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Nectar from a Stone

Nectar from a Stone

A Novel

  • reading group guide
It is 1351 in Wales, a country subjugated by England, beaten down by superstition, war, and illness. Elise, prone to strange visions and the sole survivor of a plague-ravaged family, has fled her village for distant Conwy with her servant Annora, running from a murder she was forced to commit in self-defense.
On the road, they cross paths with Gwydion, a moody Welshman seeking to avenge his murdered family and reclaim his estate, and are drawn into a bloody confrontation with another traveler. In its aftermath, Elise and Gwydion find themselves shocked by their developing feelings for each other, and they part.
As the women ultimately reach Conwy, a menacing shadow from Elise's past creeps toward her, and she must face it to find the peace she longs for, and help Gwydion recapture his home, and her heart, in the process.
In a dazzling narrative where mysterious visions, powerful desire, and dark secrets from the past converge, Jane Guill spins a masterful tale of romance, revelation, and breathtaking suspense.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743264792 | 
  • March 2005
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Reading Group Guide

Touchstone Reading Group Guide
Nectar from a Stone
1. In Chapter 1, Elise wonders if her servant's, Annora's, stories about spiders are true: that "to their webs spiders entice fallen souls who only appear to poor human eyes as trapped moths or mites, before herding them to Purgatory." But, she recalls, Annora also said the "creeping things were a blessing in the house, because they could miraculously absorb the poisonous Pestilence vapor, bind it to the spots on their backs." What stories have you heard about spiders? What is the significance of the spiders in this book?
2. What kind of tone does the opening chapter set? How did the author maintain that feeling throughout the novel?
3. Why does Jane Guill choose Elise and Gwydion as her main characters? In what ways do these two people reflect their time period, social standing, and cultural norms? In what ways do they defy them? When they first meet, it seems Elise and Gwydion are repelled by each other. Yet they grow to love each other deeply. What do you think Elise and Gwydion have in common? What about them is very different?
4. The medieval church approved doctrine that established woman as the bearer of Original Sin. How do you think this affected the household dynamic between husbands and their wives? Do you think we are still feeling the effects today? How did the Church's stance touch the lives of the men and women in Nectar from a Stone? Compare some of the marriages a see more

About the Author

Jane Guill
Photo Credit:

Jane Guill

Jane Guill is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council awards. She divides her time between far northwest Illinois and North Wales.

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