A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House Paperback – Jan 8 2012
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About the Author
Mark Spencer (Monticello, AR) is the award-winning author of three novels, two short story collections, and a history book. His numerous writing honors include the Faulkner Society Faulkner Award, the Omaha Prize for the Novel, the Patrick T. Bradshaw Book Award, and four Special Mentions in Pushcart Prize. He and his family have lived in the Allen House since 2007. Visit the author online at AllenHouseTours.com.
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The Spencer family, two professional parents and three children, have fallen in love with a house which they eventually purchase and inhabit. Besides the usual challenges of a century old structure with a history of neglect, there are also ghostly inhabitants. Spencer approaches the other-worldliness with a spirit of open-minded discovery that is as surprising and dramatic as the ghostly saga that is the titled story-line of the book. While the eerie, haunted events of the past unfold through Spencer's dogged research, the writer and the reader become increasing accepting of the house's strange inhabitants and occurrences. Spencer seems to be saying "yes" to all he encounters, with a gentle reverence that slowly becomes contagious and then, finally, deeply moving. The book shows how the challenge of accepting one's fate, despite personal beliefs and preferences, is done. The reader is entertained, informed, and inspired. An unexpected and satisfying experience.
Even those who spurn "ghost stories" should be captivated by that of Ladell Allen in the second half. Her story is as poignant and universal as anything can be, and the author's strong empathy with her enhances it greatly. The way that Spencer is able to "piece together and imagine the events" of Ladell's life is probably the single most amazing thing about this amazing book. His exhaustive research into the history of the house and its former residents is well-presented without becoming ponderous, and his speculations on the motives behind the acts of Ladell, Prentiss Hemingway Savage (whose doomed love affair with Ladell almost certainly led to her suicide), various other members of the Allen family, and why many of their spirits linger on at 705 North Main Street, Monticello, Arkansas, are unusually perceptive. Virtually any reader will come away knowing more about human nature than s/he did before.
It is always necessary for writers of historical nonfiction to extrapolate details and dialogue from the more general information they have available, and where it becomes necessary for Spencer to fill in the blanks regarding how the meetings between Ladell and Prentiss might have gone, he does so both creatively and responsibly. The immediacy here is as powerful as that in the first half of the book. We have an overwhelming sense of being alongside the characters, with little need to suspend disbelief.
_A Haunted Love Story_ comes highly recommended, not only to those interested in the supernatural but to anyone with the desire to read a skillfully written and thoroughly engrossing book. If my review has held your interest this far, reading the book should prove all-the-more fulfilling. I encourage you to do so as soon as possible.