This reading group guide for Quiet Dell includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jayne Anne Phillips. 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.
After the deaths of her husband and mother-in-law in quick succession, Asta Eicher is left nearly penniless to care for her three children. She seeks a companion through a matrimonial bureau, and begins a correspondence with a wealthy widower who called himself Cornelius Pierson. Pierson promises her the security and support she desires. Within weeks, she and her children are dead. Emily Thornhill, a female reporter and thoroughly modern woman, becomes deeply invested in understanding what happened to this family, particularly to the youngest child, Annabel, an enchanting girl with a precocious imagination. Emily boldly pursues leads from local police in West Virginia. She becomes personally entwined with the Chicago banker who funds the investigation and who is wracked by guilt for not saving the Eicher family from ruin. Together, they are instrumental in seeing the case to its close and finding justice for the Eichers.
“Phillips’s prose is as haunting as the questions she raises about the natures of