About the Book
Six years ago, Gwynn Forest’s husband Richard committed suicide. After that, she struggled to keep things together, emotionally, mentally, and financially. Then three fortuitous things happened: she sold the family construction company; she inherited a seaside cottage from an elderly English great-aunt whom she had never met, and she was offered a job on spec, illustrating a book for a friend. Thus, a new start in a new place. Once ensconced in Gull Cottage, she begins to learn disturbing things about her great-aunt and her new home. The cottage itself seems unwelcoming, perhaps haunted by the imprint of a sad and lonely old woman, with peculiar noises, strange happenings, and a back garden full of untamable brambles, no matter how much they are cut back.
Gwynn doesn’t believe in ghosts—until the disturbing occurrences at Gull Cottage change her mind. Gwynn doesn’t believe in herself—until, with no one else to turn to she has to rely on her own inner resources to confront the mysteries of Gull Cottage.
For Readers and Book Clubs:
“This is an excellent story for lovers of mysteries, ghost stories and of excellent, literary writing. The author, Anne Britting Oleson is a first-class poet and she writes beautifully, sensitively and tenderly, exploring emotions as well as a complex plot. I recommend this book to everyone. It will keep you reading and guessing and simply enjoying the act of reading until you reach the very end.” — Casey Dorman, Editor: Lost Coast Review
GWYNNETH APPROACHED THE blue door, key in hand. On the stoop before it, a small earthenware pot was tipped on its side, the dry friable soil spilling out onto the stone, the unrecognizable plant dead and spindly. A sudden shiver wracked her, and she glanced around hurriedly. A dead plant on the step of a dead woman’s house. Why hadn’t it been cleaned off, taken care of? In her exhausted state, she was petty. Peevish.
A cold pelt of rain had her ducking forward on the tiny stone terrace, shoving the key into the lock. At least this had been oiled recently. The key turned easily, and with one last look down into Eyewell Lane, where the cab had disappeared, she put her shoulder to the door and bumped her suitcase inside.
Inside, she found the front entryway, this late in the afternoon, to be dark and cold. Unwelcoming. She shook herself. Don’t be stupid. It’s just a house. A faint scent of beeswax and lavender floated on the air. She left the suitcase behind, moving warily, a hand to the wall. To the left, a door leading into a room that ran the length of the cottage. Her footsteps were hushed on the worn carpet. She explored the wall for a moment before she realized there was no switch. The fading light falling from the single window to the front of the room didn’t reach far inside, but was enough to show her the lamp on the table beneath it. Other lamps, beside two chairs at the opposite side of the room. In the center, a dining table surrounded by four carved-back chairs. She moved and was startled until she realized that the motion on the far side of the room was only her reflection in a heavy-framed mirror. Slowly she backed out and turned to the right hand doorway.
Here was the sitting room. Two more arm chairs, one of them wing-backed, faced a Queen Anne sofa. To her left, a bookshelf, atop which a steadily ticking clock reposed. A wood-burning stove in a low stone arch took up the far wall. Kitty-corner to that, the door, which should lead to the kitchen—or so she surmised, anyway—and Gwynn made her way around the sofa toward it. The carpet here was less worn, and her footsteps made no sound. The kitchen door was closed, and she put a hand to it, suddenly cautious again, suddenly nervous. She pushed the door open. No one was there. Of course there was no one there. The appliances stared back at her blindly. This room had a small window to the front, but this late in the day, this late in the season, very little light came in any way. A wall switch to her right gave life to an overhead light, and the room sprang up, bright, newly scrubbed.
A tea tray stood near the polished stove top, an electric kettle, flex cord wound loosely, next to it. Gwynn crossed the tiled floor for a closer look. All set save the milk. She opened the refrigerator to find an unopened pint, and a pan of what revealed itself to be, when she lifted the cover, lasagna.
A welcome of sorts. Gwynn closed the refrigerator, then unwound the cord and plugged it in. She wondered whether she had her great-aunt’s solicitor to thank for this. Or the cleaning lady—also her great-aunt’s—he’d kept on to make the cottage presentable for her.
Either way, when the kettle clicked off, she made the tea and carried the tray back into the sitting room to have a cup, and to consider her next steps.