“Clear your schedule for an addicting read. Then and Always is a twisty, romantic, keep-you-guessing story about the kind of love you never forget.”—National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti, author of He’s Gone
Looking for your next book club read? We have advance reader’s copies of THEN AND ALWAYS by Dani Atkins for you to enjoy before the trade paperback original hits bookshelves in May.
For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life…just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.
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For readers of Rules of Civility and The Marriage Plot, Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance is an engrossing novel of passion, friendship, betrayal, and class—and their reverberations across generations.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Compare the changes in Murray Cantowitz’s neighborhood and in Fishers Island throughout the four parts of the novel. Why is this difference important? How does this dichotomy relate to larger themes of the book?
2. Discuss Connie’s role in the novel. What does she symbolize for Ed? Why is she important?
3. How are Rebecca and Vivi similar to their parents? How are they different? Does their resemblance to their parents remind you of anyone in your life?
4. Photography is a recurring theme throughout the novel. How does it connect the characters? What else connects the characters throughout the generations in the story?
5. Why is the scene where Hugh cuts o! his “ngers so striking for Rebecca? What do you think about their relationship?
6. There are a few points throughout the novel where Ed realizes that, depending on his actions, his entire life could have evolved differently. What are these points? Do life-changing moments exist in your life?
7. On page 33, the president of the club tells Hugh “man is tribal.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
8. For years, Ed continues to love Helen despite all odds. Do you think this type of prolonged unrequited love is possible? What does it mean that Ed is able to cut Hugh out of his life, but not his love for Helen?
9. At the end of the novel, we learn that Rebecca and Vivi have found out about Ed and Helen’s relationship. Do you think that Hugh ever learns the truth?
10. How different are Hugh and Ed from the beginning to the end of the novel? How do they change, if at all?
11. If you had to write a sequel, what would happen next?
12. Of all the themes in the novel— friendship, upbringing, family, love, etc.— which resonates the most with you? Why?
13. After reading this novel, how important do you think inheritance is? What are your thoughts on dual inheritance theory? Have Ed and Hugh challenged your understanding?
Yiyun Li, author of KINDER THAN SOLITUDE, shares her top 5 favorite books that she likes to reread. Are any of these on your reread list? Share your top 5 with us on Facebook!
Five Books that I Reread
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
There are so many reasons to read War and Peace, and the only reason not to read it is that it is long and requires patience. However, the payoff is incredible. For instance, Tolstoy never said a word about the winter’s approaching or the French being unprepared. Rather, he described a young French drummer sticking his hands into his pockets when he exited the camp. And the readers feel the chill of death coming to the French army.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
In a letter Hemingway said The old Man and the Sea can be read as an epilogue of all the books he’d written. And it is a perfect novella, not an extra word included.
Reading Turgenev by William Trevor
It is a novel about reading and how reading preserves people’s imagination and integrity in the direst moment of life.
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
This is not Bowen’s favorite novel; she even called it an inflated short story, but I think she might be wrong. It is a domestic novel, without a war or a physical struggle but in the end the battleground in a house may be more devastating.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre seems a good novel to be reread every five years or ten years. It is accessible to readers of different ages, and at different age we learn different things. This recent reading, I noticed that there were passages about how time passed, which I had missed as a younger reader.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs—Barbara O’Neal’s new novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness.
Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?
There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.
“A fun, fast, page-turning action-adventure . . . the exhilarating journey of two pioneering women, Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, as they race around the globe.”—Karen Abbott, author of American Rose
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In the book’s prologue Matthew Goodman writes, “Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland were not only racing around the world; they were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.” What do you think he meant by this? In what way did Bly and Bisland’s race illustrate some of the larger social issues of the time?
2. In what ways were Elizabeth and Nellie similar, and in what ways were they dissimilar? Did they have differing views of themselves as women, as writers, as Americans? How might this have colored their attitudes about the around-the-world race?
3. Almost every story of the time mentioned the fact that Nellie Bly carried only a single handbag for her trip around the world. How do you think you would pack for such a trip? What would you consider the essentials to bring along?
4. How might other female journalists of the time have viewed Bly and Bisland’s race around the world? Do you think they would have been supportive or critical?
5. Throughout the book Goodman intersperses the narrative of the race with discussions of historical issues—such as the hardships faced by women journalists, the power of the railroads, and the working conditions of stokers on the steamships. Why do you think he did this? Did you feel that this added to or detracted from the book as a whole?
6. Did you find yourself rooting for one of the women to win the race? Which of the women would you rather have as a traveling companion? In what ways would you say each of the women changed over the course of the race?
7. How do you think that Nellie Bly’s difficult childhood might have helped to shape some of the choices she made as an adult?
8. Eighty Days is an example of the genre called “narrative history”—that is to say, a work of history that adopts some of the techniques generally associated with fiction writing. In what ways does this book read like a novel? How was Matthew Goodman able to accomplish this? Did you ever find yourself momentarily forgetting that it was a true story?
9. Visiting the Tanks of Aden in the moonlight, Elizabeth Bisland has a profound moment in which she comes to understand what the trip has given her: “the vividness of a new world, where one was for the first time, as Tennyson had written, Lord of the senses five, where the light of night and day had a new meaning, where years of indifference could fall away like a dried-up husk and every sense respond with the keenness of faculties newborn.” Have you ever had an experience like that while traveling? Which of the places described in the book would you most like to visit?
10. The very first story that Bly proposed to The World was to sail across the Atlantic in steerage, so that she could report firsthand on the conditions endured by the passengers there. Yet during her around-the-world race, when she had the opportunity, she did not write about steerage passengers. Why do you think this was? Do you think that she had changed as a journalist, and if so, in what ways?
11. Might Eighty Days be viewed as a kind of cautionary tale about celebrity? How so?
12. The book’s epilogue describes the very different lives led by Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland in the decades after the race. Were you surprised by the way that things turned out for them? Why or why not? How would you answer the question posed about Nellie Bly at the end of the final chapter: “She had outraced Elizabeth Bisland; but now, looking back, it was not entirely clear which of them had won.”
13. The story told in Eighty Days took place more than 120 years ago. An around-the-world trip that once required two and a half months to complete could be accomplished today in a matter of days. Are there other ways in which society has changed far less dramatically since 1889?
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