In today’s blog I want to touch on my horror novel ‘The Cornwall Ghost Story.’ This is my most recent completed work in the horror sphere although it has yet to be published. This blog is a lead on to my summary blog on this novel which can be found through the menu item My Books and the child menu The Cornwall Ghost Story. I am going to take a look at Esmeralda Avine who could very much be described as a tortured ghost. Once I have detailed her part in proceedings you will understand why.
Esmeralda was a young woman who lived in the early part of the nineteenth century. This was at the time of the Napoleonic wars between Britain and France. This historical perspective plays a leading role in what transpires throughout the storyline, at least the opening part of it.
In my summarising blog on the novel I described how a modern day family arrive in Cornwall at the start of the book. They are on a two-week summer vacation and will be staying at the cottage previously owned by Esmeralda and her husband George who was an officer in the British Navy.
When Esmeralda receives a letter from the Admiralty telling her darling George was lost at sea and that his body could not be recovered she is understandably heartbroken. She and George are a young couple who had only been married for about a year when he went missing.
Esmeralda was devoted to her husband. One might say she was too devoted, as she tended to live her life through him. He was her everything and without him by her side she was lost. In fact one might almost say the capsizing of her husband’s ship had sent her own life spiralling out of control, submerging her in the utter helplessness of her situation.
Whenever George set of for an expedition with the Navy, Esmeralda was left on her own for a protracted period. She would find it hard to occupy her time. She had no friends or relatives nearby to soothe the loss of her husband while he was away on the seven seas. When the couple were apart she would fill her head with gloomy thoughts, pining for the moment when her husband would be returned to her.
So, when the hammer fell and she received news that George was gone from her life, possibly never to return, one can imagine how devastated she would have been. Her life, at that moment, came crumbling down all around her and she could see no safety raft which could transport her to a safe shore.
After some time spent pining away in her cottage, Esmeralda took the decision to visit her relatives. She had a sister who went by the name of Jane who lived a considerable distance away. She had always enjoyed a close relationship with Jane who was married with two children. She felt sure she could derive at least a modicum of comfort by being surrounded by family at this dark time.
I’d like to quote here from an exchange of dialogue between Esmeralda and Jane which takes place in Jane’s drawing room. It highlights the difficulties Esmeralda is going through at this most trying of times:
“You must continue to hope, Esmie,” Jane told her. “That is what you must hold on to at this time.”
Esmeralda sighed. She glanced up at her sister and tried to smile for her, but the expression carried little weight. “Of course you are right, my dear,” she replied. “George would expect nothing else from me. He would not like me to give up. But with each day that passes by I grow weary at the prospect which lies in front of me.”
“You must bear up, girl,” her sister told her. “You never know: George may survive his wreck. It has been heard of before. There have been many lost causes which have proved to be anything but, with the survivor returning homeward with scarcely a scratch as a reminder of his ordeal.”
“Yes,” agreed Esmeralda. “But they are stories from afar, strangers who have no bearing on my own situation. They do not touch me because they have no connection with me or all that I am going through. Dear Jane: I know you are trying to help, but I think it best if you let me deal with this situation in my own way.”
“Very well, my dear. Only know that we are here for you when you need to talk. We wish merely to lighten the load you are carrying.”
“I know it and I am grateful. Be assured that being amongst you all brings me a great degree of comfort. I fear if I had remained in the cottage by myself another day I would have lost my mind.”
“I can imagine,” said Jane. “It must have been a hard cross to bear when you had enjoyed so many good times there with your darling George.”
“Yes, very much so.” Esmeralda sat back in her chair and seemed to reflect on the times she had spent with her love.
This scene, then, bears out Esmeralda’s sense of loss and her desperate hope that her husband can still be returned to her. But as time goes on this proves to be nothing more than a forlorn hope.
As I worked on this early part of ‘The Cornwall Ghost Story’ I became more and more deeply affected by Esmeralda’s plight. I have to confess I became quite emotionally overcome at the trials she had to go through. It made me ponder over the women throughout time who have lost their true love and how much they must have gone through. In particular, I wondered how women married to naval officers could have born the separation. And, of course, there would always have been that fear hovering over them that they might one day receive news that their husband had either died in the course of his duties or that his body had never been found. This is a main premise of the entire novel and one I very much enjoyed writing.
Esmeralda proved herself to be a remarkable woman. With the help of her modern-day counterpart Fiona Noble she is slowly able to piece together what really became of her husband. Fiona experiences visions of George to assist in this, but the results of these findings will provide no lasting peace to Esmeralda. They will hint only at what might have been, which is one of the most human of regrets and one which is hard to accept.