The Widow of Rose House

by Diana Biller

4.5 stars actually.

The media copy calls this tale of a haunted house, an abused woman, and a handsome inventor “effervescent”, and it truly is. Not just because of the gilded age, and the carriages, houses, and dresses.

At one point deep within the story, Sam Moore (aforementioned famous inventor who is apparently a Viking masquerading as an absent-minded professor, ink stains, muscles and all) reflects that his warm family, intelligence, and upper middle class life has instilled within him a sense that everything will work out in the end. That’s the feeling that permeates this story, despite the gothic house full of rumors and squirrel nests, and the haunted background of heroine Alva herself.

Alva has just returned home to New York from France after the death of her husband left her with freedom and money for the first time. Followed by vicious rumors of scandalous behavior, Alva is fiercely determined to make something of herself despite everyone. She buys Liefdehuis, an abandoned mansion, with the intent of remaking it as part of a book publishing project about interior design.

Only one problem. The entire work crew quits in the first week citing multiple “hauntings.” Just Alva’s luck that she bumps into Sam Moore, famous inventor and scientist, who desperately wants to study Liefdehuis as he does any scientific problem.

Will Alva’s husband haunt her from beyond the grave? Can Sam convince Alva of her own worth? This is a lovely, escapist read with a bit of steam once Sam wears Alva down with his humor and adorable absent-minded professorness. Mostly its a tale of toing-and-froing across New York in carriages and listening to servants babble and the Moore family be ridiculously affectionate in the midst of experiments blowing up, and Sam and Alva learning to love each other. Without the bit of gloomy ghost parts, its almost…homely and pleasant in the mundane portrayal of affectionate life in the upper/middle class, like sitting beside a roaring fire with a steaming cup of tea and a cookie.