Friday, May 27, 2005

Ghosting: A Double Life by Jennie Erdal

Jennie Erdal did not intend to become a ghost writer. She was a young mother with three small children who had published an English translation of letters by the late Russian artist Joseph Pasternak. She met Tiger (not his real name), a Palestinian book publisher, when he asked her to help him buy Pasternak painting from the artist’s sisters. When she first saw Tiger, he was wearing a bold striped suit with a fancy lapel pin and a silk tie. She had no inkling of how this flamboyant man would dominate the next twenty years of her life.

Ghosting: A Double Life tells the story of a young woman who is offered a job in the world of publishing that she can do from her home in Scotland. It begins with editing translations of works by Russian authors and evolves into editing Tiger’s interviews of famous women for a book in mid-1980s. The book is a bestseller and Tiger becomes a celebrity with an increase desire for public acclaim. He starts asking her to complete his magazine and newspaper articles, compose his more difficult letters, and eventually ghost his novels. He installs a direct telephone to her Scottish home, asks her to accompany him on trips to France, and requires her presence in London more frequently. As you might expect, Erdal becomes uncomfortable with her secret life and begins to question the morality of ghosting.

At no point in the book does Erdal reveal the name of her employer, for whom she expresses concern. Curious readers can find it in many British book reviews for Ghosting. Americans will not recognize the name, but they can still enjoy a good story.

Erdal, Jennie. Ghosting: A Double Life. New York: Doubleday, 2005 ISBN 0385514263


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