The Land of Women

The Land of Women

A Novel

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Akin to Alice McDermott, Regina McBride has crafted a gem that explores exile and memory, and the ways in which passion transcends time and distance.
She tries to remember her mother's voice and the pitch and treble of it passes through her; the rhythm of it so clear that for a moment they are...connected by frail strings.
So begins The Land of Women, and we are swept into Fiona O'Faolain's last summer in Ireland, the season of her burgeoning sexuality. It is a time, too, when mother and daughter step toward friendship among the voluminous gowns they make for local brides. Yet that giddy summer also delivers betrayal. Fiona's journey from the shame that ended her girlhood takes her to Santa Fe and to Carlos Aragon, a restorer of antiquities, whose ancestry is mysteriously linked to hers. As he explores their pasts with the precision of an artisan, Fiona must face her excruciating memory.
In The Land of Women the past lives in the present, and physical and emotional geography touch.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743228886 | 
  • June 2003
List Price $13.00
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Santa Fe,

New Mexico

1972

When she closes her eyes, Fiona recalls the pale smells of her mother's skin and hair; a smell like new muslin washed in salt water and left to dry in the wind. She tries to remember her mother's voice, and the pitch and treble of it passes through her, the rhythm of it so clear that for the shock of a moment they are returned to one another in the way they had been when she was small, connected by frail strings.

Displaced by the power of the memory, she sits up in bed to prove to herself that she is in Santa Fe, in her house on Delgado Street, with the cottonwood tree... see more

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
The Land of Women
Discussion Points

1. Consider the language in the first paragraph. What do you learn about the characters and about the story?
2. Look at the opening quote, "Begin a voyage across the clear sea, / If you would reach the Land of Women." Recount the story of the Land of Women. What does it mean to you? Discuss whether it's a man's fantasy. Why do you think Regina McBride uses it here for her title?
3. What are your early impressions of Fiona? Think about her life story and discuss what kind of person she is. How does her relationship with her mother define her?
4. What are your impressions of Jane? What kind of relationship do mother and daughter have? Consider the openness of their relationship, and discuss which one is more maternal.
5. What is significant about the story of "the bog girl"? What was she holding in her hands? Why does the story fascinate Fiona? Do you think there is a connection, symbolic or otherwise, among "the bog girl," the orphanage, and Fiona.
6. Discuss McBride's use of memory. For example, consider the smell of Jane on the first page, Fiona's abandonment when Jane left to be with Ronan in Chapter 2, and Fiona's tactile feeling of sex in Chapter 15 -- "It amazes her, how love remains, hiding in her skin, flooding up from the cells..." How do these memories inform and enhance the story? Share some of your memories that bubble up from nowhere when you smell, hear, o see more

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