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The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's…
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The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation: A Christmas Story (1867)

by Louisa May Alcott

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In this Gothic novella from Louisa May Alcott, better known for such children's classics as Little Women, a Christmas house-party at a grand old English estate brings together a group of family and friends whose complicated, and often fraught relations are clarified and healed over the course of the holiday. The hero of the tale is Maurice Treherne, a young man confined to a wheelchair after saving the life of his cousin, Sir Jasper Treherne. Maurice's love is given to his cousin Octavia, although their romance is blocked by Jasper and Octavia's mother, Lady Treherne, who feels that she cannot in good conscience give her daughter to a cripple. Also in the party is Mrs. Snowdon, a beautiful young woman whose affections Jasper and Maurice once vied for, and who, despite her married state, seems determined to renew her conquest. Truths are revealed in the course of the story - why was Maurice disinherited? what is the true cause of the ghostly appearances in the attic? is Mrs. Snowdon truly without any nobler feeling? - and the virtuous and noble triumph, whilst converting all around them to a better frame of mind...

Having long been aware of Alcott's dual career, as the noted author of children's stories with a strong moral character, and as the anonymous creator of numerous magazine stories of a more sensational, and (for the times) less respectable nature, and having long loved such works as Little Women and Little Men, I have been curious to read some of the author's 'other' work. That being the case, when I saw The Abbot's Ghost on a Christmas display, I immediately picked it up. I cannot say, all told, that it was really that interesting. The developments were all rather predictable, from the heroic self-sacrifice of Maurice (including the secret reason for his disinheritance), to the angelic influence of Octavia. I was disappointed, moreover, that the afterword gave no indication of the story's history - what magazine was it published in, for instance? I'm glad to have read it, if for no other reason than the knowledge it has given me, regarding the kinds of sensational stories that Jo begins by writing in Little Women, during her sojourn in New York, but wouldn't strongly recommend it on its own merits. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Nov 25, 2015 |
This story is set over the Christmas period and New Year, featuring a complex plot, but complicated in a good way. Themes intertwine in an intriguing way, not an annoying way. I've never read anything by Louisa May Alcott before, but after enjoying "The Abbott's Ghost" I will be sampling more of her works in future.

Maurice Treherne loves his cousin - the young and beautiful Octavia - as does Frank Annon. Octavia's mother wants her to encourage Frank's interest, even though she knows her daughter has no love for the man, and furthermore she doesn't want Octavia getting involved with Maurice because he's in a wheeled chair.

The reason for Maurice's unfortunate state is through him risking his life to save Octavia's brother Jasper about a year before the events narrated in this story. Had he not been in this condition then Octavia's mother would alter her opinions. Doctors say he may or may not recover in time.

Maurice's poor condition does not stop one of the guests - Edith Snowdon - from bearing feelings towards him. Problem is, she's married to a man much older than herself. Oh yes, and Jasper has designs on this beautiful married woman.

Add a couple more pretty ladies and handsome men with their own interests and you have a fine set of characters in this brief tale. My personal favourite is Edith, as she is immensely graceful in appearance and complex as a person.

As to whether there really is a ghost in this tale, all I can say is read this book to find out. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Dec 22, 2013 |
Recommend this to anyone who enjoys period books as time machines or any Alcott fans. A quick read, more of a novella than a novel. Chiefly a mystery and romance novel though the setting is a grand estate party in England during the Christmas holidays. And yes, a touch of ghostliness. But not really for you if you're looking for Christmas cheer or a horror story. I enjoy these old books in two ways: 1 - It's interesting to see what was appealing and popular with readers of that time. 2. I adore the old fashioned mannerliness and honor of the heroes & heroines. The villains and their villainy are nothing by today's standards and in this story, at least, are redeemable. So refreshing! ( )
  PitcherBooks | Sep 8, 2013 |
Very old-fashioned. It's the story of two cousins, one of whom has lost almost everything for the other one's sake. The sort of book where everyone becomes a Better Person, except for the girl, who provokes these changes for the better by being a specimen of Pure Womanhood. Bleugh. ( )
  annesadleir | Aug 18, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louisa May Alcottprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hines, Stephen W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Maurice Traherne is wrongly accused of fraud and gambling and must play a careful hand if he is to win his love, Octavia, from the grasp of other, less honorable men and retain the trust of those who had faith in him. Traherne is temporarily crippled saving the life of his well-born friend, Jaspar. Thus, Jaspar is assured of inheriting his father's estate, but it is expected that Traherne will inherit great wealth as gratitude for saving the heir. But--surprise!--on the death of Jaspar's father all are shocked to learn that Traherne has been disinherited: the will has been changed at the last minute and only the suffering Traherne knows why but won't tell and then he falls in love with Jaspar's sister, the fair Octavia. However, Octavia is forbidden to marry, as Traherne is penniless.… (more)

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