The Full Wiki

The Ghost (novel): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ghost  
Ghost cover scan .jpg
Cover of the first US edition
Author Robert Harris
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Thriller novel
Publisher Hutchinson
Publication date 26 September 2007
Media type Print (Hardback)(First edition) - Trade Paperback (Second edition)
Pages 384 pp (first edition, hardback)- 310pp (second edition, paperback)
ISBN ISBN 978-0091796266 (first edition, hardback)- ISBN 978-0-091-79625-9 (second edition, paperback)
OCLC Number 440621345
LC Classification PR6058.A69147 G48 2007c

The Ghost is a contemporary political thriller by the best-selling English novelist and journalist Robert Harris.

In 2007 British prime minister Tony Blair resigned. Harris, a former Fleet Street political editor, dropped his other work to write the book. The ghost of the title refers both to a professional ghost-writer, whose lengthy memorandum forms the novel, and to his immediate predecessor who, as the action opens, has just drowned in gruesome and mysterious circumstances.

The dead man has been ghosting the autobiography of a recently unseated British prime minister. The latter is one Adam Lang, a thinly-disguised version of Blair.[1] The fictional counterpart of Cherie Blair is depicted as a sinister manipulator of her husband. So astonishing are the implied allegations of the roman à clef that, had it concerned a lesser figure and were Harris a less eminent novelist, Britain's libel laws may have rendered publication impossible: Harris told The Guardian before publication, "The day this appears a writ might come through the door. But I would doubt it, knowing him."[2] The thriller acquires an added frisson from the fact that Harris was an early and enthusiastic backer of Blair and a donor to New Labour funds.[3]

The New York Observer, headlining its otherwise hostile review The Blair Snitch Project, commented that the book’s "shock-horror revelation" was "so shocking it simply can’t be true, though if it were it would certainly explain pretty much everything about the recent history of Great Britain."[3]


Plot summary

The greater part of the action is on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, where Lang has been holed up in the holiday home of his billionaire American publisher in order to turn out his memoirs to a deadline. Other scenes are set in Notting Hill, New York and Whitehall.

Lang's former press aide Mike McAra has been struggling to ghost his master's memoirs but, as the novel opens, McAra drowns when he apparently falls off the Woods Hole ferry. The fictional author of The Ghost, whose name is never revealed, is hired to replace him. (His girlfriend walks out on him over his willingness to take the job: "She felt personally betrayed by him; she used to be a party member.") He soon suspects foul play and stumbles across evidence of possible motive, buried in Lang's Oxbridge past. Having located what may be the lethal secret, the replacement ghostwriter begins to fear for his own safety.

Meanwhile Lang, like his real-life counterpart, has been accused by his enemies of war crimes. A leaked memorandum has revealed that he secretly approved the transfer of UK citizens to Guantanamo Bay to face interrogation and possible torture. One Richard Rycart, Lang's disillusioned and renegade former foreign secretary is loosely based on the late Robin Cook, who before and during his early days in office made much of his wish to adopt an "ethical" foreign policy. Now at the UN, Rycart is in a position to do his former boss serious damage. Unlike Blair, Lang thus appears in imminent threat of indictment at the International Criminal Court.

The narrator tussles to reconcile his obligation to complete the ghosting job with its attendant abundant payment on the one hand and, on the other, the pressing need, as he sees it, to reveal Lang's true allegiances. The action really heats up when he contacts Rycart. The narrator comes under increasing jeopardy: romantically, politically, as well as physically.

Lang and Blair

Harris said in a US National Public Radio interview that politicians like Lang and Blair, particularly when they've been in office a long time, become divorced from everyday reality, read little and end up with a pretty limited overall outlook. When it comes to writing their memoirs, they therefore tend to have all the more need of a ghostwriter. Harris hinted at a third, far less obvious, allusion hidden in the novel's title, and, more significantly, at a possible motive for having written the book in the first place. Blair, he said, had himself been ghostwriter, in effect, to President Bush when giving public reasons for invading Iraq: he had argued the case better than had the President himself.[4]

The novel is dedicated to Gill, Robert Harris's wife.

Film adaptation

In November 2007 it was announced that Roman Polanski was to direct the film version of the novel. He and Harris would be writing the script. [5] The cast was at first to consist of Nicolas Cage as the ghost, Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang, with Tilda Swinton as Ruth Lang and Kim Catrall as Lang's assistant Amelia Bly. Filming was delayed and two of the four leads were recast. A year later it was announced that Ewan McGregor would now play the ghost and Olivia Williams would take over the role of Ruth Lang, with Brosnan and Cattrall remaining. The movie would be completed by autumn 2009, it was hoped, and released soon after. It is being co-produced by the Babelsberg Studios near Berlin.[6] Harris was quoted as saying, “I want to be sure it’s out before Tony Blair’s own memoirs are published.” [7]

Polanski was arrested by Swiss police in September 2009 on his way to the Zurich Film Festival. Babelsberg Studios initially announced that production has been put on hold. However, Polanski continued working on post-production from his house arrest in Switzerland. The film, retitled The Ghost Writer, was scheduled to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on February 12, 2010.[8]


External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address