For decades Ethel Davis Hopper, known by everyone around town as a poison-dripper and a control freak, has hosted family reunions in her little slice of beautiful northern Vermont for what has burgeoned into five generations of Davis and Hopper offspring. This year's reunion will be different, though: she's planning to host her own living funeral.
The extended family, described by Ethel's favorite granddaughter as people who cluster themselves in three factions, "like bunches of Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds," plans to gather at Ethel's dream home overlooking the quaint village, despite their confusion as to what the longtime organizer has in store for them. Even the far-flung and estranged Hopper clan intends to show up this year, mostly because they wouldn't miss the old harridan's send-off to the world.
As the reunion approaches, this richly textured, dark yet comic novel reveals generations of family secrets and the inbred dysfunction that accompanies that history, much of it told through the journals of Ethel's late husband, Lyle. In her finest melodrama to date, Ethel serves up guilt-trips, barbs, and a self-serving, revisionist view of life with her loving husband to her long-suffering offspring. Come and see how much fun a Family Reunion can be. Our own families will seem tame by comparison.