Synopses & Reviews
Strikingly different since childhood and leading dissimilar lives now, sisters Frances and Cynthia have managed to remain "devoted"—as long as they stay on opposite coasts. When Frances arranges to host Thanksgiving at her idyllic New England farmhouse, she envisions a happy family reunion, one that will include the sisters' long-estranged father. Cynthia, however, doesn't understand how Frances can ignore the past their father's presence revives, a past that includes suspicions about their mother's death twenty-five years earlier.
As Thanksgiving Day arrives, with a houseful of guests looking forward to dinner, the sisters continue to struggle with different versions of a shared past, their conflict escalating to a dramatic, suspenseful climax.
"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 Weekly Entertainment Weekly
"A crash course in sibling rivalry."—O: The Oprah Magazine O, the Oprah magazine
"Suzanne Berne's novel is perfect reading. . . . Compelling."—USA Today USA Today
"Intellectually and emotionally stimulating...recalling the world of Joyce Carol Oates or of Anne Tyler, if she were ominous....Fresh and intriguing."
—San Francisco Chronicle
Suzanne Berne's The Ghost at the Table is a thriller in the tradition of Jane Eyre, where the portrait of human emotion is as dramatic as the shocking events of the story. With the novel's first line and its reluctant admission - 'Going home for Thanksgiving wasn't something I had planned on' -- Berne takes a first sure step into territory familiar to readers of mystery, the place where people are led forward without necessarily wanting or intending to be, and where they will do, no doubt, things they will wish they hadn't." --Carrie Brown, author of Rose's Garden and Lamb in Love
"Suzanne Berne has written a novel as nuanced and illuminating as it is gripping. Think of a book inside a book inside a book, and, at the heart of them all, the complex lies and truths we tell our loved ones and ourselves. The Ghost at the Table
is a searing, beautiful,important novel."
—Elizabeth, Graver author of Awake and Unravelling
“The situations [Berne] creates are so compelling—and so disturbingly familiar—that it’s hard not to be drawn in when everyone’s secrets begin to unravel.” —The Boston Globe Boston Globe
“Right away . . . you know her story and her style are going to be worth your time and hers—and you are hooked.”—USA Today USA Today
A "taut psychological drama...Berne takes an inherently dramatic conflict—one sister's intention to obfuscate the hard truths of the past vs. another's determination to drag them under a spotlight—and ratchets up the stakes with astute observation and narrative cunning."
—Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly
"A witty, moving and psychologically astute story about siblings and the disparate ways they remember common experiences from childhood. . . . Wholly engaging, the perfect spark for launching a rich conversation around your own table once the dishes have been cleared."
—Washington Post Book World The Washington Post
"Wholly engaging, the perfect spark for launching a rich conversation around your own table."—The Washington Post Book World The Washington Post
"In Berne's complex emotional minuet, no one is blameless....With ferocious focus and narrative drive, Berne lets that gate swing wide open."
—Elle Elle Magazine
When Frances arranges to host Thanksgiving at her idyllic New England farmhouse, she envisions a happy family reunion, one that will include her sister, Cynthia, and their estranged father. But tension mounts as the sisters discover that each has a different version of their shared past.
Thanksgiving, homecoming, reunion—family ideals shared across generations and geography. But does reality ever live up to expectations? The Fiske family is gathered at the exquisitely restored New England home of the second of three sisters. Family apologist Frances has gone to great lengths to bring about a reunion with the sisters’ long-estranged father. Unmarried Cynthia, the youngest, has reluctantly come east from California, where she writes books for a series called Sisters of History. Her book-in-progress is about Mark Twain’s daughters, whose lives bear an uncomfortable similarity to those of the Fiske sisters.
This family Thanksgiving is classically disjointed, driven by old jealousies, dangerous misconceptions, and grudging love—the worst kind. The family table groans with the weight of guilt and blame. The result is the taut story of a twenty- first-century family’s unraveling, played against a famous nineteenth-century writer’s own family dysfunction.
About the Author
Suzanne Berne is the author of three novels, the first of which, A Crime in the Neighborhood, won great Britain's Orange Prize. Her most recent novel is The Ghost at the Table. She lives with her family near Boston and teaches at Boston College.