"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 ...
"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.
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This book was very well written in straightforward prose. In fact, I read it all in one night. It's difficult to say whether I truly liked it or not though. As I said it was really easy to read and flowed nicely but the subject matter is not really my cup of tea and that may be the reason I'm wishy washy on this. Still, what I did like about the book was the author can really draw the reader into the mind of the narrator. We are truly seeing things as she sees them. The author does this so well that as the reader we only see the others' flaws and not the narrator's. This of course changes later as we begin to notice the narrator is far from perfect and has serious issues of her own.
Dec 3, 2007
Who is the ghost?
Two sisters grow up in the same household with the same parents and you would think they would have similiar memories. Well they don't and the older I become the more I find this to be true. Both sisters had different perspectives on their mother's illness and their father's reaction to it. These memories come to a head when the older sister and the younger get together for Thanksgiving. The estranged father is included as are two teenage daughters, a friend and some work collegues of the older sister's husband. What ensues is far from the perfect Home for the Holidays idea of Thansgiving. Good story with some twists just to keep things interesting.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-06-12 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
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