Synopses & Reviews
Three wickedly funny sisters.
One family's extraordinary legacy.
A single suicide note that spans a century ...
Meet the Alter sisters: Lady, Vee, and Delph. These three mordantly witty, complex women share their family's apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. They love each other fiercely, but being an Alter isn't easy. Bad luck is in their genes, passed down through the generations. Yet no matter what curves life throws at these siblings — and it's hurled plenty — they always have a wisecrack, and one another.
In the waning days of 1999, the trio decides it's time to close the circle of the Alter curse. But first, as the world counts down to the dawn of a new millennium, Lady, Vee, and Delph must write the final chapter of a saga lifetimes in the making — one that is inexorably intertwined with that of the twentieth century itself. Unspooling threads of history, personal memory, and family lore, they weave a mesmerizing account of their lives that stretches back decades to their great-grandfather, a brilliant scientist whose professional triumph became the sinister legacy that defines them.
Funny, heartbreaking, and utterly original, A Reunion of Ghosts is a magnificent novel about three unforgettable women bound to each other, and to their remarkable family, through the blessings and the burdens bestowed by blood.
“A rich portrait of a complicated family, at turns violent and hilarious, shot through with love and death and the scars that reappear generation after generation.” Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers
“This is a triumphant, beautiful, and devastating novel about coincidences, family, and the sins of our fathers.” Anthony Doerr, New York Times bestselling author of All The Light We Cannot See
“Judith Claire Mitchell understands whats at the marrow of our funny bones: that humor lives in darkness, that our families are our curses and our blessings, that great pain can beget great warmth and love.” Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia
“Mitchell's masterful family saga…captures the agony and ecstasy (but mostly agony) with deep empathy and profound wit. For the Alters, life has been a seemingly endless series of tragedies; for us, the tragedy is that this stunning novel inevitably comes to an end.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“My favourite novel of the year so far…. A literary mash-up of The Virgin Suicides and Grey Gardens. I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola are slugging it out for the film rights already.” Sam Baker, Harper's Bazaar online (UK)
“For the Alter sisters, living with the guilt of the generations, there is only one way out…. This novel is a carefully crafted, thought-provoking examination of history past and present as seen through the eyes of a complex yet humble family.” Booklist
“Mitchell's triumphant second novel explores love, identity, and the burdens of history in coruscating, darkly comic prose…. Moving nimbly through time and balancing her weightier themes with the sharply funny, fiercely unsentimental perspectives of her three protagonists… [it] is poignant and pulsing with life force.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A clever, modern tale that…hearkens back to…a host of unusual, lively memorable characters.… Darkly humorous.” Library Journal
“Mitchell explores the mixed-blessing bonds of family with wry wit. This original tale is black comedy at its best.” People Book of the Week
“What's so funny about three sisters bent on committing suicide? Plenty, in the imagination of Judith Claire Mitchell…. Darkly witty.” Dallas Morning News
“Mitchell's plot, which twists in unexpected but believable ways and opens up just when it seems as if it can only close in, is thoroughly satisfying, but its the tone of her novelthat ability to savor joy and sorrow at the same timethat makes it remarkable.” Columbus Dispatch
A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST
"The Alter sisters are mordant, wry, and crystalline in wit and vision; it is a tremendous pleasure to rocket through generations of their family histories with them." --Lauren Groff, New York Timesbestselling author of Fates and Furies, The Monsters of Templeton, and Arcadia
In the waning days of 1999, the last of the Alters--three damaged but wisecracking sisters who share an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side--decide it's time to close the circle of the family curse by taking their own lives. But first, Lady, Vee, and Delph must explain the origins of that curse and how it has manifested throughout the preceding generations. Unspooling threads of history, personal memory, and family lore, they weave a mesmerizing account that stretches back a century to their great-grandfather, a brilliant scientist whose professional triumph became the terrible legacy that defines them. A suicide note crafted by three bright, funny women, A Reunion of Ghosts is the final chapter of a saga lifetimes in the making--one that is inexorably intertwined with the story of the twentieth century itself.
"Mitchell explores the mixed-blessing bonds of family with wry wit. This original tale is black comedy at its best."--People Book of the Week
"A rich portrait of a complicated family, at turns violent and hilarious."--Emma Straub, New York Timesbestselling author
--Sam Baker, Harper's Bazaar
About the Author
Judith Claire Mitchell, author of the novel The Last Day of the War, is an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Judy has received fellowships from the James A. Michener/Copernicus Society, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and elsewhere. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich.
Read an exclusive essay by Judith Claire Mitchell