Book Review: A Reunion of Ghosts
ashley | At the start of the year, I was reading a lot of people’s lists for the most anticipated books of 2015. While I didn’t actually compile one myself, I certainly made note of a hefty handful that I wanted to check out. One of the books that immediately stood out for me was A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell and I was thrilled to be able to get my hand on a copy before it comes out.
I don’t know what it says about me, but I was incredibly intrigued by the premise of three sisters writing a joint suicide note. How does someone do that? And why do these three sisters want to kill themselves? The description screamed interesting characters; I immediately wanted to get to know these women better and I’m really glad I did.
Lady, Vee and Delph are forty-something, single, childless, petless and cursed with a destiny and unswayable desire to kill themselves. But despite their looming deaths, these are some of the most alive and colourful characters I have met in a long time. Between the three of them, they have lived quite a strange and unique life. The randomness of things they have experienced are almost unbelievable and beg to question whether some of their story is slightly exaggerated. But that’s just the type of women they are. They stumble into exuberant situations in their otherwise humble and mundane lives.
The most interesting thing about these three sisters is the curse. Their family is cursed and has been for three generations. The thing about a curse that spans generations is that in order to get the full sense of the curse, you need to get a full sense of the family, generation by generation. There is a lot of focus on the past generations and sometimes it drags a little bit, but Mitchell does take this opportunity to fuse a bit of history into the story, with characters based on historical people, playing key roles in wars and having well known historical figures as friends. I always enjoy this kind of surprise, taking some creative freedom with historical fact. It makes for an interesting element in an already interesting story and adds a bit more life to the characters.
Fate and destiny and coincidence are all taken into question throughout the book; are certain things random occurrences or something bigger at play? This is discussed a lot towards the end of the book and in the second part, your entire perspective is shifted as additional details are revealed, which is a nice reboot on a story that seems to kind of walk in circles, though not in a bad way.
Because this is written as a combined suicide note, the voice is a unique one. It’s sometimes first person collective, other times third person, the tone changes a lot, but it isn’t over complicated and it works pretty well for the overall story.
This isn’t necessarily an easy read, there are a lot of details and tangents and it took me a bit longer to get through than I had expected, but it is most certainly an enjoyable read. And for a story primarily about death and suicide, it’s surprisingly light. I found myself chuckling on more than one occasion, praising the cleverness on others and I would just really, really like to have tea with these three sisters. They were a hoot.