The Ghost at the Table: A Novel (Shannon Ravenel Books)

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9781565123342: The Ghost at the Table: A Novel (Shannon Ravenel Books)

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.

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Book Description:

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.

From the Inside Flap:

Strikingly different since childhood and leading very dissimilar lives now, sisters 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—a reunion that awakens sleeping tensions and old sorrows.

Frances envisions a happy family holiday with her husband and daughters in her lovely old New England farmhouse. Cynthia, a writer of historical fiction, 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. Adding to her uneasiness is her research for a book on Mark Twain's daughters, whose lives she thinks eerily mirror her own and Frances's.

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.

The Ghost at the Table reveals 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 stay apart.

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Suzanne Berne
Published by A Shannon Ravenel Book (2006)
ISBN 10: 1565123344 ISBN 13: 9781565123342
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Berne, Suzanne
Published by A Shannon Ravenel Book (2006)
ISBN 10: 1565123344 ISBN 13: 9781565123342
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