Gob’s Grief


Gob is Dr. Gob Woodhull, the fictional son of real-life personality Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in 1872. Gob’s grief refers to two losses: the death of his twin brother Tomo at age 12 in the Civil War and the loss of all who died in that war.

Grief envelops this book. Adrian tells the story not just from Gob’s viewpoint but also from those around him who have also lost loved ones. Characters like Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennie are seen as largely untouched by this particular grief and are pushed to the margins of the story, although they are vividly and accurately rendered in their appearances. I would have liked to see more of them.

The outlet for Gob’s grief is the machine he builds to bring Tomo and all the war dead back to life. The machine is only one of the fantastical elements of the book: personal ghosts surround some characters, often appearing more real to them than the living, and a mysterious child, Pickie Beecher, appears. His origin is a wink to those cognizant of the Beecher-Tilton scandal. Gob’s Grief is an ambitious book that draws the reader into the profound sense of loss caused by the Civil War and makes it plausible that grief would drive Gob to grotesque lengths to get his brother back. However, after all the anticipation built up by the machine, the conclusion seems too short and ambiguous, and the mixture of the historical and the supernatural is often uneasy.


Share this review

Now available in paperback (UK) or on Kindle

Jenny Barden's masterful novel about the lost colony of Roanoke.







(US) $24.95
(UK) £15.87
(CA) $34.95

(US) 0767902815




Appeared in

Reviewed by