Picks and Pans Review: Living with Ghosts
by Prince Michael of Greece
How difficult and demanding it must be to belong to the European aristocracy. Not only must one arrange for the upkeep of the family chateau and manage a legion of servants, but it seems one must also deal diplomatically with the castle's resident (and restless) spirits. The only thing that lightens the load is to have a houseguest like Prince Michael of Greece, 45, who according to his new book has a hereditary knack for charming poltergeists and phantoms.
The prince's amateur vocation as a sort of high-end ghostbuster takes him from Portugal to Poland, from Parma to Pavlovsk, touring the magnificent (or ruined) homes of the rich and haunted. En route he encounters a predictable run of disembodied voices and invisible furniture shakers, as well as a few spooks with more original methods of announcing their presence (two Danish ghosts interrupt a Leonard Cohen cassette that a relative is enjoying). Some of this sends pleasantly creepy shivers down the spine, but the prince's decision to focus on female ghosts and transcribe (in first person) their lengthy, often steamy reminiscences ("My relations with my lovers were like the nights of love I gave them, sometimes rampant and destructive like molten lava, sometimes sluggish and gentle as an estuary") often makes his book seem deeply weird in ways that have little or nothing to do with the otherworldly. (Norton, $25)
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