From Mary Swan, the bestselling author of the Scotiabank Giller finalist The Boys in the Trees, comes a dazzling and intricate new novel that tracks one family across 150 years, unearthing long-buried secrets and capturing moments that reverberate unexpectedly across the generations.
In My Ghosts, with an uncanny eye for the telling detail, Mary Swan brings to vivid life a household of Scottish orphans trying to make their way in Toronto in 1879. The youngest, Clare, has rheumatic fever; the oldest brother has run away. The fate of them all rests on the responsible Ben, the irrepressible Charlie and the two middle sisters: Kez, sarcastic with big ears and a kind heart, and Nan, benignly round but with a hidden talent for larceny and mischief. Fascinating lives spool out from these siblings: a cast of indelible strivers and schemers, spinsters and unhappy spouses, star-crossed lovers and hidden adulterers, victims of war and of suicide--proof of how eventful the lives of "ordinary families" can be.
Swan leaves us with the contemporary Clare, widowed and moodily packing up her house. She isn't sure what she'll do next, and she knows nothing of her family's past. But we do: we recognize the ghosts and echoes, the genetic patterns and the losses that have shaped her as much as her own choices and heartbreaks.
My Ghosts is entrancing fiction that pulls you into its characters' lives at the same time as it inspires you to think about your own ghosts, your own forgotten past.
MARY SWAN's first novel, The Boys in the Trees, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008 and for the Amazon First Novel Award. She is the winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction and is the author of the novella The Deep, a finalist for the Canada/Caribbean Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and the collection Emma's Hands. Her work has appeared in several Canadian literary magazines and anthologies, including Malahat Review and Best Canadian Stories, as well as in American publications such as Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Zoetrope and Harper's Magazine. She lives with her family in Guelph, Ontario.
“Swan writes beautifully about the interplay of chance and choice in people’s lives and the various ways that losses and joys reverberate through generations, haunting the present with all that came before and all that might have been. These are affecting stories of ordinary lives told with extraordinary clarity and grace.”
—Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride
“With delicate brush strokes, My Ghosts beautifully evokes the filigree of time and memory. Through generations of family voices, Mary Swan deftly explores the deep layers of human connection and imagination. I began each chapter with delightful anticipation: who would be speaking now, in what era, and how would the ancestral echoes reverberate?”
—Lilian Nattel, author of Web of Angels
“My Ghosts is intricate and compelling, a tapestry of interlinked narratives that shimmer and flow. Part family saga, part meditation on time, space, and memory, this mesmerizing novel lingers long after the last page. A literary feast, poignant and wise.”
—Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace