later a TV series in the sixties.
The ghost and Mrs. Muir tells the story of a young widow, Lucy Muir who has decided she wants to break away from the control of her over-bearing and dominating in-laws. Already by this point the feminism and strength of the protagonist of the 1945 novel exceeds that of the more modern supernatural romance Twilight. When Lucy Muir finds a house to her liking she discovers very quickly that it is haunted by a very vocal spectre of an old sea captain by the name of Captain Daniel Gregg.
The ghost of Captain Daniel Gregg is one of my three favourite fiction ghosts. The list consists of Captain Daniel Gregg of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Sir Simon de Canterville from The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (particularly Patrick Stewart's portryal) and Hrothbert of Bainbridge AKA Bob from the short lived television series adaptation of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Hrothbert of Bainbridge doesn't exist in the actual Dresden Files novels).
The plot of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is pretty straight forward. A widow decides she doesn't want to be dominated by her in-laws so she moves to a house by the sea. The house happens to be haunted by a dead sea captain that everyone believes committed suicide but it turns out his death was accidental. The sardonic old ghost and the widow become reluctant friends after getting on each other's nerves. And eventually fall in love. The widow gets seduced by a living jerk (played by George Sanders in the movie) who is only using her. When Mrs. Muir starts to run out of money she writes a book (with the aide of the ghost) about life on the open seas called Blood and Swash and it ends up successful.
There's a lot of comedy in which the ghost puts her in-laws in their place by pulling pranks on them and provoking Mrs. Muir / tricking her into telling them off. But in the end I won't deny it's a romance and not everyone's sort of thing. In general I don't like romance novels but this one amuses me.
In The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, despite the ghost's seeming misogyny Lucy and the captain develop a quirky and strangely affectionate relationship. For all of his roughness and snark the captain is actually a gentleman inside. The character portrayals are realistic and very human unlike the protagonists of Twilight in which the characters are two dimensional archetypes to appeal to a shallow demographic.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir isn't just a sweet romance. It also has a running wit and humour completely lacking in most modern supernatural romances. It seems today all attempts at humour in romance become self-parodies. There's more to the story than just fluff. It's about taking control of your own life, standing up for yourself, independence, love and moving on, the power of love and friendship, and the value of love, life and family (no matter how unusual the definition might be), as well as the agelessness of real love all told with excellent wit and humour.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is highly underrated. It deserves more attention. It is a brilliant story far ahead of it's time. I actually wish there would be a new film adaptation of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, not because I think there is anything wrong with the first film adaptation, but because I think a new generation should be introduced to good supernatural romantic fiction as opposed to what is currently trendy and sadly many of the current generation won't watch a black and white film or read a novel more than twenty years old because they make negative assumptions about the content such as assuming it would be out dated, stuffy, cheesy or hard to follow. The ghost and Mrs. Muir is none of these things. It's a head of the curb and I certainly would rather re-read The ghost and Mrs. Muir than Twilight. Thanks to Terrence Mann's portrayal of Hrothbert of Bainbridge in the short lived Dresden Files TV series I can completely see him as Captain Daniel Gregg if there was a new film version to be made.
I strongly recommend The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to anyone interested in supernatural romance, ghost stories, dry wit, or just good literature in general. This semi-obscure gem needs more attention and I truly feel it is of a higher quality in writing than what is currently fashionable in supernatural literature and fantasy.
The edition currently for sale has a very plain, very boring berry coloured cover with no artwork at all. Don't judge a book by it's cover. The book is not plain or boring. It's the only supernatural romance I like. I have always loved supernatural fiction but I was never one for romance novels. This is actually a really fun read.
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