The Margaret-ghost: A Novel

Front Cover
George Braziller, 2003 - Fiction - 190 pages
0 Reviews
This fascinating novel by Barbara Novak blends painstaking scholarship and compelling fiction writing as it follows the lives of two women, one the subject of the other's research. Tenure-track professor Angelica Bookbinder is researching a book on the woman Henry James called "the Margaret-Ghost": the brilliant, New England feminist Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), who was a friend and contemporary to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Horace Greeley, among other nineteenth-century notable figures. Fascinated by Fuller's personal life as much as by her brilliance, Angelica focuses her research on the role that love played in Fuller's life, examining both her heterosexual and homosexual liaisons, while trying to understand her lifelong struggle to balance her intellectual strengths with her emotional needs. Driven by the belief that Fuller's life was dominated by a frustrated quest for love, Angelica passionately pursues her research, all the while aware that in doing so, she is straying from the academic straight and narrow. At the same time, Angelica finds her own romantic dilemmas beginning to echo Fuller's. Moving between nineteenth- and twentieth-century Boston, Angelica follows her research with an almost carnal obsession, bouncing between the advances of a female colleague and a burgeoning relationship with a fellow tenure-track professor. Her new lover, a Harvard scholar studying Herman Melville, appreciates Angelica's intellect--when it does not challenge his--but seems to prefer the body of someone Angelica contemptuously calls "the Baywatch girl." Juxtaposing nineteenth-century high culture and contemporary pop references with often-hilarious results, Novak probes thenature of male-female relationships, questioning if certain patterns transcend time. Satirical, erudite, and beautifully written, The Margaret-Ghost investigates relationships, academia, love, and research, creating a captivating parallel across generations between the passionate Margaret Fuller and her equally passionate researcher.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

From eminent art historian and second-novelist Novak (Alice's Neck, 1987), a wry little slip of a tale about a professor trying for tenure by writing a book about 19th-century intellectual and ... Read full review

The Margaret-ghost: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In respected art historian Novak's second novel (after Alice's Neck), Angelica Bookbinder is a thirtysomething Boston literature professor on sabbatical who hopes to win tenure by writing a book about ... Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

22 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

After shedding her past as a farmer's daughter and a librarian from New England, Barbara Novak worked her way up from the secretarial pool of a publishing house and ultimately became the President, CEO, Publisher, and Cofounder of one of the largest media companies in the world. Her first best-seller, a feminist call-to-arms entitled Down with Love, helped change the face of the working world for women all around the globe. She currently lives in New York City with her husband.

Bibliographic information