EBOOK READ (A Reunion of Ghosts) » Judith Claire Mitchell
Traces et indices d'oiseaux. Pistes, nids, plumes, crnes... yE beginning of a darker version of Suicide Clue Is it Great Grandfather Lenz in a hotel with morphine maybe Great Grandmother Iris in the garden with a gun or Grandfather Richard in the bedroom with an open window maybe Mother in the Hudson with a Bridge It goes on I do not want to give the impression that the only way out is DIY For good measure there are plenty of non suicide deaths as well But the uestion is raised can the crimes of our forbears curse future generations Are we to be held accountable for the dark doings of our parents grand parents great grand parents What if we are not but think that we may be Is history destiny Judith Claire Mitchell There is certainly considerable family history here however much individual tales might have been truncated The story flips back and forth between the lives of the sisters and within sundry periods of their lives and the lives of their ancestors in the 19th and early 20th centuries The oldest sister is Lady approaching fifty She wears nothing but black Delph is theoungest at 42 It is on her calf that the introductory uote is inked a bible item uttered by their mother when JFK was shot She is cursed with seeing peoples thoughts in bubbles as they pass Then never not ever have anything nice to say about anyone Vee is in the middle and losing her latest battle with cancer The three contend with scarring of one sort or anotherThey live on Riverside Drive in Manhattan s Upper West Side in an apartment their family has inhabited for agesThe three let us in on pieces of their lives loves sought found and lost sometimes tossed Hearts are broken They are very engaging relatable and often very funny Their conversations sometimes effervesce There are wits aplenty to go around and we are witness to the banter Whereas the sisters dramas tend to the personal however difficult awful mates lousy luck the issues of their ancestors are painted on a colorful European palette They endure personal travails for sure but the issues are a touch larger The Alter family originated in what is now Germany Members of the clan were involved in various enterprises and professions One owned a dye factory another was responsible for technology that increased agricultural ields dramatically One was a brilliant educated woman struggling to find a place in an exclusively male world There are plenty of colorful sorts in the family history including a homosexual malarial dwarf who was also Germany s trade ambassador to Japan Wedded bliss was hardly the norm and there are sundry carryings on One family shares space with Albert Einstein and his relatively miserable marriage One bright light concocts and supervises the implementation of some very very dark science And of course there is that familiar issue of Jewishness in Germany While the sisters contemporary tales are relatable and moving I found the historical segments much interesting and fun however distressing the contentAside from destiny there are concrete ways in which the travails of one generation are visited on the next All I said To Her Was The Truth her was the truth s the same thing I said after the other two were born The lesson from the camp I tell it to Lady and Vee too When they re asleep Never love anyone too much You never know when they might be taken away I whisper it in their ears Every night I whisper it There are plenty of literary bits in here but Mitchell keeps them at a reasonable level The females in the family are all named for flowers Color is a presence across generations There is a wonderful piece on horizontal light another on acausal time But it is not the flourishes that carry the day it is the characters and their tales very well told Not really a spoiler A bit of a rant here which should not take up actual review space but which reuires an outlet so a su aside view spoiler Really fate schmate We are all given a hand It may suck or it may be a flush Point is that it is up to us what to do with the hands we are dealt It is definitely true that there are real world limitations whether because of how society or one s DNA is organized Maybe the damage we have suffered has become too much or our resources for keeping on have become too depleted Tossing away one s life can be understandable when one is faced with having to endure extreme pain or loss of self en route to the end of the line with a terminal illness Depression factors large in the world today and untreated steals one s resolve to carry on And I am sure there are probably other understandable reasons to go all Kevorkian But to give up in the absence of such extremes the case for some of the characters here seems an abdication of responsibility For most of us there are at least some human connections that Will Be Affected So be affected so usually solo act sends tendrils out to grip others One s sense of hope may have been plucked clean but some feathers can grow back There is a time to die for all of us sooner later whenever We take umbrage at the making of a pact by three admittedly fictional people to mutually cease to exist in the absence of a terminal condition times three Maybe it is my former Catholic DNA popping up and saying that suicide is a sin I wouldn t #SAY THAT BUT I WOULD SAY #that but I would say it is a waste Society does a pretty good job of throwing people away We do not really have to give it any extra help Ok rant over hide spoiler. Return And Delph the oungest is resigned to a spinster’s life of stifled dreams But despite their pain they love each other fiercely and share a darkly brilliant sense of humorAs they gather in the ancestral Upper West Side apartment to close the circle of the Alter curse an epic story about four generations of one family inspired in part by the troubled life of German Jewish Fritz Haber Nobel Prize winner and inventor of chlorine gas unfolds. On of Ghosts according to one character that s the collective noun for ghosts is the shared suicide note of three middle aged sisters Lady Vee and Delph They re the end of the family line with apologies to Morrissey the last remaining descendants of Lenz Alter a Jewish scientist known as the father of chemical warfare for his role in the invention of chlorine gas and Zyklon B Believing the family to be cursed doomed to suicide whatever they do the Alter sisters embark on a project to set down their family s story before their inevitable simultaneous deaths There are asides into the lives of various generations of Alters as well as the sisters themselves Every part of the story is emotionally engaging and it s beautifully written filled with warmth humour and humanity This is one of the best uses of a first person plural narrative a device I usually hate I ve ever read a rich and satisfying tapestry of lives that s tragic heartbreaking actually but also really really funny One of my favourite books of 2015 so far I won an ARC copy from GR giveawaysThis was a great family saga with twists and unexpected turns Three sisters that believe they are cursed have come up with a great plan go out by suicide together Writing a joined suicide note with the details of the cursed family and how they have come to beI enjoyed this so much Witty snarky and very well written Thanks Goodreads for the advance ARC Someday this will be funny So says Lady the eldest of the Alter sisters from her hospital gurney following her first failed attempt at killing herself This is an Lichen Sclerosis: How to Heal It year after their mother jumps into the Hudson becoming the sixth in three generations to succumb to despair or what the sisters call the curseBut is it really funnyou might wonder when Irish Paganism you read that blurb this history of tragedy and violence this overwhelming burden of guilt passed down through theears There is the great grandfather who pioneered the use of poisonous gases in warfare and contributed to the death of millions the great grandmother who lived a life of subservience and moral dilemma in her famous notorious husband s shadow the grandmother who painstakingly kept a journal of names of everyone she knew and lost to Zyklon indirectly borne as a result of the great grandfather s researchIt is understandable then why the sisters believe they are doomed Some families might indeed be cursed the sins of the past catching up to stifle the presentAnd despite all the darkness and the persistent morbid theme of the content The book is essentially a family s long suicide note A Reunion of Ghosts manages to be hilariousNot the offensive humor and I was skeptical about this when I started that undermines the gravity of the topic and makes jokes on things that are not to be joked about Oh no This book is funny in the effortless way that the company of someone interesting and witty might delight Kojiki you makeou shake our head delight ou make Comprendre et grer les conflits dans les entreprises et les organisations you shakeour head smile at the things they observe and describeAnd that is because the sisters Lady Vee and Delph are interesting and witty They love word puns they love collecting coincidences they see the tiny ironies in massive things So the narrative which is in their combined voice consists of lines such as this So when Delph repeatedly describes the name change as no big deal just a slight Alter ation ou can t punish her for being punnish Dark humor is new to me but it s something that I m increasingly starting to respect because it s so hard to get right A Reunion of Ghosts is alternately light and dark cold and warm Childish at times even silly Contemplative otherwise It is thematically engaging and structurally interesting in that it employs a first person plural narrative that is common to the sisters et distinguishes the idiosyncrasies of each from the other The stories of the Alter family are sad and somber Un Nol River Falls yet somehow interspersed with bittersweet delight Some of these stories are fiction some are loosely based on fact There is love there is heartbreak disappointments and tiny triumphsThere is deathes But also life Life isn t a soap opera Vee would say It s far nonsensical The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the 3rd and 4th generations Three sisters plan to see out the millennium together really see it out The agree to a mutual suicide pact life has not been particularly kind to be carried out as midnight approaches on December 31 1999 We doan need no steenking millennium As a part of this deal they agree to write a family history in which the end is reallyyou knowthe end A Reunion of Ghosts is that rather lengthy suicide note Sounds cheery no One might suspect that of Ghosts is that rather lengthy suicide note Sounds cheery no One might suspect that families might carry forward propensities whether by DNA the class based transmission of means and opportunities or maybe something even darker So much nicer for folks to have a familial propensity for say red hair or artistic achievement like the Wyeths or Brontes or Marsalises maybe an athletic endowment The Alou boys pop to mind Sometimes however what is passed down is less rewarding If there are detectable genetic markers for suicide these folks would probably light up the test like a Christmas tree although of course being Jewish it might be a Channukah bush instead There is even a chart on page 8 of my ARE listing members of the family with when where and how they pruned themselves It could make for th. E killed themselves beginning with their great grandmother the wife of a Jewish Nobel Prize winning chemist who developed the first poison gas used in World War I and the lethal agent used in Third Reich gas chambers The chemist himself their son Richard and Richard’s children all followed suitThe childless sisters also define themselves by their own bad luck Lady the oldest never really resumed living after her divorce Vee is facing cancer’s. ,
Mitchell s novel is an exploration of unintended conseuences and the burdens of well mapped bloodlines brought together in a perfect confluence of humor and despair Its narrators are the Alter sisters three intelligent tragedy plagued women bound together by antiuing family regrets and a suicide pact The book becomes their farewell They detail generations of family triumphs and mishaps recalling loves gone awry and lamenting the regrettable best of intentions invention that brought Germany one step closer to Zyklon B Mitchell s book made me laugh right before religious services and cry and will remain distinct in my memory as a rare novel that deals with huge historical events the Holocaust pogroms without becoming either tedious or cloying This novel is a surprise and a treat Michelle Anne Schinglerfrom The Best Books of 2015 So Far This book Sigh this book is the book of a decade for me Dark funny thought creating and touching A Jewish New York UWS My childhood neighborhood version of Behind the Scenes at the Museum I ll write later I need to play review catch up in a big way these days but today is not the day So despite this pitiful bit of excited flailing go read this Now Really just go buy a copy sit down with it and start reading I ll be back to talk about its use of humor its probing of the meaning of familial legacies and the creation of mythic sense of fate its ties to history and its sheer fabulous storytelling verve or Jane and Julio you can just get on with it and read it now A Reunion of Ghosts is darket hilarious look at family Written as a long collective suicide note by three sisters It is a darkly humorous story of how we can never uite escape where and who we come from I enjoyed the book after awhile So many characters and the shifting between times places and people felt disjointed There is no disputing that the writing is fantastic Judith Claire Mitchell s second novel It is just one of those books that has a flavor Cruel Fae (The Dark Fae you have to be in the mood for Once again a huge thankou to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK HarperPress4th for the advanced copy of this title in exchange for this review I m not a fan of dark comedy however this book possesses merits worthy of praiseMitchell expertly blends historical fiction with dark comedy The two combinations seem odd but I assure The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics you Mitchell crafts uite a narrative with memorable charactersThe historical reference and notable figure centers around Fritz Haber the inventor of chlorine gas as well as his first wife Clara Haber Using the Haber s gives merit and a level of high interest to the entire story along with the three sisters and their family curse The novel forces the reader to ponder coincidence or fate science or universe Personally I enjoy a narrative leaving me lost in thought mulling heavy topics and subject matter I am certainly given much to consider with this provoking narrativeI completely enjoyed the three sisters Asou become familiar with their personalities and individual stories
their unbreakable bond and deep love for one another ou wish they weren t fictional characters having teaunbreakable bond and deep love for one another ou wish they weren t fictional characters having tea this trio would be entertaining at the very leastThe narrative reads rather ombr alternating from lighter moments thru darker moments darker moments to lighter moments Despite the doom and gloom plenty of mirth makes an appearance expectedly and unexpectedlyFascinating mysterious perfect for a group an imaginative literary family saga Lady Vee and Delph Alter are sisters living together in their childhood apartment one divorced one widowed one a spinster The sisters have embarked on a family history project and have decided they will be the last of the Alter line With one of the sisters having a terminal illness the three decide to commit suicide on New Year s Eve Although we know this at the very beginning of the book this is not at all a depressing read Instead it is the darkly humorous tale not only of the lives of the three sisters but also of their ancestorsWith the lives of the current Alter family and their predecessors intertwining we read of the family history which in the words of their mother doomed them all Their Great Grandfather Lorenz Otto Alter was both a war hero and a prize winning chemist However his scientific discoveries led to him being considered either a scientific genius or the Father of Chemical Welfare as his work resulted in substances as diverse as the use of Zyklon B in the Nazi death camps to Ecstasy in modern day nightclubs We know You re welcome is a deadpan aside to this discovery History hangs heavily on the Alter sisters and although they are funny intelligent and warm it is obvious that they are all too aware of being judged Many of their relatives have committed suicide grandfather aunts uncle mother Yet this novel which is both their testament and suicide note is never maudlin or self pitying If Faire l'amour de manire divine you enjoy intelligent fiction thenou will find meeting these three sisters an enriching experience This would be ideal for a reading group with much to discuss and it is certainly a novel I will return to This bit of schlump received an excellent review in a popular women s magazine that a friend gave me That will teach me The writing was disconnected the characters trite and never inspired me to care about them I cannot recommend this even as a beach read A Reuni. A Reunion of Ghosts is the shared confessional of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves at the end of the 20th century honoring the dark legacy that has haunted their extraordinary family for decadesHow do three sisters write a single suicide note In the waning days of 1999 the Alter sisters Lady Vee and Delph finalize their plans to end their lives Their reasons are not theirs alone; they are the last in a long line of Alters who hav.