Sins of the Mother

Sins of the Mother

A Novel

  • reading group guide
A SWEEPING FAMILY DRAMA ABOUT MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS, AND THE TENUOUS BONDS THAT HOLD THEM TOGETHER.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439165126 | 
  • August 2011
List Price $26.99
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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

SAN FRANCISCO, DECEMBER 1958


Sister Marie scurried along the dark corridor as fast as her pudgy little legs would carry her. Even though she would never admit it to the other nuns, alone in the cloisters at night she often got scared. This evening was worse than usual. A storm had knocked the electricity out again, and the flame from her candle cast eerie silhouettes on the stone walls, as though shadow demons lined the path on either side, lying in wait for her to pass.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” she murmured under her breath, trying to draw courage from the words.... see more
1

COUNTY CORK, IRELAND, JULY 1946


“Stop! Not here—someone might see!”

Franny broke from the man’s embrace, struggling to sit up in the long grass. Her breaths were coming short and fast, although it wasn’t all due to the fear of being caught. Wanting was written across the girl’s flushed cheeks. But she was determined not to give in to her desire. Before marriage, it was a mortal sin, and while she liked to think she was too sophisticated to believe the Church’s teachings, it was hard to ignore seventeen years of sermons.

Still lying on his back, Sean... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sins of the Mother includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Tara Hyland. 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. Compare and contrast Cara and Franny. In what ways are they different, and in what others are they similar?
  1. What is this novel saying about second chances? Which characters get them, and what do they do with them?
  1. As the title suggests, Sins of the Mother is very much about the failures of maternal figures. Consider the many women who act as mother figures for Cara. To what extent are they successful or disappointing role models for her?
  1. Two pregnancies—both to young, unmarried women—drive much of the narrative’s action. Discuss how these pregnancies are handled by the adults in these young girls’ lives, and the impact of their actions. What role does shame play here, and in your opinion, who—if anyone—is guilty, in these scenarios?
  2. Where does friendship fit in to this novel? Can it ever compensate for the abse
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About the Author

Tara Hyland
Photograph by Sophocles Alexiou Pictorials

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