Family Ghosts, by Sarah Quick, reviewed by Helen Blow, courtesy of the Gloucestershire
Sarah Quick, Family Ghosts, Shipway Publications, ISBN 978-0-9566708-0-9, £10.99,
Author Sarah Quick has drawn on her family’s long Gloucestershire history as the
basis for her debut novel.
Family Ghosts is the result of six years of research and writing for Sarah, whose
ancestors have lived in Amberley, near Stroud, for more than a century.
She describes the novel as a geographical ghost story, moving from the prehistoric
wildness of Cornwall to the beauty of Amberley Common both in 1984 and the present
Family Ghosts also deals with genealogy, which is one of Sarah’s main interests alongside
Indeed it was when she started researching her family history that she got the idea
for the novel which, although fictional, has been inspired by what she found out
about her own descendents.
Always a keen writer, Sarah loved creative writing at school in Cirencester and Suffolk,
later studying for an English degree at university.
She moved to London to work as a book seller, before going into publishing and finally
returning to Cheltenham 14 years ago to be near her family.
“Writing has always been something I have loved and my grandmother from Amberley
really wanted me to be a writer,” said Sarah, 43, who lives in Cheltenham.
“She used to attend the Cheltenham Literature Festival and I have followed in her
footsteps, attending workshops and events.
“It was my interest in family history that started me off on the book after finding
artefacts of my Amberley family at the Museum in the Park in Stroud.
“The Shipway family – my maternal line – has lived in Amberley for 130 years and
I found out a lot about them, together with a cousin who was also doing research.
“During a character workshop at the festival I wrote a piece about Hepsie Anderson,
who is one of the main characters in my book, and that set off my writing.
“It started off as a novella and after some positive comments about it, I decided
to turn it into a novel.”
Family Ghosts follows several generations of a family and their obsession with their
history, directly or indirectly.
Sarah brings her characters to life with humour and feeling, and she takes pleasure
in painting her settings with the eye of an artist.
She takes inspiration from her favourite authors, which include Tracy Chevalier,
Beryl Bainbridge, PD James and South American writers of magical realism, including
Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
“I also like the work of scriptwriters such as Dr Who writer Russell T Davies,” she
said. “And I remember with fondness the authors of the children’s classics I read
as a child, such as Noel Streatfield and E Nesbit.”
Sarah is now working on her second novel, a mystery romance, which she is currently
“I have had some really positive comments about Family Ghosts so I hope that writing
will be my future,” she said. “It is something I am very happy to continue to do.”