Three wickedly funny sisters. One family's extraordinary legacy. A single suicide note that spans a century...
Meet the Alter sisters - Lady, Vee, and Delph, three delightfully witty, complicated women who live together in their family's apartment on the Upper West Side. Though they love each other fiercely, being an Alter isn't easy. Bad luck is in their genes, passed down through the generations. But no matter what curves life throws at these siblings, they always have a wisecrack - and each other.
Now, in the waning days of 1999, as the century comes to an end, Lady, Vee, and Delph decide their time is up, too. First, they must write a note: a mesmerizing accounting of their lives that stretches back decades, to the brilliant scientist - their great-grandfather - whose sinister legacy has defined them.
Smart, heartbreaking, and completely original, Reunion of Ghosts is an epic story of three unforgettable women and one exceptional family and a magnificent saga of the 20th century itself.
©2015 Judith Claire Mitchell (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
Three smart and sardonic sisters with a family tree full of unfortunate and/or unlikable ancestors decide the time has come to leave this world behind.This book is, in essence, their collective suicide note which explains their decision. As we root for the sisters we also realize that fate has certainly dealt them an unlucky hand. But we know other people have the capacity to triumph over adversity--why can't they? Each reader needs to come to his/her own conclusions on whether such an act is justified, but I surprised my own self at the end of this book with my empathy and understanding of these complex and likable characters.
The narrator puts on the droll smarmy voice to great effect--exactly as necessary-- and leaves it alone when it isn't needed. She does a great job.
The historical character of Lenz Alter, the great-grandfather, was so interesting that I looked him up to find out he was not real but he was completely based on the life story of Fritz Haber, who was friends with Einstein. I assume since the granddaughters were fictionalized, I guess the author needed to fictionalize Haber's name.
Pet peeve:There are three separate words (in Hebrew or Yiddish) that she was not coached to say correctly and I never understand why producers of these audiobooks just don't ask someone the correct pronunciation. When a listener familiar with these words hears them mangled, it really takes you out of the story and is irritating.
At times I wondered if the plot was a little contrived, but I would also like to go back and reread or relisten to it. The writing shone. I found myself making time for this one, always a good sign.
Great character development. Great narration. The plot, not so much.
I did listen to it all... it picks up toward the end.
It sometimes seemed like the author had started two books and decided to merge them in a tenuous way since I didn't get the connection between the lives of the characters' grandparents meshing in a meaningful way with the plot's structure in the present and for the present day characters. The author stretches a "sins of the fathers ..." idea pretty far to get a narrative line going but the characters are far too sophisticated to have the reader/listener believe that it is a believable driver of action or plot.
Maybe in reading, instead of listening, it would hold a stronger temporal tie because I had a hard time keeping the grandparents generation straight. Being able to flip back a couple of pages often helps me orient myself.
Anyway, not a bad book. The writer needs a little more focus on the pace of unfolding the narrative. She made me care about the characters through insight into their thoughts and actions... but the plot just kept plodding along.
And my final warning... not really a spoiler but don't read anymore if this type of info (emotional tenor of the book,) ruins the listening experience for you:
I was hoping this was a darkly comic book.... when really it is just a dark sorta depressing story... not what I expected.
The three Alter sisters are determined to make a suicide pact on New Years Eve, as did the generations of Alters before them. The three sisters, who are all childless and single, reflect back in time through the generations of their family tree, which had a lot of relatives hanging from it. And with one sister terminally ill, they are determined to die together.
The sisters dark humor comes through no matter how bad the situation is or was.
Offbeat and funny,
A good listen with a very original sotryline.
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