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Posts Tagged ‘women’s fiction’

Reader’s Guide: Q&A with Nancy Horan, author of UNDER THE WIDE AND STARRY SKY

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

978-0-345-51654-1Nancy Horan’s newest book, Under the Wide and Starry Sky, is now available in paperback! The book tells the improbable love story of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny. Joining her for the Q&A is Lauren Belfer, author of the novels A Fierce Radiance (a Washington Post Best Novel of the Year, an NPR Best Mystery of the Year, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice Book) and City of Light (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times bestseller).

Lauren Belfer: When I first heard that Under the Wide and Starry Sky was about Robert Louis Stevenson, I thought—perfect, I’ll be spending time with an old friend. Was I ever wrong about that! Under the Wide and Starry Sky captures a Stevenson I never imagined and a story I never knew, a story that’s filled with adventure, anguish, and heartbreak. How did you discover the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne?

Nancy Horan: was visiting the Monterey Bay area and discovered that Stevenson had lived there in 1879. I wondered what the Scottish author of Treasure Island was doing there. I soon learned that he had come to California seeking to marry an American woman he had met in France. Naturally I was curious about the woman. Who was this Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne who so upended Stevenson’s life? I did some initial research about both of them, and when I learned about their amazing life together, I knew I had the concept for my next novel.

LB: Many readers wonder about the line between fact and fiction in “historical fiction.” When letters, journals, and diaries are available, do you quote the actual words of your characters, the way a biographer might? Do you have any personal rules to guide you, when you put real people into scenes and conversations that are imaginary?

NH: My general rule is that because these were real people, I try to get it as right as I can. I feel I owe it to them. I stick to agreed-upon facts as a framework, because it was the historical story that drew me in the first place. The dialogue is invented, except for a few quotes. When I use these lines I put them into the mouths of the people who spoke them. If I quote from a diary or letter, I put it in italics, and if it is more than a couple of sentences, I make note of it in the Afterword. Because Louis was a prolific letter writer and Fanny was a diary keeper, I was sometimes able to write dialogue informed by how the characters were feeling at the time. But people are not always forthcoming in their written correspondence or diaries. Even with the rich resource material available for this book, much interpretation and imagining took place.

Read the rest of their Q&A here, and connect with Nancy on Facebook!

Giveaway Opportunity: A WEDDING IN PROVENCE by Ellen Sussman

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Sussman_Wedding in Provence Attention readers! Ellen Sussman, author of French Lessons, has a new novel coming out this summer! If you can’t wait until July 15th for A Wedding in Provence, then enter below for your chance to be a lucky winner of an Advance Reader’s Edition of this moving novel of love, forgiveness, and trust, set among the beaches and vineyards of southern France.

Enter here for your chance to win!

When Olivia and Brody drive up to their friend’s idyllic inn—nestled in a valley in the Mediterranean town of Cassis—they know they’ve chosen the perfect spot for their wedding. The ceremony will be held in the lush garden, and the reception will be a small party of only their closest family and friends. But when Olivia and Brody’s guests check in, their peaceful wedding weekend is quickly thrown off balance.

The first to arrive is Nell, Olivia’s oldest daughter from her first marriage. Impulsive and reckless, she invites a complete stranger—an enigmatic man who is both alluring and a bit dangerous—to be her guest at the wedding. The next is Carly, Olivia’s youngest daughter, the responsible and pragmatic one. Away from her demanding job and a strained relationship, she feels an urgent need to cut loose—and for once do something brash and unpredictable. Then there is Jake, Brody’s playboy best man, and Fanny, Brody’s mother, who is coping with the fallout of her own marriage. And in the middle of it all is Olivia, navigating the dramas, joys, and pitfalls of planning a wedding and starting a new life.

A delicious, compelling, and utterly enchanting novel, A Wedding in Provence captures the complex and enduring bonds of family, and our boundless faith in love.

Enter here for your chance to win!

“Utterly charming and wildly romantic.”—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

Find Ellen on Facebook and Twitter!

Giveaway Opportunity: LOVE LETTERS by Debbie Macomber

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Macomber_Love Letters Oh, dear readers! We have a treat for you! Enter here and at the link below for your chance to win an advance copy of Love Letters by Debbie Macomber. This latest Rose Harbor Novel celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.

For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.

Enter here for your chance to win!

Reader’s Guide: NEVER SAY GOODBYE by Susan Lewis

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Lewis_Never Say Goodbye Susan Lewis delivers a deeply moving novel in Never Say Goodbye about finding friendship and love in the most unexpected of places. If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenjauf, or Elizabeth Flock then this just may be the perfect read for your book club. Below are the questions and topics for discussion.

For more information, stay up to date with Susan on her Facebook and Twitter.

Questions and Topics for Discussion:

1. How would Josie’s life have been different if she had been able to tell her family about her condition immediately? Do you think her life would have been better or worse if she had?

2. Have you ever had a secret you felt you had to keep from those closest to you in order to protect them? How did you deal with it?

3. Did you relate to one of the two main characters, Josie and Bel, more than the other? Which one, and why?

4. Why did Josie take her husband, Jeff, back after he cheated on her? Did he deserve it? Would you have done the same? Do you think he redeemed himself in the end?

5. Bel is upset when Nick and Kristina get married so soon after the death of her sister, which puts her off to a rocky start with Kristina. What brings Bel and Kristina together in the end?

6. Do you think Josie’s son, Ryan, actually committed the crime he was accused of?

7. Why does Bel push Harry away?

8. In what ways do Bel and Josie complement each other? Do you think they would have discovered a friendship if horrible circumstances hadn’t thrust them together? Has their friendship changed them by the end of the book?

9. Which of the many themes of the novel (friendship, family ties, love, and loss, among others) struck you as most important?

10. Were you surprised by the ending? What did you think would happen?

11. Did you learn anything you didn’t know before about breast cancer because of reading the novel? Did the book change your thinking in any way?

12. How did Bel’s volunteer work affect her life? Have you ever volunteered with or would you ever consider volunteer- ing with an organization like Breast Cancer Care?

Reader’s Guide: PERFECT by Rachel Joyce

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Joyce_PerfectPerfect is one of the best book club picks for 2014.

This spellbinding novel from Rachel Joyce, the author who brought you The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, will resonate with readers of Mark Haddon, Louise Erdrich, and John Irving. Perfect tells the story of a young boy who is thrown into the murky, difficult realities of the adult world with far-reaching consequences.

Perfect is a poignant and powerful book, rich with empathy and charged with beautiful, atmospheric writing.”—Tana French, author of In the Woods and Broken Harbor

We have the book club questions to get your chat started. Trust us, you’ll have a lot to talk about with this one!

1. The attempt to achieve perfection is central to both Diana’s and Byron’s behavior. Has the novel changed your perception of what it may mean to be ‘perfect’?

2. Rachel Joyce portrays time as a slippery and unpredictable concept. Has this affected your attitude towards the ways in which we measure the paths of our lives?

3. Responsibility is a theme that plays a key part in the novel. Who do you believe holds the greatest responsibility for the accident?

4. Is Jim’s mental illness the inevitable result of the events of his childhood?

5. Diana says, ‘I’m beginning to think chaos is underrated.’ Do you agree?

6. Byron identifies the moment at which he no longer considers himself to be a child. How does the novel question traditional definitions of childhood and parenthood?

7. Rachel Joyce writes beautiful descriptions of Cranham Moor and the English landscape. What is the significance of the natural world in the novel?

8. What is the significance of class in the relationship between Beverley and Diana?

9. Several characters struggle with depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior in the novel. How effectively do you feel mental disorders are portrayed?

10. Diana believes that the course of her life is determined by destiny. What part does spiritual belief play in the novel, and do you agree that our actions cannot influence our own fates?

11. Seymour and Andrea Lowe express strong views about feminism. How does Rachel Joyce represent the role of women in the novel?

12. How does Rachel Joyce represent the different time periods of the novel? Are there echoes from 1972 in the present or is it a world and time that has disappeared without trace?

13. Diana is lonely despite having a family and friends; Jim experiences intense loneliness. What do you think makes people feel connected to each other, and what creates fulfilling relationships?

14. Byron and James Lowe are best friends as boys, and the employees at Mr Meade’s café form bonds of kinship. How does Rachel Joyce represent friendship, and what do you think it means to be a true friend?
Who is the most powerful character in the novel, and why?

15. Eileen and Jim are damaged, in different ways, by their pasts. To what extent do you feel their private pain is transformed through the act of sharing?

Connect with Rachel on Facebook!

Giveaway Opportunity: A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS by Nancy Thayer

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Thayer_Nantucket Christmas The holidays are right around the corner, so now is the perfect time of year to curl up with a favorite holiday book (or author)! This year, we are excited to read New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer’s A Nantucket Christmas. We have some copies to share, so enter below for your chance to win!

Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, and the season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.

But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arm’s length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband.

Nancy Thayer’s wonderful tale reminds us that this is the season of miracles. Before the gifts are unwrapped, surprise visitors appear, and holiday joy comes to all, both naughty and nice.

Reader’s Guide: A Q&A with Anna Quindlen, author of STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Quindlen_Still Life with Bread CrumbsAnna Quindlen is beloved by all readers and book clubs alike! From her “Last Word” column in Newsweek to her irresistible New York Times bestselling books such as Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and One True Thing (to name a few!), Quindlen has truly captured the minds of of her readers.

We are so happy to share this Q&A between Anna Quindlen and Kate Medina, her editor, with you in anticipation of her upcoming novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs is your seventh novel. You write both bestselling fiction and nonfiction. How are the processes different for you, if they are? How do you decide which one to write next?

I always mean to sound purposeful when we talk about things like that, but it’s all pretty unexamined and intuitive. My last nonfiction book, the memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, came to life with an off handed comment I’d made to my daughter and a piece of data I stumbled across when writing my last Newsweek column. I’d been very satisfied writing novels, and I had no intention of moving back into nonfiction. Right now I’m juggling a novel in its nascent stages and a nonfiction book, as you know, and the most obvious difference is that on the first, I eventually plunged right into the writing, and on the second I’m still doing the reporting. Sometimes the reporting is an excuse not to write; other times it is such an aid to composition because, unlike the material in the novels, it is in your notes or on tape, doesn’t have to be excavated from the sometimes hard rock of imagination.

People love to know where the inspiration for a novel comes from. Would you say something about Still Life with Bread Crumbs in this regard?

It’s not one thing. It’s never one thing. I’ve thought a lot about the nature of art, and why women’s art, particularly if it arises from domestic life, is minimized, or denigrated—why, for instance, we pay less attention to the work of Alice McDermott, a genius miniaturist whose novels reflect the quiet everyday, then we do to the more sprawling, outward-facing work of Philip Roth. Some of my thinking on that is embodied in Rebecca’s photography and public reaction to it. I’m 61 years old, and I’ve thought a lot about aging, and the stages of a woman’s life, and that’s in there, too. From a purely mechanical point of view, I try to do some essential thing in each novel that I haven’t done before. In this book it was twofold: I’ve never written a love story, and I haven’t written a book with a happy ending, and this material lent itself to both. Anna-Quindlen-Author-Photo

We’ve been working together for 25 years, on a wide range of your books—fiction, nonfiction, memoir. We are both often asked about the editorial process between writer and editor. Might you comment briefly about that process? What is the heart of it for you?

Oh, Kate, you broke me in. I cringe when I remember the first draft of Object Lessons. You said the writing was lovely, and the characters memorable, but not much happened in the course of the book. And I replied, “That’s how real life is.” You said, so sweetly, “And that’s why we call this a novel.”

The heart of the editing process is a fresh pair of sensitive and informed eyes. By the time I’m done a draft, I have no clue. Is it the best thing I’ve ever done? Is it a complete disaster? Depends on which day you ask me. But more than that, I am so close to the material that I not only can’t get out of the weeds, I can’t figure out where they are. That’s where you come in. You read and read again and then send me your long memo, which always begins “I love this book!” Then come the buts—about murky character development, fallow areas, missed opportunities. I’m not going to go into detail and thus illuminate my own dopiness, but sometimes you ask a question about something I’ve done, or failed to do, and I want to smack myself in the head, it’s so obvious.

Of course, a critical part of this process is the trust between us. You speak fluent Quindlen and you don’t try to edit me into someone else. And once our dialogue begins, I become more confident about my own work in that I know where you are right about changes, cuts, amendments, and where I disagree and will leave well enough alone.

Join the conversation with Anna on Facebook!

Reader’s Guide: THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU by Susan Lewis

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Lewis_The Truth About YouThe Truth About You by international bestselling author Susan Lewis is perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, and Elizabeth Flock. This novel of secrets and suspenses challenges the ties that bind—while reigniting the hope of enduring love. Here at Random House Reader’s Circle, we have the exclusive book club questions for you and your friends to enjoy!

If you’ve ready read the book, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. From the beginning of the novel, Stacy and Lainey seem to have a closer relationship than that of Lainey with her own sisters. What do you think draws them together?

2. What do you make of the connection between Peter and his dog, Sherman? What does Sherman symbolize? What do you think Sherman’s steadfast loyalty meant to Peter as his dementia worsened?

3. Tierney and Guy’s relationship was risky from the beginning. When do you think Tierney became uncomfortable with what was happening? Do you think she should have told her mother when matters worsened? What can a mother do to prepare her daughter for situations like this or protect her from them?

4. Despite Tom’s absence, Lainey refused to change her plans to go to Italy. Why? Was it a dedication to discovering the truth? A need to find somewhere to belong? Retaliation? Or something else?

5. How did Skye and Tierney’s friendship transform throughout the novel? What were the most influential moments?

6. Before Tom’s relationship with Kirsten and Julia is revealed, Max is very alienated from the Hollingsworth family, especially Lainey. Yet by the end of the book he is closer than ever. What changed?

7. Do you think that Lainey’s discovery about her father was for the best? What was your reaction when she found out? What would you have done if you were in Lainey’s position?

8. Why did Tom want his family to learn about Julia’s condition on their own? Do you think if he had told them earlier they would have responded differently to the situation?

9. As the novel progresses, similarities between Alessandra, Lainey, and Tierney start to become apparent. What are these? Does this remind you of anything in your own family?

10. Divorce is a common theme throughout the novel. What do you think the author might be saying about divorce and its effects on a family, particularly via Stacy, Skye, and Nadia?

11. There are many life–changing secrets throughout this novel, but only some are disclosed. Why do you think some remain hidden? Is secrecy ever better than honesty? If so, how should you decide which secrets are better left untold?

12. Throughout the novel, Lainey relies on words to express her emotions, while Tom instead chooses action. Is one better than the other? Would things have happened differently if Tom had been more plainspoken or Lainey less effusive with her words?

13. There were many themes throughout the novel—-secrecy, adultery, family, trust, etc. Which theme resonated most strongly with you?

Reader’s Guide: THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU by Susan Lewis

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Lewis_The Truth About YouThe Truth About You is for readers of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, and Elizabeth Flock comes a novel of secrets and suspense that challenges the ties that bind—while reigniting the hope of enduring love.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. From the beginning of the novel, Stacy and Lainey seem to have a closer relationship than that of Lainey with her own sisters. What do you think draws them together?

2. What do you make of the connection between Peter and his dog, Sherman? What does Sherman symbolize? What do you think Sherman’s steadfast loyalty meant to Peter as his dementia worsened?

3. Tierney and Guy’s relationship was risky from the beginning. When do you think Tierney became uncomfortable with what was happening? Do you think she should have told her mother when matters worsened? What can a mother do to prepare her daughter for situations like this or protect her from them?

4. Despite Tom’s absence, Lainey refused to change her plans to go to Italy. Why? Was it a dedication to discovering the truth? A need to find somewhere to belong? Retaliation? Or something else?

5. How did Skye and Tierney’s friendship transform throughout the novel? What were the most influential moments?

6. Before Tom’s relationship with Kirsten and Julia is revealed, Max is very alienated from the Hollingsworth family, especially Lainey. Yet by the end of the book he is closer than ever. What changed?

7. Do you think that Lainey’s discovery about her father was for the best? What was your reaction when she found out? What would you have done if you were in Lainey’s position?

8. Why did Tom want his family to learn about Julia’s condition on their own? Do you think if he had told them earlier they would have responded differently to the situation?

9. As the novel progresses, similarities between Alessandra, Lainey, and Tierney start to become apparent. What are these? Does this remind you of anything in your own family?

10. Divorce is a common theme throughout the novel. What do you think the author might be saying about divorce and its effects on a family, particularly via Stacy, Skye, and Nadia?

11. There are many life-changing secrets throughout this novel, but only some are disclosed. Why do you think some remain hidden? Is secrecy ever better than honesty? If so, how should you decide which secrets are better left untold?

12. Throughout the novel, Lainey relies on words to express her emotions, while Tom instead chooses action. Is one better than the other? Would things have happened differently if Tom had been more plainspoken or Lainey less effusive with her words?

13. There were many themes throughout the novel—secrecy, adultery, family, trust, etc. Which theme resonated most strongly with you?

Giveaway Opportunity: DON’T LET ME GO and NO CHILD OF MINE by Susan Lewis

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 10.16.01 AM We have a special giveaway opportunity for our fellow Random House Reader’s Circle members today! Enter below for your chance to win a Susan Lewis book bundle that includes a finished copy of No Child of Mine and an advanced reader’s copy of Don’t Let Me Go. If you love Jodi Picoult then you’ll love these international bestselling novels.

“Unputdownable . . . a compelling blend of family dynamics, courtroom drama, and love story.”—Booklist

“Susan Lewis’s storyline is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. . . . Susan writes with sensitivity, compassion and hope.”—Fresh Fiction

Join the conversation with Susan Lewis on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit her website for more books news, a Q&A, and event information.

Enter below for your chance to win!

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