About the Book
A young girl, anonymous and ignored, sits through a cold, hard west-country winter, begging for change and searching for a warm place to sleep.
Ghosts of Spring explores one girl’s desire to transcend the limits of her environment and forge a new life against all the odds.
Format: Paperback (192 pages) Publisher: époque press
Publication date: 24th March 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
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When a book is described by Claire Fuller, author of the Costa Award winning Unsettled Ground, as a ‘carefully observed and deeply moving story’ and its author is described as ‘a wonderful writer’ by Sharon Duggal, author of Should We Fall Behind, you know you’re in for something special.
At first sight, Ghosts of Spring is very different from the author’s previous novel, El Hacho. It’s a story about urban homelessness and the day-to-day challenges of living on the streets told from the point of view of one young woman. We never learn her name or what precisely has occurred in her life to bring her to the point where she is alone and homeless. What we do know is it’s cold, bleak and winter is coming with a vengeance. We live alongside her as she struggles through each day, rummaging through charity bags for clothing to help withstand the cold or begging for change so she can buy a cup of tea, all the time guarding her meagre possessions from being stolen. The level of detail is extraordinary even down to the practicalities of dealing with menstruation.
The book is unflinching in its depiction of the plight of those forced to live on the streets, how they become seemingly invisible to the rest of society. ‘Hidden in plain sight amongst them, in nooks and doorways and sitting with heads hanging against cold stone walls are huddled shapes, blanketed and inert… Ghosts of flesh, they are here and everywhere and nobody sees a thing’. Just as the girl is nameless so are the other street dwellers she encounters, known only by the monikers she has given them – ‘Tiger-Beard’, ‘Shouts-A-Lot’ or ‘Lives-In-A-Tent’.
The girl’s experiences have forced her to develop ‘gnarly protective instincts’ and to trust no-one. The exception is Suni, a woman in a similarly vulnerable position but who is at least able to offer the girl a meal from time to time. When a series of events occur that starkly illustrate the dangers of life on the streets, for women in particular, the girl leaves the city without much idea of her destination. She arrives in the picture postcard village of Burford, thinking there may be rich pickings from the tourists who flock there.
Initially, the girl finds herself just as invisible as she did in the city until a random act of kindness changes everything. She is introduced to the beauty of the natural world exploring a very different landscape to the grim one she left behind. ‘She looks up over the fields to a fleet of sculpted white clouds running across the swathe of blue sky.’ We learn that generosity does exist in the world and there is the possibility of a different future.
I was one of the legion of fans of Luis Carrasco’s first novel El Hacho. It’s a skill to be able to pack so much into a relatively short book but, in Ghosts of Spring, he has managed it again. The book pulls no punches in its depiction of the daily experience of homelessness but it is, ultimately, a story of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.
My thanks to Sean at époque press for my review copy.
In three words: Tender, thought-provoking, eloquent
Try something similar: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
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About the Author
Luis Carrasco lives and writes in Gloucestershire. His debut novel El Hacho was published by époque press in 2018.
Ghosts of Spring is his second novel.
Connect with Luis