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The ghost at the table : a novel
Suzanne Berne
Adult Fiction BERNE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This taut psychological drama by Orange Prize-winner Berne (A Crime in the Neighborhood) unfolds as San Francisco freelance writer Cynthia Fiske acquiesces to her maternal older sister, Frances, and attends the Thanksgiving family reunion Frances is hosting at her perfectly restored Colonial home in Concord, Mass. Cynthia believes her father, now 82, murdered their invalid mother with an overdose of pills when Cynthia was 13, and she has no wish to ever see him again. Within months after their mother died, their father packed Frances and Cynthia off to boarding school and married the much younger Ilse, a graduate student who worked as part-time tutor to Frances. But now he's suffered a stroke. Ilse is divorcing him, and the family is placing him in a home. Tension is high by the time the assorted guests, including Frances's complicated teenage daughters, her mysterious husband and the speech-impaired patriarch, are called to Frances's table, and it doesn't take much to fan the first flares of anger into the inevitable conflagration. 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. (Oct. 20) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Family dysfunction gets a much-needed makeover in this solid, satisfying novel from Orange Prize winner Berne (A Crime in the Neighborhood). When Cynthia Fiske, a successful author, reluctantly agrees to visit one of her sisters, Frances, for Thanksgiving, the siblings resume their long-running argument over what really happened the night their mother died. Despite their best efforts, this disagreement permeates their conversations, lacing each word with passive-aggressive meaning and adding suspense to daily routines. Readers who like a measured pace will enjoy the tension that builds as Cynthia's visit progresses, while those who appreciate a good metaphor will relish the parallel between Cynthia's latest project-a history of Mark Twain's daughters-and the Fiskes' own trauma. Amusing concrete symbols, e.g., a Jacuzzi-thawed turkey and one of the ugliest family heirlooms to grace the pages of contemporary fiction, add heft to the narrative, making it easy for the reader to see (and choose) sides. An original take on a frequently explored subject; recommended for medium to large fiction collections.-Leigh Anne Vrabel, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Cynthia Fiske
Freelance writer; believes her father killed her invalid mother; father remarried a much younger woman whs is now divorcing him after he suffered a stroke.

Cynthia's older sister.

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