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The Edge of the Earth

The Edge of the Earth

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In 1898, a woman forsakes the comfort of home and family for a love that takes her to a remote lighthouse on the wild coast of California. What she finds at the edge of the earth, hidden between the sea and the fog, will change her life irrevocably.

Trudy, who can argue Kant over dinner and play a respectable portion of Mozart’s Serenade in G major, has been raised to marry her childhood friend and assume a life of bourgeois comfort in Milwaukee. She knows she should be pleased, but she’s restless instead, yearning for something she lacks even the vocabulary to articulate. When she falls in love with enigmatic and ambitious Oskar, she believes she’s found her escape from the banality of her preordained life.

But escape turns out to be more fraught than Trudy had imagined. Alienated from family and friends, the couple moves across the country to take a job at a lighthouse at Point Lucia, California—an unnervingly isolated outcropping, trapped between the ocean and hundreds of miles of inaccessible wilderness. There they meet the light station’s only inhabitants—the formidable and guarded Crawleys. In this unfamiliar place, Trudy will find that nothing is as she might have predicted, especially after she discovers what hides among the rocks.

Gorgeously detailed, swiftly paced, and anchored in the dramatic geography of the remote and eternally mesmerizing Big Sur, The Edge of the Earth is a magical story of secrets and self-transformation, ruses and rebirths. Christina Schwarz, celebrated for her rich evocation of place and vivid, unpredictable characters, has spun another haunting and unforgettable tale.
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  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442366039 | 
  • April 2013
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Read an Excerpt

Edge of the Earth

CHAPTER 2

MY PARENTS HAD laid out a lovely future for me in Milwaukee with tender care, as if they were smoothing the white coverlet over my rosewood bed. When I was graduated from the Milwaukee College for Females, I was to marry Ernst Dettweiler. Our wedding had been planned, mostly as a joke, while our mothers aired us as infants in Juneau Park. But why not? Ernst was a sweet, straightforward boy who met life’s pleasures head-on and made clear that he believed I was among them. He was as dear to me as sunshine. As my mother said fondly,... see more

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Edge of the Earth includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Topics & Questions for Discussion

1.Consider the novel's title—besides serving as a description of Point Lucia, what other meanings could it have? What does being at “the edge of the earth” mean for these characters?

2.On pg. 35, Oskar says, "For a curious person, the world is full of opportunities." As a group, discuss the difference between curiosity and ambition, particularly in the context of Oskar's character. Is Oskar ultimately curious, or is he ambitious?

3.How does Schwarz create tension and atmosphere within the narrative?

4.Early in the novel, Trudy remarks, "I was a goose plumped for others' consumption." (p. 40). What does she mean by this? What has changed for Trudy by p. 220, when she compares herself to Helen: “…like me, she'd been separated from her people and was having to make her life as best as she could at the edge of the earth." Is this a fair comparison? Take into account each woman's degree of agency as you discuss this.

5.Discuss the significance of material objects—especially per see more

About the Author

Christina Schwarz
Photograph by Deone Jahnke

Christina Schwarz

Christina Schwarz is the author of four previous novels, including The Edge of the Earth and the Oprah Book Club selection Drowning Ruth. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, she lives in Southern California.

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