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A Novel

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On Sale: April 26, 2005
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-1-4000-4492-4
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group

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For nearly two decades, since the publication of her iconic first novel, The Good Mother, Sue Miller has distinguished herself as one of our most elegant and widely celebrated chroniclers of family life, with a singular gift for laying bare the interior lives of her characters. In each of her novels, Miller has written with exquisite precision about the experience of grace in daily life–the sudden, epiphanic recognition of the extraordinary amid the ordinary–as well as the sharp and unexpected motions of the human heart away from it, toward an unruly netherworld of upheaval and desire. But never before have Miller’s powers been keener or more transfixing than they are in Lost in the Forest, a novel set in the vineyards of Northern California that tells the story of a young girl who, in the wake of a tragic accident, seeks solace in a damaging love affair with a much older man.

Eva, a divorced and happily remarried mother of three, runs a small bookstore in a town north of San Francisco. When her second husband, John, is killed in a car accident, her family’s fragile peace is once again overtaken by loss. Emily, the eldest, must grapple with newfound independence and responsibility. Theo, the youngest, can only begin to fathom his father’s death. But for Daisy, the middle child, John’s absence opens up a world of bewilderment, exposing her at the onset of adolescence to the chaos and instability that hover just beyond the safety of parental love. In her sorrow, Daisy embarks on a harrowing sexual odyssey, a journey that will cast her even farther out onto the harsh promontory of adulthood and lost hope.

With astonishing sensuality and immediacy, Lost in the Forest moves through the most intimate realms of domestic life, from grief and sex to adolescence and marriage. It is a stunning, kaleidoscopic evocation of a family in crisis, written with delicacy and masterful care. For her lifelong fans and those just discovering Sue Miller for the first time, here is a rich and gorgeously layered tale of a family breaking apart and coming back together again: Sue Miller at her inimitable best.

From the Hardcover edition.


Emily telephoned, his older daughter. "Can you come get us?" she said. "It's an emergency."

As usual, she didn't greet him, she didn't say hello at the start of the call. And also as usual, this bothered him, he felt a familiar pull of irritation at her voice, her tone. But even as he was listening to her, he was focused on steering the truck around the sharp curves in the narrow road, around several small heaps of rock that had slid down the steep hillside: he was feeling the pleasure he always took in the way the slanted afternoon light played on the yellowed grass and reddened leaves left in the vineyards, in the way the air smelled. He kept his voice neutral as he responded. "When? Now?"

In the background, behind her, Mark could hear someone give a sudden whoop. Festivities, he thought. As ever. Eva's face rose in his mind--his ex-wife. At the least excuse, there was a gathering at her house: to celebrate a birthday--reasonable enough; but also for a project completed, a team victory, a skill accomplished. You learned to ride a bike, you got a party thrown for you.

"Duh. Yes, Dad, now," Emily said. "That's what I mean."

He was headed north on 128 to a small vineyard he thought his crew should harvest tomorrow. He needed to check the grapes. But he could probably get Angel to do it if he had to. His windows were open. The noise of the rushing air made his daughter's voice on the car phone sound distant.

"So?" she said. "Can you?"

If his younger daughter, Daisy, had ever called him because of an emergency, it would have been a child's crisis--not making the basketball team, needing a ride somewhere that her mother or stepfather couldn't provide. But with Emily, this emergency was likely to be at least slightly serious, an emergency in near-adult terms. Terms he might even be sympathetic with.

But she would be taking charge again, and this was something he and his ex-wife had agreed that she should be discouraged--no, freed--from doing so often. He cleared his throat. "Maybe I should talk to your mom," he said. Yes. The approach to take.

"Dad!" she objected. He didn't answer for a long moment, and as if in response to this, her voice had changed when she spoke again. She sounded younger: "Mom can't talk right now. That's why we need you."

And with those words, we need you, it was settled. To be needed. Well. Mark thought of Emily's delicate oval face, her regular, pretty features, her curly dark hair, so like Eva's--all the things that were lovely about her. All the things that didn't piss him off. "Okay," he said. "Okay, as it happens, I can come. As it happens, I will."

She wouldn't be charmed. "Now?" she said impatiently.

"Now. Or, gimme ten or so." He was slowing, and as he pulled into a turnaround by the roadside, the truck bounced and his tires crunched on the dusty gravel.

"Okay." She sighed, in relief it seemed. "Just honk, though," she said. "We'll come out. Oh, and Dad?"


"It's for overnight."

It could not be for overnight. He had plans. He had a date. He was going to get laid. "Okay, sunshine," he said. "We'll work it all out."

She sighed again and hung up.

Twenty minutes or so later, when he pulled up at the curb in front of his ex-wife's large Victorian house, the door opened before he hit the horn and his younger daughter staggered out onto the wide porch, carrying her sleeping bag, her pack an oversize hump on her back. Daisy was barefoot. Her long brown legs were exposed nearly to the crotch in cutoff jeans--legs that were beginning to look less like sticks and more like a woman's, he noted. Emily came out the door after her, turned backward as if to fuss with something behind her.

Two pretty, dark, young women, one tall, one short: his daughters. He got out of the truck to go and help them. As he started up the walk, he saw Theo emerging from the house behind Emily. The little boy, not yet three, was carrying a brown paper grocery bag by its handles. Something stuck out of it--a pillow? a blanket? He spotted Mark and smiled. Now Emily took Theo's hand to help him down the wide porch stairs. He paused on each one, and the bag plopped slowly from step to step behind him as he descended.

Mark met them on the walk. "Hey," he said. He kissed each girl on her head. They smelled identical, a ladylike herbal perfume: shared shampoo. He took Daisy's sleeping bag from her. "Theo!" he said, and extended his hand down to him. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"

"I'll explain it all to you," Emily called back. She had moved ahead of them down the walk, between the orderly gray-green procession of rosemary plants. She was tossing her stuff into the open back of the truck.

"So he's supposed to spend the night too?" Mark asked Daisy. Theo was not his son. Theo was his ex-wife's son, by her second marriage. He liked Theo. He was, in fact, charmed by him--he knew him well from various extended-family events--but he had never before been asked to babysit for him. And actually, no one had even asked.

Daisy shrugged. She looked, as she often did, sullen. Or evasive. Her face was narrower than Emily's, her nose still slightly too big on it--she was fourteen--her eyebrows darker and thick. She had shot up within the last two years, and now she was only a few inches shorter than Mark. She carried it badly, trying to hide it. Mark had worried when she was younger that she would be plain, which seemed to him an almost unbearably sad thing--a plain woman. Within the last six months or so, though, her face had changed and strengthened, and he saw that that wouldn't be the case. That she might, in fact, be better-looking than Emily in the end, more striking. It had made him easier around her, he realized.

They had caught up to Emily, who said again, "I'll explain it later." She sounded irritated, as though she were the adult and he a nagging child. She took Theo's hand and led him to the door of the truck's cab.

Mark went around to the driver's side. He opened his door and stood there looking across the cab's wide seat, waiting for Emily to look back at him. She wouldn't. Or she didn't. First she was helping the little boy clamber into the truck; now she climbed up herself and was busy buckling him in. When she finally raised her eyes and met her father's, he was ready. He lifted his hands. "Hey, Em," he said. "You will admit--"

"Daddy, it's an emergency. A real emergency." Her eyes, he noted now, were red-rimmed, their lids swollen.

Theo looked over at him and nodded. "It's a mergency," he said, and inserted his thumb into his mouth with an air of finality.

Daisy squeezed in next to Emily, and Mark got in and started the truck. He pulled into the street. After nearly a full minute had passed, he asked, "So, the nature of this emergency is . . . ?"

He could feel Emily's gaze on him, and he looked at her. She was frowning--her dark eyebrows made fierce lines. She shook her head. "We can't . . . we shouldn't . . . talk about it now." She gestured at Theo, sitting between them, watching them soberly.

Mark nodded. After another long moment he said, "But at some point it will be revealed."

"Yeah," she said. She turned away, and when he looked over again, he saw that she and Daisy were holding hands. What the hell was going on? Daisy's mouth hung open stupidly, as though she'd been sucker punched.

They drove in near-total silence the whole way to his house. Everyone's eyes stayed devoutly on the road, as though the familiar scenes rolling past--the valley as it widened out and spread the fall colors of its vineyards before them, the deep green of the hills riding along above it all--were some new and fascinating nature movie. Once Daisy said in a near-whisper, "Are those pills supposed to knock her out or something?" and Emily shrugged. That was it.

Knock who out? Not Eva, he thought. He imagined her, his ex-wife--small, dark, quick moving, graceful. Her sudden sexy smile. Not Eva.

Above Calistoga, he turned in at the unmarked dirt road to his house. There were sparse, newly planted vineyards on either side of it. He had to swerve and dance the truck to avoid the ruts. He could feel Theo's weight swing against his side. After about a quarter of a mile, he pulled into his driveway and then up onto the cement pad where one day he planned to build a garage.

As soon as he cut the engine, they could hear the dogs barking in the house. The children started to unbuckle their seat belts, and he swung himself out of the truck. He began to gather their possessions from the back. They came and stood behind him--silent, oddly passive, waiting for their things to be put into their hands.

He led the way. When he opened the back door, the dogs shot out and started jumping around, abruptly quieted by their joy in being released. Their heavy tails whacked everyone.

Theo made a little noise of terror and delight and stepped between Mark's legs, gripping his thighs. Mark put his hands on the boy's narrow shoulders, and was instantly startled--and then aware of being startled.

Why? Why did it feel so strange to touch the little boy?

Perhaps because he had anticipated the way the girls felt when they were Theo's size, when he had loved to touch them, to hold them. Theo's body was wiry and tense, utterly unlike theirs at the same age. It felt hot with energy.

"It's okay, big guy," Mark said gently. "They like you. They like kids like you."

Theo looked up at Mark, wide-eyed and alarmed. "They would like to eat me?" he asked. He was lighter-haired, lighter-skinned than the girls, and this difference somehow struck Mark as sad.

"No, no, no," Mark said. "They like to lick you, and play with you. You'll see. They're nice."

He squatted by Theo and held his own hand out to Fanny to be licked. When Theo imitated him after a moment, Fanny's long, rough tongue came out and stroked the boy's hand too. He snatched his arm back and jigged a little in fear and pleasure, a prancey running in place. He wore miniature red high-top sneakers. His striped socks had slid down almost entirely into them. One of his knees was thickly scabbed.

Emily and Daisy had disappeared immediately into the house, to put their things away, Mark assumed. He stood up. Theo grabbed his hand, and walked right next to Mark, into the kitchen, through it, virtually riding his left leg and talking all the while to the dogs: "No bite me! Bad dog! Bad, bad dog! No bite!"

Mark was feeling a rising, irritated frustration, which he didn't want to focus on the little boy. He gestured across the living room, toward the back of the house. "Let's go figure out what everyone's up to, shall we?"

Theo looked up at Mark. "Yah," he answered.

Theo shadowed him to the doorway of the back room. The girls' beds nearly filled its narrow space. It was dark and underwatery in here--the one window faced out into an overgrown evergreen shrub, which Mark kept meaning to prune, and hadn't. The light that filtered through it was weak and greenish. Daisy was carefully spreading her unzipped bag out on her bed, as she always did. This was her strategy to avoid making it, a chore she hated. Emily was already lying down, one arm under her head, staring out the window at nothing. Ignoring him, Mark felt.

"A word with you, Em?" he said, his voice carefully neutral.

Both girls looked at him. They seemed startled, like sleepers he'd wakened. He turned to his younger daughter. "Daze, could you keep an eye on Theo for a minute? He's scared of the dogs."

She nodded.

"I not scared," Theo was instantly shrilling. "I a big boy. I not scared."

As Mark and Emily stepped toward the doorway, Daisy, who had flopped down onto her bed, was starting a game: "How big are you, Theo? Big as a . . . lion?"

"Yes!" the boy cried.

As soon as Mark shut the door to his room, Emily sat down heavily at the foot of his rumpled bed and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's John. John's dead." Her face twisted, and tears immediately began sliding down it, as though she'd been waiting until this moment to allow herself her full measure of grief.

"What do you mean?" John was Eva's husband, the girls' stepfather. Theo's father.

"He's dead, Daddy." Her hands came to her face now and covered her opened mouth. She inhaled sharply through her fingers, and then closed her eyes. "He got hit . . . by a car. A car hit him."

Mark pictured it. He pictured it wrong, as it turned out, but he saw John then--his large body, bloody, slumped behind the wheel of his ruined car. He saw him dead, though he didn't believe it.

Mark sat down next to his daughter and held her, and she wept quietly and thoroughly, as he couldn't remember her weeping since he had told her he was moving out--long shuddering inhalations, and then a gentle high keening as her inheld breath came out. From the other bedroom he could hear Theo shrieking, "Bad! Bad!" and Daisy's voice trying to distract him.

"Sweetheart, it's okay. Cry, cry," he said. And then he said, "Shhh."

Though he was still thinking of John, still trying to take it in, he was also aware of thinking that it felt good, holding Emily. And of wondering when he had last held her, her or Daisy. He couldn't remember.

When she had calmed down a little, he stretched away from her to grab the box of tissues from the stand by the bed. She blew loudly, using several, and wiped her face. His shirt was wet where she had leaned against him.

"How did it happen?" he asked at last, keeping his voice gentle. "When?"

She seemed stricken again at the question, her eyes swam and grew larger, but she held on and whispered back, "This afternoon. A car just . . . hit him."

Mark cleared his throat. "He was driving?"

From the Hardcover edition.
Sue Miller|Author Q&A

About Sue Miller

Sue Miller - Lost in the Forest

Photo © Elena Seibert

Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The Lake Shore Limited, The Senator’s Wife, Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Cambridge.

Author Q&A


Jennifer Morgan Gray is a writer and editor who lives in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Jennifer Morgan Gray: Was there a particular character, image, or idea that inspired Lost in the Forest?

Sue Miller: There were multiple sources of inspiration for Lost in the Forest. I had written a short story some years ago about Mark and Eva, a short story I never published, as it seemed somehow incomplete in my own mind. It focused on Mark and his dream of getting Eva back after the death of her second husband. It ended with the scene in the book when Theo suddenly remembers his father’s death, remembers him as flying at that moment, and Mark realizes from Eva’s response to Theo that his hopes are utterly futile. Sometime after this, I was talking to the father of some kids I’d known from day care, asking him what had become of them, now twenty-five years later. And in thinking about those kids, and my own son, now an adult in his thirties, I began to ponder the way we were so absorbed in ourselves, we parents-who-divorced and were busy leading our own chaotic lives. I began to think about how our children might have been affected by all that. I began to think about my story about Mark and Eva, and how there might be reverberations in their kids’ lives in response to all the events that also disturbed them so much. And in thinking about all this, and pondering how to make a longer tale out of my short story, I reread What Maisie Knew, Henry James’s short novel about a child of divorce, of callous, fortune-hunting parents in Europe, and the way they expose their daughter to life through their carelessness about her. I thought about how interesting it would be to transpose this to the late twentieth century, to parents who think of themselves as conscientious, who know a great deal about child-rearing, and who still expose at least one of their children to difficulty.

JMG: The book’s point of view shifts between Daisy, Mark, and Eva. Why did you choose to have these different voices as the driving forces of the narrative? Did you ever consider structuring the book in a different way, and if so, how?

SM: I started with Mark because that’s how my story started, though I knew it would come around slowly to focusing on Daisy. I felt I needed Eva’s perspective, too, to explain fully how Daisy became invisible to her parents, in a certain sense. I wanted the trajectory of the book to be unpredictable, surprising, in the same way that the experience was unpredictable and surprising to Mark. I wanted it to echo the way he woke up from his own story and became aware that he was involved involuntarily and unconsciously in another story–Daisy’s.

JMG: Daisy mentions a feeling of being “lost in the forest,” like the heroine of one of the fairy tales her family spins for Theo. What other meanings of “lost in the forest” did you hope to evoke? Were there other titles that you considered and then abandoned?

SM: Even the title of the short story was “Lost in the Forest,” and in the short story, Daisy is a minor character. I thought of the title as applying fully to Mark, then, well before it applied to Daisy. In fact, I think it applies to all the characters. I think it’s an apt metaphor for life, for the sense of lostness we all have periodically in life, the sense of wishing for someone else, some event, some person, some religious impulse, as in Eva’s case, to help give our lives meaning. I never considered another title.

JMG: Fairy tales–from those told at Eva’s kitchen table to Daisy’s notion of her father as “rescuer”–are motifs that weave beautifully throughout the book. While you were writing, did you envision Daisy as the heroine in a fable or fairy tale? Did you read particular fairy tales while you were working on Lost in the Forest?

SM: I reread some of the Grimms’ fairy tales, particularly Hansel and Gretel, as that one is in many ways like the fairy tale that the family tells Theo. And I did, very much, think of Daisy as being a character in such a tale; though as I indicated above, I also thought of Mark in that way, too, his forest perhaps being the illusions he has about Eva, the notion that if only he can win her back, he will live happily ever after.

JMG: Eva thinks, “She wants life. More. More of something. She doesn’t know what” (p. 73). How does this yearning inform Eva’s actions after John’s death? How does such a yearning also influence the novel’s other key characters, including Gracie, Daisy, Emily, and Mark?

SM: Certainly Eva is desperately lonely after John’s death, and her willingness to use Mark as a source of comfort in this period is part of what confuses him about his possibilities. Indeed, she momentarily considers some kind of relationship with him, but pretty quickly dismisses the possibility. But I think of this yearning as also more inchoate in Eva, and as connected to the kinds of yearning Mark has, and Daisy, too–to be rescued, to be made happy by some event, some arrival in her life. So in a certain sense, I think of this state of yearning as part of the lostness of the book’s title, and of all the characters.

JMG: What about Duncan intrigues Daisy? What other attributes does he possess that might be attractive to her, and how does he repel her? In turn, what does Daisy represent to Duncan?

SM: Daisy is initially drawn to Duncan simply because he pays attention to her–momentarily, he actually reminds her of her stepfather, John. He also lets her feel, for the first time, her sexuality, her attractiveness, which none of the other adults in her life have noticed, or let her know they’ve noticed. In addition, he doesn’t have a story, as Daisy notes. She needn’t feel much for or about Duncan–he’s a kind of tabula rasa, a fantasy figure. For a while. It’s when she starts understanding that of course he does have a story, even if he hasn’t shared it with her, that she begins to be repelled by him. What Daisy represents to Duncan is more mysterious. It’s never clear in the book what’s driving him, and I didn’t feel I needed to make that clear. She is, of course, lovely, and he sees that–and perhaps understands that no one else yet has. He catches her in a moment of perversity–stealing from her mother– and her response to his catching her is defiant and brave, in a way. These qualities in her interest him, clearly. Why they result in his seducing her is something I didn’t think I needed to explore. Or I thought that exploring it would take me too far from my main characters.

JMG: Teenage Daisy is compelled by the writers Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. What about these two authors resonates with her? Were there any authors who spoke to you in a similar way when you were Daisy’s age?

SM: Certainly Plath’s rage, particularly her rage at her father for dying, the sense of herself as in pain, and the intensity of her poetry–all these would echo Daisy’s own sense of herself and her world. I think with Dickinson, it’s clearly the use of language that intrigues and delights Daisy, the surprising way she expresses things Daisy has perhaps thought about but not had words for. For myself at that age, there were fewer direct connections with writers I was taught–I remember reading Melville in high school with not much sense of recognition. But I read Jane Eyre on my own, over and over, actually, thrilled at the sense of a slow making of a self out of unlikely materials, and at Jane’s triumph over all adversity.

JMG: Daisy believes she is “collateral damage” in her parents’ relationship (p. 243). Do you think that her assessment is correct? Do Theo and Emily avoid feeling similarly in their places within the family structure? If so, how?

SM: I wanted to have Daisy be uniquely vulnerable to the events in her family’s life. Her shyness, her unattractiveness at the moment of the story, her greater vulnerability to her parents’ divorce and the birth of Theo, her greater devastation at John’s death–all these mean that she is very fragile, very in need at exactly the moment when her parents, too, are most fragile and in need. I think Theo and Emily do avoid similar feelings, though they certainly have complicated reactions, too, to family events. Theo’s denial of his father’s death, his hoarding money–these might be interesting to a child psychiatrist investigating his grief. And Emily’s sexuality, her perhaps too ready turn to support from the outside world, may not be as healthy a pair of responses as they seem. But each of them does, truly, have resources that Daisy doesn’t, and they suffer less because of this.

JMG: Smatterings of the adult Daisy are sprinkled throughout the book, particularly in her references to Dr. Gerard. What made you decide to imbue some of Daisy’s narrative voice with the knowledge of how things turn out? Why do you allow a decade to elapse between the second-to-last and the final chapter of the novel?

SM: I think my impulse was to answer the question of how this affected Daisy, how she thought of it later, during the experience, so that the reader wouldn’t bring to those passages in the book the standard, the expected responses; but would already be having to think about this experience exactly as it affected just this one character–Daisy. The decade’s lapse had to do with my sense that the step-by-step rapprochement between Mark and Daisy, the step-by-step emergence of Daisy as a resourceful adult, could both be largely implicit in how she “turns out,” as it were. Or turns out for this moment, anyway. And with my own fascination with how people do turn out, as seen years later.

JMG: By the end of the book, do you think Daisy–and her family–have truly entered a “brave new world” as Miranda says in Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest? Why or why not?

SM: It seems to me that Miranda’s cry has to do with her own newness in the world, her innocent amazement at it, rather than at some quality the world itself has. What I wanted to signal was that Daisy had somehow retained some sense of that innocence in spite of the experience she has with Duncan, which some would assume would have been damaging to that sense. And I think it could be said of the others–Mark and Eva–that they, too, have emerged from the part of their lives I record with a sense of hopefulness in one way or another.

JMG: Do you have any special routines or rituals you adhere to while you’re writing that help to bring inspiration and creativity? What are they?

SM: I try to write regularly when I’m working on a book, and I write in longhand for the first draft. There’s something very provisional about this that’s helpful to me–I feel, I think, that it doesn’t have to be the final version, or even close to it. I can just try. And I often turn to certain prose stylists very different from myself for a kind of inspiration, for a sense of what’s excitingly possible in writing. It isn’t that I could ever write as they do, or even want to, but simply that their writing thrills me. The Children’s Bach, by Helen Garner; McKay’s Bees, by Thomas McMahon; A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes; The Republic of Love, by Carol Shields; Open Secrets, by Alice Munro–any of these can make me feel eager to begin.

JMG: Is there anything in particular that you’re working on right now? What can your readers look forward to seeing from you next?

SM: I’m writing another novel, due in to my publishers in the fall of 2006. Its working title is A Private Life.

Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. Lost in the Forest opens with John’s death, a pivotal turning point for all the characters. How does each of them grapple with this loss differently? What does John represent to each of the children?

2. What does the title Lost in the Forest mean to you? Who, in the story, is lost? How is this image of a forest juxtaposed with the valley and vineyards of Napa?

3. Daisy’s name is a very evocative one. In what ways is she like a flower waiting to bloom at the outset of the book? How does she bloom, and how does she wilt?

4. Early in the book, Mark refers to himself as “damaged goods” (p. 44). How does this mind-set affect his relationships with Eva, Emily, and Daisy? Who else in the novel might characterize him-or herself as damaged goods, and why?

5. Mark describes his early years of marriage with Eva as “further stumbling.” How does the pair grow together? In what ways do they complement each other, and how are they not a good match?

6. Why does Eva react to Mark’s affair so violently? Do you think she is justified or unjustified? Do you think that Gracie’s assessment of why Mark tells Eva about his affair is valid? Why or why not?

7. How is Eva’s relationship with John more of a rational decision about love? Do you think that makes it more or less powerful than the passionate connection she shares with Mark? Why does Mark decide he wants Eva back?

8. On their first meeting, John asks Eva if a person drawn to books was seeking a kind of experience not available in ordinary life (p. 80). How would you answer this question?

9. How does Daisy resent Emily? How does she somehow feel superior toward her? How does Theo play into this dynamic?

10. Mark leaves Nebraska to “escape his role” in his family. How does Eva do something similar? How are both successful and unsuccessful in the quest to shake away the past? What of this legacy is passed along to their two daughters, and to Eva and John’s son, Theo?

11. How does Daisy’s relationship with both her father figures– Mark and John–seem similar to and different from that of Miranda and Prospero in The Tempest? How does each father shelter his daughter in markedly different ways?

12. How do Eva, Mark, and Daisy each express their yearning for belief? What roads do each of them take to find a meaning of life beyond their own existences?

13. What compels Daisy to take money from her mother’s bookstore? How do you think it changes her? Why does she hide it, but not spend it? In what ways do her action enable Duncan to gain an initial hold over her?

14. When do you think that Daisy eventually realizes that her relationship with Duncan is dangerous and abusive? Do you think that her affair with Duncan empowers her in any way?

15. “Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love,” Duncan says to Daisy (p. 154). Why do you think Duncan shares such a cynical attitude with Daisy? How does it affect Daisy in the short term? The long term?

16. Why does discovering evidence of Duncan and Daisy’s affair change Mark’s life? Why do you think that Mark never confronts Duncan explicitly? What about the situation makes him anguished (p. 226)?

17. In what ways is Mark a rescuer? How does Daisy also rescue him?

18. Daisy becomes an actress, not the writer she predicts, when she “grows up.” How does this choice represent a shift in her personality? How is it a natural choice for her, and how is it surprising?

19. Daisy says that “the oldest I want to be is about twenty-five.” When the book ends, she is approximately that age. Do you think she agrees with Mark that everything good happens after that? How do you envision her adolescence and early adulthood, which we do not see in the book?

20. At the end of the book, Mark says he is happy. How is this different from the contentment that his mother says she feels? Do you believe that the other people who are important to him have also found happiness? What, to you, defines happiness?

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