Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Ghost at the Table

I just finished this at lunch, and while it wasn't at all bad (I finished it, after all), it was less than I'd hoped it would be. In fairness, whatever book I'd read after The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf was going to suffer purely because it wasn't TGitTS, but still . . .

The book is about middle-aged sisters and their father and what may or may not have happened in their pasts. Everything is brought together in what I admit is a pretty deliciously tense family Thanksgiving at the elder sister's perfectly restored New England home, but nothing is resolved in a way that I could really care about.

There are some sloppy bits to the story, too, and the attempt to connect the characters' lives to the lives of Mark Twain and his family falls really flat. Berne includes a sister in the story who lives and dies pretty much completely outside of anyone's lives . . . it's weird. There are some parts that just sort of dangle around like threads that should have been trimmed, like the narrator's niece's possibly self-cutting. What? When? Why? And speaking of the narrator, you come to find that she's not the most reliable in the world, and I guess that hit me too late to not feel jerked around.

Hmm. I guess I liked this even less than I thought. If it's been on your list, you might want to give it a miss. Not because it's awful, but because there are better books to spend your time with.


Joke said...


Was that so hard?


Kathy said...

It's got such a great title though -- as does The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, which I might read.

TLB said...

This is good to know, since I was thinking of picking it up. Too bad, because I really like A Crime in the Neighborhood.