Hattie Hastings is left a widow when a sudden accident kills her life-long love, Gary. Devastated by his death, Hattie is struggling to cope when she receives comfort from the most unlikely of sources: Gary’s ghost.
Hattie’s first challenge is to convince her best friend, Cat, and her brother ,Jack,that Gary actually appears to her. Meanwhile, mother Rachel, a woman who lives life to the fullest, is hiding something from Hattie. Cat is tempted to reconnect with her horrible ex-husband, and Johnny is trying to find a purpose in his life.
Gary, stuck in limbo, meets young Marty and takes on a mission that will lead him into the afterlife.
Surrounded by family and best friend Cat, Hattie slowly begins to build a new life with Gary’s help and advice.
Theme of the Book
While the main points of The Haunting of Hattie Hastings concern death and loss, the theme is not one of sadness and tragedy. This is a novel with hope, love, and courage taking center stage.
What I Liked About the Story
The Haunting of Hattie Hastings is a wonderfully refreshing change to read a romantic novel that is not based on dark secrets and miscommunications. There are no dark, handsome and mysterious heroes. The women are not young, beautiful, virginal and naïve. These are real people with real problems and real joys. Even Gary, the ghost, retains his life-of-the party personality as he appears to give Hattie comfort and advice.
Hattie is a wonderful character. She is still in love with Gary; she is worried about her aimless twenty year old son; she is concerned about her mother and her best friend, yet still finds happiness in her relationships. One of the most realistic aspects of Hattie’s behavior is her concern about her son, Johnny. While still a loving mother, she complains (internally) about his seeming inability to clean up after himself, to do a load of laundry, or to care about anything at all. This struck me as so true of many parents with aimless young adult children. Her concern for Cat is also a real concern for many women faced with the inexplicable actions of best friends. Hattie is a real, human character and the author is to be congratulated.
Watching the development of each character as each comes to terms with love and loss is satisfying. Johnny is not as hopeless as he seems; Rachel faces life with determination; Hattie’s care and sympathy pave the way for hope in despairing families.
The author manages to make Gary, the ghost, into a believable character as well. When he accepts his “mission”, he seems to really care that he can make things better for others.
One of the best qualities of the novel is the wry humor with which the author writes about the difficult subject of love and loss. Some of her asides will have readers giggling or even laughing out loud. Marty’s toy, “Grump”, is a case in point and made this reader laugh.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
Hattie seems to have no problem accepting the appearance of Gary. Though at first she is shocked and thinks she is losing her mind, she quickly comes to accept what is happening and treats Gary’s appearances as a normal part of life. This is important in moving the story along, but truly strains the readers’ ability to suspend disbelief. It was quite surprising that Hattie was able to come to terms with Gary’s appearances so quickly.
Another aspect of the novel that left me dissatisfied was Cat’s reaction to the reappearance of her ex-husband, Stewart. Cat had been portrayed as a strong, hard-working, independent woman. Why is she suddenly so susceptible to the facile charms of Stewart?
I generally do not like romance novels. They always seem to be based on completely unrealistic scenarios and characters. The Haunting of Hattie Hastings, however, is very different. Despite the supernatural ghost, the characters and the situations will be identifiable for readers. Telling a story of love, loss, and rebirth, the author mixes humor with sympathy to produce a book readers will love.