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Book Club Kit

QUESTIONS FOR
discussion
1. Did you have a favorite Wilde sister? Why or
why not? Did the sisters remind you of your own
siblings?

2. How does the novel portray family? Does sister-


hood for the Wilde sisters differ from how it is for
Romy and Bella? Does the sisterhood bond differ 6. Margot thinks Applecote Manor was summer
from brotherhood or from the bond between sib- (p.38). How does visiting Perry and Sybil change
lings of different genders? If so, how and why? the Wilde girls? Did a place you went as a child
offer you a similar sense of freedom? Do you re-
3. The novel asks us to consider how far we would member a particular summer in which you think
go to protect those we love. Were you surprised your life changed?
by the decisions the Wilde sisters make? Margot
thinks they are bonded by blood (p. 2). Do you 7. Jessie feels as though she was destined to live at
think the sisters committed a crime? If so, are Applecote, and Margot also feels a lifelong bond
they all equally guilty? with the property. Have you ever been drawn to a
place? Why do you think the house calls to Jessie
4. When talking about Sybil, Moll tells Margot, Like the way it does? Is its pull different for Margot?
I believe in the Good Lord, she believes in Audrey
(p. 194). What does Moll mean? Discuss the role of 8. Jessie and Will believe that Applecote Manor may
faith in the novel. How does Sybils faith in Audrey be a gentler, more benign place than London, a
shape her character? What does Margot have faith city that forces girls to grow up too fast, strips
in? What about Jessie? them of their innocence (p. 3). Do you agree with
their decision to move the girls? How does the
5. Margot misses Audrey terribly at the beginning of house prove their expectations wrong? Have you
the novel, but as the summer progresses, her rela- ever moved somewhere in hopes of achieving a
tionship to Audrey seems to change as well. What different lifestyle?
does Audreys friendship mean to Margot? Why do
you think Margot goes along with Sybils fantasy? 9. As the summer goes on, Margot notices that Sybil
How does pretending to be Audrey change Margot? and Perry are really one system, redistributing
their appetites, that the marriage that once looked
so dead may actually be alive at the roots (p. 202).
How does the novel portray marriage? How does
marriage for Sybil and Perry differ from marriage
for Jessie and Will, or for Will and Mandy?

10. Were you surprised by Harrys confession to M


argot?
Why or why not? How do you feel about the way
Audreys story ends?
A C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H
Eve Chase
The Wildling Sisters is your as more competitive. (And
second novel. How was writ- giving far better opportuni-
ing this story different from ties for borrowing clothes!)
writing Black Rabbit Hall? I wanted to draw the Wilde
The plot of Black Rabbit Hall sisters as individuals, as the
had been percolating for sisters Id like to have, each
quite a while before I wrote one alive on the page.
the book, so it was ready to
slip onto the page. The Wild- There are many rich char-
ling Sisters had to be dreamt acters in this novel. Did you
up and written without such have a favorite to write?
a long gestation, which was That would have to be Pam,
harder. That said, I knew early the stroppy, opinionated sis-

2015 Clare Borg-Cook


on that I very much wanted to ter, always the loudest per-
write about four sisters and son in the room, even when
their tight, combative sense shes silent. She gets the
of sisterhood, as well as the sharpest one-liners. I know
fifties era. that in real life Id warm to
Pam, simply because she
What inspired you to write cant be anyone but herself.
this story? Did you think of Theres something very en-
one of the story lines before dearing about that.
the other?
Audreys storyher vanishingis at the knotted heart of Is there a real-life A pplecote Manor? Why did you place
the book, the mystery that the main character, Margot (like, it in the C otswolds? What defines that area?
I hope, the reader!), wants to solve. Im not sure why I was Theres no real Applecote Manor. While Ive kept the pre-
so haunted by Audrey, only that the fear of a child simply cise location quite vaguethe village is fictionalizedthe
disappearing is primal. Most mothers, me included, have novel is set in a very idyllic part of the Cotswolds, a quint-
experienced that moment of distractionquickly followed essentially English landscape, very lush, gentle and an-
by gut-clamping fearwhen they glance around the su- cient. I went on a wild swimming weekend there with some
permarket or the park and cant see their child. The world girlfriends a few years ago, and the bucolic river, the sum-
simply stops at that instant and doesnt start up until they mer fields, the dragonflies . . . it felt like a world apart, a
spot the child. Audreyor the absence of Audreyis cen- place where time was suspended. The pretty little villages
tral to both the past and present-day story lines, which still look like historical-film sets. Of course, in the 1950s
had to evolve together to tease out the truth of her fate. it would have seemed even more rural than it does now.
The Cotswolds has always attracted artists and writers.
Do you have sisters? Did your sibling relationships in- A wonderful manor house open to the public in the area,
form the Wilde sisters? should any reader be lucky enough to visit, is Kelmscott
I desperately wanted a sister. My mothers fourth child was Manor, the Arts and Crafts retreat of William Morris. Today,
meant to be that little sister. But he turned out to be my a lot of the bigger stately homes, once owned by English
third brother. After that I had to make do with my school aristocrats, have become the luxury weekend homes of
friends sisters. I was endlessly intrigued by their dynam- the international superrich and celebrities. A few of them
ics, and rather envious of them. It seemed a very different open their gates to show off their magnificent gardens in
relationshipmore nurturing, more conspiratorial, as well the summerbasically, a perfect day out for nosy writers.
Jessies difficulties with Bella feel true to life. What was it like to
write their relationship? Did any of your own relationships inform
the writing?
Jessie and Bellas relationship is delicate. This was the part of the
book I rewrote most, until it felt right. I have great compassion for

We projected
Bella, the way she feels everything so intensely, her catastrophic
loss. Jessie too: she d esperately wants to be a good stepmother
but doesnt quite know how. Although I have no direct experience of

all our teen-


stepchildren myself, I do have a teenager, and I know that teenagers
dont come with instruction manuals.

The novel emphasizes the difference between life in the city and
life in the country. Where do you live? Do you prefer one over the
other? age longings
I live in Oxford, with a huge meadow a few minutes from my door; I
have cows and a city center at almost equal distance, which suits me
very well. Im not sure Id last very long in the countryside proper I
like to be able to walk to my yoga class, the deli, the cinema. I lived
onto them.
Unfortunately,
in London for a long timewe moved here four years agoand I
still visit a lot. In my dream life, Id be one of those extremely lucky
people with beautiful apartments everywhere, flitting from sea to
city to meadow whenever the mood took me.

The arrival of Harry and Tom changes everything for the sisters.
when they
Was either of these boys based on real-life childhood crushes?
I do vividly remember a group of handsome boys from a very ex-
pensive school who would saunter past me and my girlfriends. We started talking
were transfixed by them. It was all about the way they walked, a sort
of loping confident gait, and how they flicked their eyes over us. We
projected all our teenage longings onto them. Unfortunately, when
they started talking to us the spell was broken. They were better
to us the spell
was broken.
idolized at a distance.

Without giving anything away, did you always know how the novel
would end?
Yes, I did. I always know how a novel will begin and end. Im not sure
I could start writing it otherwise. The middle bits can wobble and
They were
evolve, but from the start the story has to be secured firmly at each
enda bit like a hammock swinging between two trees.
better idolized
Whats next for you?
Ive got the bones of a new story and Im currently adding flesh to it,
which mostly means taking notes until the characters are clear in
my mind. A forest, a remote Cornish island, and a sensational front-
at a distance.
page murder all play a part!
Praise for The Wildling Sisters
AN ENTHRALLING STORY OF SECRETS, SISTERS, AND AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY.
Kate Morton, New York Timesbestselling author of The Lake House

UTTER BLISS. Veronica Henry, author of How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Spellbinding, heart-stopping, and touching on depths we all have within us but cant always
articulate. I cant tell you how much I loved it. Dinah Jefferies, author of Before the Rains

A MAGNIFICENT, LYRICAL PAGE-TURNER. Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse

A haunting mystery about the secrets of the past, the bonds within families, and the hidden ties
that connect people across time. A story to be savored. Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls

Beautifully written with a gripping plot. I couldnt stop reading this.


Katie Fforde, author of A Secret Garden

MAGICAL, LYRICAL, DAZZLING IN SETTING AND TONE, this is the most


beautiful book you will read this year. Lisa Jewell, author of The Girls in the Garden

EVOCATIVE AND FILLED WITH SUBTLE INTRIGUE. I SO ENJOYED IT.


Clare Mackintosh, New York Timesbestselling author of I See You

THE WRITING IS BEAUTIFULcharacteristically exquisite and evocative


and the pace and suspense handled expertly. . . . Richly poetic, immersive, affective.
It even made me cry at the end. Sarah Vaughan, author of The Art of Baking Blind

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