Saturday, 30 March 2013

Review: A Haunted Past Life (Jen's Story) by Carol Arnall

Here is my review of this great book by Carol Arnall, posted on yesterday.

Although this book is called A Haunted Past Life, Jen's story is one of a haunted present life, too. The book starts with a Cinderella-type setting (turned on its head with a stepfather rather than a stepmother) who is tied to the house because of agoraphobia, brought about by low self-esteem and confidence thanks to years of abuse by her stepfather and stepsisters. Her real father died when she was very young and her mother is unsupportive. The only friends she has are Angela and Jo, ghosts who visit her and offer comfort in her time of need.

When her stepfather tries to rape her Jen finds the strength to flee to Hoylake, Merseyside, in the car that her father left her, and get herself a flat. She begins a career as an online medium, helping those who approach her to find solace after losing loved ones. This brings Ian and his daughter into her life. When Ian begs for a personal consultation Jen braves her condition and drives to his house. Ian's young daughter has imaginary friends who Jen discovers are actually ghosts of children, and these ghosts visit her in the flat. Jen and Ian are becoming close romantically, but just as she is coming to terms with battling with her agoraphobia her car breaks down, and forced to go out to get groceries to feed herself and her new cat, she calls a taxi. The taxi driver, the mysterious Mike, doesn't drive her to the shops, he drives her to 1965, where she discovers she has a husband and young daughter - and no agoraphobia.

Jen's story alternates between her two lives in the 1960s and 2010s, and the reader is taken not only on a mystic journey but also a journey of emotions as Jen has to decide where her heart really lies.

I am the biggest cynic going when it comes to past lives, the reading of the cards and what they say for our future. Perhaps past lives exist, perhaps they don't - I know during regression therapy people report existences in a past lives - but the point is no one knows. As for ghosts I don't know whether they exist or not, but I would like to think so; as an author I would not dismiss exploiting this genre. However, it doesn't matter if you are a cynic. You need to read this book with an open mind and let yourself be swept away on the journey.

My only small query with this book is with the agoraphobia. Having never suffered with the condition myself I cannot comment on how easy it is to get over it. In the 1960s Jen doesn't seem to suffer with it so that's not the issue. It's just that in the 2010s scenes she tends to brave it a little too easily, so later in the book it isn't mentioned as being that much of an issue. Just a tiny observation on my part, but it could be I glossed over it too quickly.

Download it to your Kindle. You will enjoy it!

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