In April 2018’s Whatcha readin’ thread, folks have been talking around the end of The Last to See Me, a literary ghost story. I thought mayyyyybe there’d be just enough interest to support a separate thread; we’ll see. Open spoilers after this post.
So here’s my understanding, fogged a bit by the weeks it’s been since I read it:
The protagonist ghost (Emma Rose?) really was being haunted by the other ghost (I thought at first there was some sort of split-personality thing going on, but I think it was actually another ghost). At the end, the realtor (Ellen?) really did die; but somehow, Emma Rose possessed her body and ran away with it. The final page was all about her bull-stubborn will to live, and that’s what happened, I think. But I’m curious what other theories there are.
I agree with your interpretation, except for the part about Emma Rose being haunted by another ghost. It’s interesting though, could you expand on the theory a little?
Here are my thoughts on the climax of the story, previously expressed to another poster:
My take is that Emma Rose’s spirit entered the body of Ellen as Ellen was dying, and Emma Rose more or less became a living human being again. The author made Pratt’s description of how this worked pretty vague when he talked about it earlier in the book, but he did say a ghost can do it if they force themselves to believe they can. The flashbacks to Emma Rose as she’s drowning seem to show her doing that.
For me the clincher was the part about “standing up in the clean little business suit”. I don’t see how to take that any other way than Emma Rose possessing Ellen’s body. Then of course Emma Rose/Ellen got the hell out of there to start her new life again (thus the description in the epilogue of Ellen being missing and presumed dead).
There’s a reference to Pratt destroying the “last Lambry in this village”, and it’s confusing. It could refer to either Ellen or Alice (I think that was her name; the old lady who died in the Lambry mansion shortly before the story began). I read it several times, and the only thing that makes sense to me is that it’s referring to the ghost of Alice, not Ellen. Also I think it’s logical to assume that the device used by Pratt only worked on ghosts and wouldn’t have destroyed Ellen, who was either dying or had just died, and wasn’t a ghost (remember, only a few people become ghosts when they die).
That’s the explanation that satisfies me and makes the book a success as far as I’m concerned. I freely admit I could be all wrong, because it’s obvious M. Dressler wanted to leave things ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Maybe that’s part of what makes it such a good book!
Eesh. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but wasn’t it pretty well suggested that some other ghost had it in for Emma Rose and was framing her for the other acts–e.g., the death of the handyman, the trashing of Ellen’s house, etc.? “Haunted” might not be the right word, but I left the book pretty clear that another ghost wanted revenge against Emma. I can’t remember whose ghost it was, though.
Oh yeah, I agree with that. My theory is that the other ghost was the old lady I’m calling Alice. Like you said, she was responsible for the water tank collapsing on the handyman and the trashing of Ellen’s house. She was angry with Emma Rose for smothering her with the pillow, even though she was dying anyway and Emma Rose was just trying to put her out of her misery.
As I recall, there’s some discussion early in the book about how recent ghosts don’t really understand what’s happening to them, and they make mistakes such as having emotional outbursts, which somehow makes them vulnerable to ghostbusters like Pratt. That led to Pratt destroying Alice with his “device” during the chaotic final scene. Emma Rose, on the other hand, had been a ghost for a century and understood how to protect herself from being detected. She strategically limited her terrorizing of the living.
By the way, I think its an interesting irony in the plot that Emma Rose was inventing clues to frame Alice and make Pratt think that she was the ghost he was after, when in reality Alice actually was the villain. Emma Rose didn’t figure that out until the climax.
Again, this is all just my interpretation. It was pretty confusing and I don’t claim to understand the plot completely.
Let me do some cutting and pasting from the PM discussion, if you don’t mind.
That was my first impression. After reading what Rough Draft had to say, I decided
I think it would have worked better if that whole sideline about Ellen’s link to the Lambrys had been left out. I don’t recall that it was important to the story otherwise.
I’m pretty sure Ellen wasn’t a ghost–as you say, she proved herself corporeal at some point. The “Last Lambry” line might well be a minor plot hole, the author forgetting an aspect of the world she created in the moment of drama. Otherwise I can’t make sense out of that scene at all.
I agree with all of this, especially the part about Ellen as a Lambry relation being unnecessary or a minor plot hole.
As I recall, somebody on GoodReads claimed that the author was willing to discuss the book in the questions section, but she hasn’t so far. I wish she would!