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It’s the Jazz Age, it’s Prohibition and aviator Charles Lindbergh is the most famous person in America. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald rents a mansion in Edgemoor, Delaware called Ellerslie hoping for a quiet retreat so that he can write his next novel following The Great Gatsby.
April Ross, the first and only female history major at the University of Delaware, is commissioned by the owner of Ellerslie to research the estate’s history for a potential sale. At least, that’s what April is told. In the days ahead, April’s historical research uncovers Ellerslie’s former owners dating back to 1810. She interacts with the Fitzgeralds, yet endures unexplained occurrences and visits by an unknown woman. Against her better judgement, April eventually accepts that the woman is a ghost and realizes that her true purpose is to find out who this woman is, or was, and what happened to her in real life.
This was an enjoyable story even without the enhancement of F. Scott Fitzgerald. What the addition of Fitzgerald , his wife and their friends and the Ellerslie setting did for me was to make it a good story with a lot of history. Francis gave a good picture of the times and of the way the Fitzgeralds and their friends lived. The way life was for the classes, the rich and the poor. I kept running to my computer to see how closely this historical fiction story followed F Scott Fitzgerald. In answer to that, I’m going to say that I thought William Francis took enough fictional “license” to make this an interesting read with a little bit of paranormal running all the way through. I never felt it was scary. I always seemed to feel at home with the Ellerslie ghost. A very unusual situation for me since I am such a black and white thinker. Somehow it all fit together to make a story that you won’t want to put down.
William Francis has many books published. Most all are of the historical fiction genre and all have good reviews.
“I signed a two-year lease,” Scott said. “And I came here to get away from the noise of New York so that I could write. I also came here because I have a fascination with medieval Europe and feudalism. I wanted to study the DuPonts and their quasi-feudalism over this area and create a novel loosely based on them. Unfortunately, every time I sit down to write it nothing happens. I think my problem is that I always want to write something that’s never been written before, something unique and extraordinary rather than another rehashing of a familiar plot.”
“If the DuPont idea isn’t working, then stop trying to force it and write something else.”
“You sound like my editor, Max Perkins. He’s pretty upset with me right now. I promised him a novel by July first. That’s not going to happen.”
“Well, as they say, get crackin’. And don’t worry about your lease. I’m sure Mr. Sellers will let you break it when you tell him that Ellerslie is haunted.”
“Haunted?” Scott said with an uneasy laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“It’s not ridiculous. Mr. Sellers knows it. The maids know it. Phillipe knows it. My real purpose here is to discover the identity of a crying female ghost."
Scott moaned. “Well, then. I guess Elena spilled the beans.”
“She did not. Marie did, but I would’ve figured it out. This female manifestation has been reaching out to me, giving me clues meant to help my investigation. Of course, if she could speak it would go a lot faster, but in life she was strangled and possibly crushed her throat. I guess this makes her spirit unable to speak. I don’t know. I’m no expert on ghosts. Have you seen her?”
“Yes, I was drunk and in the kitchen the first time, about two weeks after we moved in. I knew who she was by Mr. Sellers’ description. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it.”
“Do you know anything about her?”
“Not much. Apparently, she’s been on the estate for many years. Mr. Sellers said his father knew about her and called her the ‘melancholy lady.’ Servants recalled hearing the old gentleman talk to somebody late at night, usually in the library, and when they entered the room he was the only one there. Then shortly before his death he told his son about her, said she cried all the time and he couldn’t figure out why. Mr. Sellers Junior dismissed it as the rantings of an old man. Then one tenant after another kept telling stories about a ghost or unexplained acts of violence. Junior didn’t believe them until he saw the lady for himself.”
“So Mr. Sellers told you about the lady ghost before you moved in but you signed the lease anyway?” “Yes. Zelda and I thought it might be exciting to live in a haunted house.”
About the Author: Raised in Newark, Delaware, William spends his days working in Corporate America and writing about the First State. He achieved a Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, but also writes non-fiction. Through Arcadia Publishing he has produced 5 books related to Delaware: The DuPont Highway, Along the Kirkwood Highway, Along the Christina River, Building Interstate in 95 in Delaware and Newark Then & Now. Fiction titles include: A Life Told to None, The Umpire, Seacrest, and the five-star The Katie Dugan Case. Whether his books are fact or fiction, William hopes to entertain as well as inform and leave the reader with a satisfying experience.