The Ghost at the Table

The Ghost at the Table

2.98 (1,217 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
By (author) 

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Description

"Going home for Thanksgiving wasn't something I had planned on...every year Frances asked me to come for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but every year for one reason or another, I said no. We both understood the effect we had on each other, only made worse by the holidays. Still, Frances felt she needed to invite me, just as I needed to refuse. In this way, we absolved each other. Or that's how it worked until one October day, over a year ago now, when Frances called to say that our father would be spending Thanksgiving with her, for the first time in a quarter of a century, and she literally begged me to fly to Boston..." Markedly different since childhood, and leading very different lives now, Frances and Cynthia have nevertheless managed to remain "devoted" - so long as they stay on opposite coasts. But with the reappearance of their elderly, long-estranged father they find themselves reunited for a cold, snowy Thanksgiving week, during which sleeping tensions and old griefs reawaken. Frances, once the father's favourite, envisions a happy family holiday along with her husband and daughters in her lovely old New England farmhouse, while Cynthia, a writer of "historical fiction for girls," doesn't understand how Frances can ignore the past their father's presence suddenly revives, a past that includes suspicions about their mother's death twenty-five years earlier and who was really to blame. Adding to Cynthia's uneasiness is her research for a book on Mark Twain's daughters, whose lives she thinks eerily mirror her own and Frances' - a point on which Frances eagerly agrees, but from the opposite perspective. As Thanksgiving day arrives, with a houseful of guests looking forward to dinner, the sisters continue to struggle with different versions of their shared past, until a warning issued by Cynthia's friend Carita, that "Families are toxic, and blood is bloody," proves prophetically true. At turns poignant and funny, this haunting novel demonstrates what happens when one person tries to rewrite another's history, and explores the mystery of why families try to stay together - even when it may be in their best interests to keep apart.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 141 x 218 x 29mm | 482g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • Fig Tree
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 1905490054
  • 9781905490059
  • 1,960,396

Review quote

"Delicious. . . . Berne turns a witty tale of holiday dysfunction into a transfixing borderline gothic, her appealing heroine into an unreliable narrator seething with decades-old resentment. . . .A."--Entertainment Weeklyshow more

About Suzanne Berne

Suzanne Berne lives with her husband and two daughters near Boston. Her first novel, A Crime in the Neighbourhood, won the 1999 Orange Prize.show more

Rating details

1,217 ratings
2.98 out of 5 stars
5 5% (57)
4 23% (284)
3 43% (526)
2 24% (287)
1 5% (63)
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