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Ammie, Come Home

Ammie, Come Home

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Ammie, Come Home

évaluations:
3.5/5 (17 évaluations)
Longueur:
279 pages
4 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 13, 2009
ISBN:
9780061840951
Format:
Livre

Description

It begins as a lark -- a harmless diversion initiated by Washington, D.C., hostess Ruth Bennett as a means of entertaining her visiting niece, Sara. But the séance conducted in Ruth's elegant Georgetown home calls something back; something unwelcome ... and palpably evil. Suddenly Sara is speaking in a voice not her own, transformed into a miserable, whimpering creature so unlike her normal, sensible self. No tricks or talismans will dispel the malevolence that now plagues the inhabitants of this haunted place -- until a dark history of treachery, lust, and violence is exposed. But the cost might well be the sanity and the lives of the living.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Oct 13, 2009
ISBN:
9780061840951
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Elizabeth Peters (writing as Barbara Michaels) was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Peters was named Grandmaster at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986, Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar® Awards in 1998, and given The Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic in 2003. She lives in an historic farmhouse in western Maryland.

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Ammie, Come Home - Barbara Michaels

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Chapter

1

BY FIVE O’CLOCK IT WAS ALMOST DARK, WHICH WAS not surprising, since the month was November; but Ruth kept glancing uneasily toward the windows at the far end of the room. It was a warm, handsome room, furnished in the style of a past century, with furniture whose present value would have astonished the original owners. Only the big overstuffed sofas, which faced one another before the fireplace, were relatively modern. Their ivory brocade upholstery fitted the blue-and-white color scheme, which had been based upon the delicate Wedgwood plaques set in the mantel. A cheerful fire burned on the hearth, sending sparks dancing from the crystal glasses on the coffee table and turning the sherry in the cut-glass decanter the color of melted copper. Since her niece had come to stay with her, Ruth had set out glasses and wine every evening. It was a pleasant ritual, which they both enjoyed even when it was followed by nothing more elegant than hamburgers. But tonight Sara was late.

The darkening windows blossomed yellow as the streetlights went on; and Ruth rose to draw the curtains. She lingered at the window, one hand absently stroking the pale blue satin. Sara’s class had been over at three thirty….

And, Ruth reminded herself sternly, Sara was twenty years old. When she agreed to board her niece while the girl attended the Foreign Service Institute at a local university, she had not guaranteed full-time baby-sitting. Sara, of course, considered herself an adult. However, to Ruth her niece still had the touching, terrifying illusion of personal invulnerability which is an unmistakable attribute of youth. And the streets of Washington—even of this ultrafashionable section—were not completely safe after dark.

Even at the dying time of year, with a bleak dusk lowering, the view from Ruth’s window retained some of the famous charm of Georgetown, a charm based on formal architecture and the awareness of age. Nowadays that antique grace was rather self-conscious; after decades of neglect, the eighteenth-century houses of the old town had become fashionable again, and now they had the sleek, smug look born of painstaking restoration and a lot of money.

The houses across the street had been built in the early 1800’s. The dignified Georgian facades, ornamented by well-proportioned dormers and handsome fanlights, abutted directly on the street, with little or no yard area in front. Behind them were the gardens for which the town was famous, hidden from passersby and walled off from the sight of near neighbors. Now only the tops of leafless trees could be seen.

The atmosphere was somewhat marred by the line of cars, parked bumper to bumper and, for the most part, illegally. Parking was one of Georgetown’s most acrimoniously debated problems, not unusual in a city which had grown like Topsy before the advent of the automobile. The vehicles that moved along the street had turned on their headlights, and Ruth peered nervously toward the corner, and the bus stop. Still no sign of Sara. Ruth muttered something mildly profane under her breath and then shook her head with a self-conscious smile. The mother-hen instinct was all the stronger for having been delayed.

II

Ruth was in her mid-forties. She had always been small, and still kept her trim figure, but since she refused to do things to her graying hair, or indulge in any of the other fads demanded of women by an age which makes such a fetish of youth, her more modish friends referred to her pityingly as well-preserved. She bought her clothes at the same elegant little Georgetown boutique which she had patronized for fifteen years, and wore precisely the same size she had worn at the first. The suit she was wearing was a new purchase: a soft tweedy mixture of pink and blue, with a shell-pink, high-necked sweater. As a businesswoman she clung to the tradition of suits, but as a feminine person she liked the pastels which set off her blue eyes and gilt hair, now fading pleasantly from gold to silver.

Standing at the tall window, she shivered despite the suit jacket. This part of the room was always too cold; even the heavy, lined drapes did not seem to keep out tendrils of chilly air, and the room was too long and narrow for the single fireplace halfway along its long wall. Ruth wondered idly how her ancestors had stood the cold in the days before central heating. They were tougher in the good old days, she thought—tougher in every way, less sentimental and more realistic. None of them would have stood jittering and biting their nails over a child who was a few minutes late. Of course, in those days a well-bred young woman wouldn’t be out at dusk without a chaperone.

As Ruth was about to abandon her vigil a car slowed. It hovered uncertainly for a few minutes and then darted, like the strange insect it resembled, into a narrow space by a fireplug. Ruth leaned forward, forgetting that she could be seen quite clearly in the lighted window so near the street. Since there was hardly any subject which interested her less than that of automobiles, she was unable to identify the make of this one, except that she thought it foreign.

The near door opened; and a tangle of arms and legs emerged and resolved itself into the tall figure of her niece. Ruth smiled, partly in relief and partly because the sight of Sara trying to get her long legs and miniskirts out of a very small car always amused her. Her smile broadened as she got a good look at Sara’s costume. Usually the girl was still in bed when Ruth left for work in the morning; Sara was a junior and had learned the fine art of arranging classes so that they did not interfere unduly with social activities or sleep; and every evening Ruth awaited her niece’s appearance with anticipation and mild alarm. Every new outfit seemed to her the absolute end, the extreme beyond which it would be impossible to go. And each time she found she was mistaken.

Sara had one arm filled with books. With the other hand she swept the long black hair out of her face in a gesture that had proved the biggest single irritant to her long-suffering but silent aunt. The hair was absolutely straight. Ruth had never caught Sara ironing it, but she suspected the worst. At least the hair covered the girl’s ears and throat and shoulders, serving some of the functions of the hat and scarf which Sara refused to wear; part of the time it also kept her nose and chin warm.

The flowing locks presumably compensated for the lack of covering on Sara’s lower extremities. This evening she was wearing the long black boots which had been her most recent acquisition, but there was a gap of some six inches between their tops and the bottom of Sara’s skirt. The gap was filled, but not covered, by black mesh stockings, which displayed a good deal of Sara between the half-inch meshes.

Sara’s present costume was especially amusing when Ruth recalled her first sight of the girl, that morning in early September. Sara had stepped out of the taxi wearing a neat linen suit, nylon stockings, alligator pumps, and—incredibly—a hat and gloves. Ruth hadn’t seen the suit or the hat or the gloves since. In retrospect Ruth couldn’t help feeling a bit flattered, not so much by Sara’s effort to be conventional for her—since she suspected that Sara’s mother had had a good deal to do with that—but by Sara’s assumption that she need not continue to be conventional.

Sara leaned down to address the driver through the window. The hair fell over her face again. Ruth forgot her twitching fingers in her curiosity. This was not one of her niece’s usual escorts. Sara was apparently inviting him to come in, for the car door opened and a man stepped into the street. He narrowly missed being annihilated by a Volkswagen which skidded by him, but he seemed to be accustomed to this, as, indeed, are most Washingtonians.

Ruth’s first impression was neutral. He was a big man, tall and broad-shouldered, but his most outstanding feature, visible even in the dimmish streetlight, was his hair. Its brilliant carroty red seemed untouched by gray. Yet Ruth knew he was not young; there was something about the way he stood and moved….

He turned, in a brusque, sudden movement, and stared at the house. Ruth dropped the drape and stepped back. The sudden lift and turn of his head had been as direct as a touch. And what a fool she was, to stand gaping out at the street like a gossipy suburban housewife—or a Victorian guardian, checking up on her ward. She was blushing—an endearing habit which even fifteen years in the civil service had not eliminated—when she went to open the door. She had been told that she looked charming when she blushed; the rosy color gave vivacity to her pallor and delicate bone structure. Therefore she was slightly annoyed when the eyes of the man who stood outside her door slid blankly over her and focused on something beyond.

Good God Almighty, he said.

Ruth’s first, neutral impression was succeeded by one of profound distaste.

She glanced over her shoulder.

I’m so glad you like it, she said frostily. Won’t you come in and have a better look? The wind is a bit chilly.

This is Professor MacDougal, Ruth, Sara said, with the familiar sweep of hand across brow. He was nice enough to drive me home. My aunt, Mrs. Bennett, Professor.

Putting his worst foot forward, as usual, said Professor MacDougal, displaying a set of predatory looking teeth. His attention was now fully upon her, and Ruth wasn’t sure she liked it. He was much bigger than she had realized—well over six feet and bulkily, thickly built. His national ancestry was written across his face, but it was not the Irish stereotype, which is more caricature than actuality; it was the sort of face one sees in old Irish portraits, combining dreamer and soldier. The hair was not pure red after all. It had plenty of gray, iron-colored rather than silver. The skin of his cheeks and chin was just beginning to loosen. He must be fifty, Ruth thought, but he does have rather a nice smile….

I’m sorry, Mrs. Bennett, he went on. That was a hell of a way to address a strange lady, wasn’t it? Particularly when you have just returned the lady’s young niece. But I like good architecture, and that’s a remarkable staircase. Smaller than the one at Octagon House, but equally fine.

Come in, Ruth said.

I am in. Want me to go back out and start all over?

For a moment Ruth gaped at him, feeling as if she were on a boat in bad weather, with the deck slipping out from under her feet. Then something came to her rescue—for days she mistakenly identified it as her sense of humor. She said smilingly, Never mind, the damage is done. What on earth do you teach, Professor?

Anthropology.

Of course.

Of course, he repeated gravely. The abrupt, uncivilized manners, the profane speech, the weatherbeaten look….

Not at all, Ruth said, trying to keep some grasp of the conversation. Sara has mentioned you often. She enjoys your course so much. It was good of you to bring her home.

She stayed to help me sort some papers. But it wasn’t out of my way. I had nothing in particular to do this evening.

Then you must have a glass of sherry—or something else, if you’d rather—before you go back out into that wind.

He accepted sherry, somewhat to Ruth’s surprise; it seemed an inadequate beverage for someone so boisterously masculine, and a beer stein was more suited to his big hand than the fragile, fine-stemmed glass. He sat down on the sofa and relaxed, with a sigh which was an unconscious tribute to the restful charm of the room.

"Nice. Very nice…. The hanging stair is the pièce de résistance, though. Was the designer old Thornton himself?"

The man who did the Capitol? So tradition says, but it can’t be proved.

In my salad days—about four wars back—I thought I wanted to be an architect. I took the Georgetown House tour, along with the social climbers and the gushing old ladies, but I never saw this house. I’d have remembered the stairs.

Oh, then you’re a native? They are rare in Washington, and rarer in Georgetown.

I don’t live here anymore, he said briefly.

But you may recall why this house wasn’t on display. The previous owner was an eccentric old lady, a genuine Georgetown personality. She used to say she didn’t want the vulgar rabble tracking dust on her rugs and gaping at her possessions.

That’s right, I remember now—though I never heard her reasons expressed quite so forcibly and unflatteringly. Am I right in assuming that you bought the house furnished? You couldn’t have collected this furniture and all the bric-a-brac, in your short lifetime.

Your general assumption is correct, Ruth said, ignoring the blatant attempt at flattery. But I didn’t buy the house. Old Miss Campbell was my second cousin. She left it to me.

I didn’t know she had any living relatives. It’s beginning to come back to me now—wasn’t she the last of the descendants of the original builder?

Yes, she was. This is one of the few houses which has never been restored because it was never neglected; much of the furniture has stood in its present location for a hundred and fifty years. I’m a member of a collateral line. Actually, Miss Campbell’s father disowned my grandmother, about a thousand years ago.

How did you ever captivate the old lady? MacDougal ran one finger along the scalloped rim of the table beside him. He had big, brown hands with thick fingers, but his touch was as delicate as a musician’s.

Darned if I know. When I came to Washington years ago I called on her, just as a matter of courtesy. I wasn’t even interested in the house, as I was going through my Swedish modern phase at the time. But I knew that all her near relatives were dead, and I thought the poor old soul might be lonely. I couldn’t have been more wrong! She had a tongue like an adder, and she employed it freely, believe me. If I hadn’t been so well brought up I’d have walked out after the first five minutes. But I did adore the house; it was the first time I’d ever seen a place like this. Even now my interest is completely uneducated; I don’t have time to study architecture or antiques, I just enjoy them. I was absolutely astounded last year, when Cousin Hattie’s lawyer wrote to tell me that she had left the house to me.

Maybe you were the only relative she knew personally. And she probably had a strong sense of family, like so many of these vinegary old virgins.

I suppose so. I always felt guilty, because I didn’t even know she had died. Her lawyer said she insisted on a private funeral, but if I had only read the newspapers….

People our age haven’t yet taken to studying the obituaries, MacDougal said dryly. Why should you feel guilty? She wanted it that way. She isn’t going to haunt you. Or does she?

Does who do what? asked Sara, coming in with a tray. Ruth blinked, and managed to keep her face straight. Professor MacDougal was getting what she and Sara, in their sillier moments, referred to as the full treatment—smoked oysters, nuts (without peanuts), and hot cheese puffs (frozen).

Does old Miss Campbell haunt your aunt. Thanks, Sara, that looks good. MacDougal helped himself liberally to oysters; and cast a disparaging eye over Sara’s costume. But I must say that, while I am generally in favor of the clothes you girls are wearing of late, in this room you look as incongruous as a headhunter in Versailles.

I share your aesthetic reaction, Ruth said with a smile. But I can’t picture Sara in ruffles and crinolines.

People just aren’t impressed by this sort of thing any more, Sara said scornfully. In fact it’s terrible—sherry, antiques and all that junk—while only a few blocks away…

That sort of contrast is the most banal cliché of them all, MacDougal said; and to Ruth’s surprise Sara took the reprimand meekly.

Yes, sir. But a cliché isn’t necessarily untrue, is it?

No, dear, and I’d like to have everybody happy and equal too. In the meantime, I’m just going to go on wallowing in my sinful bourgeois pleasures, such as sherry and antiques. Aren’t you at all susceptible to the charm of this place? It’s your family too, isn’t it?

I suppose so, Sara said indifferently. My mother is Ruth’s sister, so that makes me Cousin Hattie’s—what? Fourteenth cousin once removed? See how silly it sounds? Why should I have any more feeling for Cousin Hattie than I do for Hairy Joe, who plays a great guitar down at Dupont Circle?

All men are brothers, said MacDougal sweetly.

Yes, damn it!

Sara— Ruth began.

That’s okay, MacDougal said calmly. I shouldn’t bait the girl. I can’t help it, though. I get a sadistic thrill out of poking the right buttons and seeing them jump. They equate squalor and soulfulness; but, as a matter of fact, Joe plays lousy guitar.

Oh, I’m not defending the Flower Children, Sara said, in a worldly voice. Some of them are pretty silly. But at least they’re thinking about the important problems, even if what they think is wrong. Whereas the Georgetown mentality—I’ll tell you what typifies it for me. The story about the governess who used to make her charges blow out their candles at ten o’clock sharp, and then, after she died, all the lights in her former room would go out at that hour, by themselves. Empty traditions, pointless sentimentality—

You did read a book about Georgetown, I see, Ruth said, refilling glasses.

The one and only. Honest to God, it turned my stomach! So much sweetness and light, and such big fat lies.

Come now, MacDougal said, grinning.

You know what I mean. According to that book all the gentlemen and ladies of Old Georgetown were kind, noble philanthropists. Just look at their pictures! Tight-lipped, hawk-nosed, grim old holy terrors! Never a mention of scandal, crime, disgrace—why, you know that in two hundred years this town must have seen a lot of violence. But the books never mention it—dear me, no!

One of the things I hate about the younger generation, said MacDougal sadly, is its bitter cynicism.

I expect you see a good deal of it, don’t you? Ruth said.

God, yes; they depress me utterly. You wouldn’t consider cheering me after a hard day of late adolescents by having dinner with me, I suppose?

We’d love to, Sara said enthusiastically.

Not you, MacDougal told her. Just your aunt. You’re old enough to scramble an egg for yourself. He added parenthetically, You have to be blunt with them, they don’t understand subtlety.

Ruth studied the topaz shimmer of the wine in her glass. She had only had three small glasses of sherry, not nearly enough to account for the pleasant glow that warmed her. And, after all, he was a professor—such a respectable occupation, she mocked herself silently.

Thank you, she said aloud, keeping it deliberately formal. I’d enjoy that. But I’ve got to be in early.

She knew (and how odd that she should know) that this last qualification would amuse him. It did; his mouth quirked and his eyebrows went up. Sara’s reaction was worse. After the first start of surprise she beamed at Ruth like a fond mother sending a daughter out on her first date.

III

They dined at a French restaurant in Georgetown, not far from the house. The decor was self-consciously and expensively provincial, with brass warming pans festooning the walls, two giant fireplaces, and capped and aproned waitresses. The gloom was almost impenetrable. According to MacDougal this was an unsuccessful attempt to conceal the inadequacy of the cooking.

I’m no gourmet, he explained, eating with calm satisfaction. I know enough to know when cooking is bad, but I don’t really care. But I’m sorry, for your sake, that I made a poor choice. I don’t know my way around town too well.

I suppose you’re gone a great deal, Ruth said, abandoning the onion soup as a lost cause. And Washington does change a lot, in a short space of time.

"True, to both. I spent last year in Africa, just got back this fall. Maybe that’s why I can’t afford to be critical about cooking. Compared to what I ate for ten months, this is cordon bleu quality."

What do you do in Africa? Ruth studied, in some dismay, the omelette which had been placed before her—her usual order when she wasn’t sure

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3.7
17 évaluations / 14 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (5/5)
    I wish there were more stars to give this book. I have read this book at least 15 times since I discovered it in 1970. The library gave it to me when they took the paperback off their shelf mainly because it was falling apart. Anyone that loves a good ghost story, a good romance and historical fiction will also love this book.
  • (2/5)
    Suspenseful ghost story, a very easy read.
  • (4/5)
    Where to start? I've been hearing my mom rave about how much she loved this book for ever, which in the way of such things between mothers and daughter sometimes, had the perverse effect of making me disinclined to read it. This is spite of my enjoyment of ghost stories and Barbara Michaels' other work. (N.B. I love my mom, just stupid vestiges of teenage stubbornness I suppose.) When I first cracked it open I got up to chapter 3 and nothing much had happened; a bad dream, a bit of foreshadowing. This was somehow worse; I knew it was going to get creepy, it was going to happen any page now... But all the (necessary) setup made it easy to put the book down until the next day. I was right; everything starts hitting the fan soon into chapter 4 - and that's where the trouble started for me, because this is a buddy read, and I should be pacing myself, reading small sections to savour and discuss with friends, and I can't put the book down, I have to find out what happens next!! Hot tea was brewed in vain, only to go cold and neglected; by chapter 6 I was firmly of two minds about this book - it was creeptastically gripping and unbelievably condescending and dated in its tone. As others have noted, Patrick was ...unlikeable. Add to this his behaviour in at least one scene and way too much vagueness pertaining to Ruth's past and I was... unimpressed with our protagonists. Bruce was mostly a pompous git, and Sara was rather vanilla. So while I as still enjoying the story it could go either way for me at this point. I pried myself off the book at the end of chapter 7 and swore I'd not go near it again for at least 24 hours. I think I made it the 24 hours and I'd like to say I was able to only read a bit more the next day, but that would be crap - I grudgingly went through my to-do list and then sat down with this book and wild horses were not going to part me from it until I finished. I had to know how it ended. Oh, Barbara Michaels, you crafty, crafty lady. I see what you did there. You never did explain Ruth's past clearly, but you did explain Patrick's behaviour ever so neatly; I didn't have much justification beyond his name for disliking him after that. I especially liked how you sneaked a bit of sophisticated theology in too when you thought nobody would notice. Clever, and it added a tiny bit of heft to the story without beating the reader over the head. Nice. There's no way anyone who has ever read any ghost story couldn't divine at least some of the ending, but I'll admit my sub-conscious predictions fell short: it was more complex than I had foreseen, which of course made it all the better. As to what finally felled the evil, well, that showed a complexity of theological belief that I don't see much in my spooky reads and I respect Michaels all the more because of it. All in all an excellent ghost story and one I wouldn't want to read - or re-read - after dark; I'm fairly certain it would scare the bejeezus out of me. I jest, but the worst part of the book is probably the part where I have to call mom and say: you were right! ;-)
  • (2/5)
    I've read most of Elizabeth Peter's "Amelia Peabody" series and loved them all, so I thought I'd give her books written as Barbara Michaels a try. I was very disappointed, mainly because of her attitude toward women. I was a little shocked early on when Ruth's niece (Sara) began exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, and it was suggested that maybe she needed a gynecologist, and there was more to come. Bruce, Sara's boyfriend and someone Ruth comes to respect and admire says this about women:
    "I mean, there are women you seduce and women you rape, and the women you—”
    Really?
    I can't get past the attitudes enough to like the book. I guess it was an OK ghost story.
  • (4/5)
    Love this ghost story! It sent chills down my spine!
  • (2/5)
    I've read most of Elizabeth Peter's "Amelia Peabody" series and loved them all, so I thought I'd give her books written as Barbara Michaels a try. I was very disappointed, mainly because of her attitude toward women. I was a little shocked early on when Ruth's niece (Sara) began exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, and it was suggested that maybe she needed a gynecologist, and there was more to come. Bruce, Sara's boyfriend and someone Ruth comes to respect and admire says this about women:"I mean, there are women you seduce and women you rape, and the women you—” Really?I can't get past the attitudes enough to like the book. I guess it was an OK ghost story.
  • (5/5)
    This haunting book is nearly perfectly written. Foreshadowing, likeable characters, real romance, detective work (pre-Google research!), and the ghost story kept my attention. The Kindle version kept seducing me into reading "just one more chapter because it is only 11 minutes" until I suddenly had to scramble to get ready for work. But the book was finished, so all was well in my world.And yes, I ordered the next two books in the trilogy.
  • (3/5)
    Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels is the first of the Georgetown gothic mysteries by Barbara Michaels. I read it after reading the last in the series, Stitches in Time first (not realizing it was part of a trilogy).It's the close of the 1960s and Ruth, a 40s something widow is having her niece, Sara, over to stay. Things begin to go awry when she is dropped off by her college professor — a man clearly going through a midlife crises — as seen through his choice of dress and his cute little sports car.Sara begins having trouble sleeping, thinking she's hearing a neighbor call for a missing bet named Sammie. But soon it's apparent that it can't be a missing pet. It has to be something more sinister. Perhaps the house is haunted? Or maybe it's all one big prank?The haunting is an excuse to drag out gender roles and gender politics — hot topics for Barbara Michaels / Elizabeth Peters early works. Although she does still include explorations of gender roles, she was tempered them and hidden them better in her plots. The Georgetown trilogy seems the most rife with gender politics of any of her books or series and the politics get in the way of an otherwise interesting (albeit formulaic) haunted house story.As I was reading it, I had a nagging sense of deja vu, and not just from having read the last book in the series. I attributed the feeling to the fact I was also reading The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong as the ghosts Chloë keeps encountering seem to be hiding in all the same places as the ones in Ruth's home.But no, the post on the Gothic Romance Forum snapped it all into place for me. There was an ABC made for TV movie in 1970. I'm sure I watched it in reruns on my grandmother's cable. I went through a phase where I watched every single horror film I could find on cable (as this was before video rental stores or streaming media).
  • (3/5)
    Barbara Michaels' books are a guilty pleasure of mine. I love to read them when it is October, or raining in fall and spring. There is just something cozy about them that you can read under a blanket with a cup of tea. I own most of her books written as Michaels, and all are well worn and well-loved paperbacks.I did not have Ammie Come Home, so I borrowed it from the library. The copy I received was a dull gray, library bound without a cover picture. It was so old looking and the pages so soft. I think these tactile qualities helped transport me back to the time when this book was first published, in 1968.You could really tell that this book was written and published in the 60s. There were references to hippies, protests, stereotypical gender roles, miniskirts, and smoking. I think it was all the casual smoking that really struck me; Ruth is portrayed as a distinguished, demure woman in her 50s or so, and she was always lighting up. A cigarette here, a cigarette before bed, I am not sure why this seemed so odd to me but it did. I don’t think I have really read anything lately where the main character smokes. It just was out of character to me; I feel now smoking is used as a device to show a character is flawed, rebellious, or quirky, and Ruth was none of those things. Despite all this, I thought the fact that the book was from the perspective of a slightly older woman, and had an element of romance for her too, was pretty forward thinking.Like all good ghost stories, this one starts with a séance. I have an irrational fear of séances and Ouija boards, thanks to the Exorcist. Ammie Come Home was no different in that regard – a séance served as a doorway for the supernatural. And this story was pretty “spooktacular”. There were a few parts where I got the creepy crawlies from reading it even. There were all sorts of ghostly activity – apparitions, possession (which the book called shadowing), a creepy bodiless voice, and things falling over. Selling the house was out of the question. So what to do? Solve the mystery of course! I love books that are collegiate, with lots of references to classes, people studying classic subjects minutely and specifically, and the characters in this book were college professors and students, and when presented with a mystery, started researching heavily in libraries and books.This book is the first in the Georgetown Series – I have actually read the second and third and really liked them. It was nice to see the origins of Pat and Ruth, who make appearances in the other books. I find these books perfect for the blustery weather of fall, when I can get cuddly on the couch and be really lazy. And you will have to read to find out about Ammie.
  • (5/5)
    My all-time favorite book--the one that made me to become a writer. AMMIE, COME HOME has been called the best American supernatural mystery of the 20th century and I heartily agree.The story involves Ruth Bennett, owner of an elegant Georgetown home, and her niece Sara, who is staying with Ruth while attending college. One night Sara starts exhibiting behavior that can be explained as either possession or, well…insanity. The book, as reviewers have said, is “dripping with atmosphere,” and downright “chilling.” But under the chills and the atmosphere, AMMIE is a story of the unlikely alliance--Ruth, Sara’s scruffy boyfriend Bruce, and college professor Pat MacDougal—that tries to save the girl.I pull this book out and re-read it every couple of years. It's my comfort read.
  • (5/5)
    March 8, 1999Ammie, Come HomeBarbara MichaelsThe scariest Barbara Michaels of all! Young (college-age) Sara comes to stay with her Aunt Ruth (a thinly veiled Barbara Michaels, really) in Washington, D.C. It’s Ruth who tells the story.A voice in the backyard calling “Ammie, come home!” night after night…. A séance…and finally, possession of Sara by a troubled spirit. The creepiest moment is when Ruth looks at Sara and sees someone else looking back at her from Sara’s eyes. Chills! I read somewhere that the author herself made herself a little nervous with this one!
  • (3/5)
    Originally published in 1968, this still holds up. A seance in a Georgetown House brings out a vengeful ghost. One of Michaels' (aka Barbara Mertz, Elizabeth Peters) earliest novelw. There are two later books with some of the same characters showing up in new situations: Shattered Silk, and Stitches in Time.
  • (4/5)
    One of my favorite books since I first read it in the early 70s (published in 1968). I like the atmosphere of Georgetown old and new, and the ghost story. Barbara Micheals is one pseudonym of Barbara Mertz, who has a Ph.D in Egyptology. She uses Michaels for her gothics, and writes mysteries as Elizabeth Peters.
  • (4/5)
    First in a series of three, this tells the story of Ruth, a widow living with her niece in a stately old Georgetown home, when a strange smoke starts appearing. When Ruth starts dating Pat, Sara begins to show signs of possession, leading Ruth, Pat and Bruce to figure out what's going on.