A Review of Billie’s Ghost by Chad Hautmann

Chad Hautmann has chosen a difficult subject for this book. A story of the pain and heartache at the loss of someone we love and the long road back to life among the living. He does this with gut-wrenching descriptions of the various emotions this loss causes. He will surely strike a chord of empathy with a reader who has known this loss and found the will to go on alone.
Reviewed by Pat Hayworth

Billie’s Ghost
by Chad Hautmann
ISBN 0-9673667-6-3 Trade Paperback $12.99
ISBN 0-9672667-7-1 Hardcover $21.99

Chad Hautmann has chosen a difficult subject for this book. A story of the pain and heartache at the loss of someone we love and the long road back to life among the living. He does this with gut-wrenching descriptions of the various emotions this loss causes. He will surely strike a chord of empathy with a reader who has known this loss and found the will to go on alone.

Casey Cooper,the main character of the story, is wallowing in grief at the sudden death of his wife. Although her death is an accident he is wracked with feelings of guilt thinking that he somehow failed her. He tries to keep her memory alive by sitting alone night after night listening to their favorite jazz records. One artist(their particular favorite)Billie Holiday,he plays over and over. Isolating himself from family and friends he drinks himself into oblivion each night trying to overcome his pain and hide from what has happened in his life. Lack of sleep,proper food and over-drinking take a toll and he keeps spiralling down into a pit of deep depression.

A visitor suddenly appears at the house supposedly looking for a room to rent. She is a jazz singer who just happens to look and sing like Billie Holliday. She tells him she must have come to the wrong house but they talk and have a few drinks and he realizes how much he likes her company. He has cut himself off from all his friends and decides to ask her to stay in his extra room. As a roomate she comes and goes as she pleases and keeps Casey guessing about what she’ll do next.

Leonora, or Billie, as he thinks of her, jolts him out of his self-imposed loneliness. She sings jazz to him, befriends him and slowly coaxes him to see that there is still hope and love in the world around him. The death of an old friend almost pushes him over the edge to self-destuction but Billie makes him see he must let go of the past and live a full life.

Is this a story of love and redemption? It certainly is that. Is it a ghost story? This is left for the reader to decide. This reviewer chooses to think – no. I believe Billie’s ghost was a fantasy dreamed up to relieve the pain and save Casey from the self-destruction he was headed for. But then again each reader comes away from a book with different views and that’s what makes the written word so powerful.

Billie’s Ghost will be available for sale from October, 2002 and can be bought at any bookstore or from http://www.vanmeterpublishing.com

About the Reviewer: Pat Hayworth lives in Coleridge,NC. She is an avid reader and enjoys writing,painting, and working in her garden. E-mail address: pathayworth@rtmc.net

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