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Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee

Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee is the aforementioned novel that had common themes and settings with The Violets of March, previously reviewed here on the blog.  Both cheating husbands are real pieces of work, but the cheating husband in this one is a real stinking piece of work.

Jasmine is called home to Shelter Island in Puget Sound by her beloved aunt Ruma to take care of her aunt's eccentric bookstore while Ruma travels to India for a month.  It's a perfect opportunity to get away--to get away from her job, to get away from the ex-husband that cheated on her, to get away from the painful divorce proceedings that keep dragging on.  It's the perfect opportunity to return to her home, her roots and her family to heal from the betrayal of a cheating husband.

When Jasmine arrives she finds a dusty, gloomy, cluttered, old fashioned bookstore housed in a lovely, temperamental Victorian house that gets "cranky" when left unattended overnight.  This is a fact that Ruma fails to share when she asks Jasmine to come out for the month; she also fails to fully explain this once Jasmine arrives.  In fact Jasmine is mostly left to figure this one out on her own.  The house is full of books--and phantom odors, disembodied voices, random rays of sunlight, shifting portraits, glowing book titles and rooms of books that shift and seemingly rearrange themselves.  In a word the bookstore is enchanted and residence to the phantoms of the long dead authors of the books it sells.  As Jasmine helps the customers who come to the store looking for specific books to treat their ills in life, she is clued in to the strange eccentricities of the house.  Jasmine realizes that her aunt has a special gift, a kind of synergy with the house and its ghosts.   It enables her to suss out the needs of her customers, even when they might not even know those needs themselves, and interpret the signals the house gives her in order to fulfill her customers' queries.  It's a gift that Jasmine does not share, but the longer she stays in the house, the more mysterious happenings occur, Jasmine wonders: is she going crazy or does she have more in common with her aunt than she realizes?

Meanwhile Jasmine struggles to heal in the wake of her brutal divorce.  She's determined to remain alone, to scorn any chance at future love, all the better to protect herself from any further betrayals.  But the house and a mysterious stranger who seems to appear and disappear at will have other plans and both refuse to be put off.

The island setting of this novel is not as much of a living, breathing character as it was in The Violets of March.  While the writing of this book is at times lyrical, at other times it is little awkward or stilted, such as much of the dialogue of the characters.  The phantom spirits in this novel are treated more as enchantments than as supernatural entities (if that makes sense) and that aspect of the book is done extremely well.  This book, like Violets, is also a quick read.  If you have read Violets, you'll like this book (and if you've already read this book, you might try Violets next).

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Carmen said…
This book sounds fascinating, or was it your review?

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