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Speak Softly, She Can Hear

Speak Softly, She Can Hear

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In this “gripping psychological thriller” (New York Post), two best friends at an exclusive Manhattan girls’ school make a pact: they will lose their virginity before graduation.

Carole is a shy, overweight scholarship student who finds herself under the spell of the charismatic, pedigreed Naomi—it’s an unlikely friendship that will set in motion a series of events with dire and far-reaching consequences.

Enter Eddie, a slick Upper East Side prep school dropout, expelled from a half-dozen private schools on the East Coast. Eddie is handsome, fatally charming, and more than willing to help the girls accomplish their goal. But something about him is not quite right—his overly familiar way with Naomi, his hair-trigger temper, the stories that just don't add up—and on one bitterly cold holiday weekend in an isolated cabin deep in the Vermont woods, a horrifying twist develops in the girls’ plan.

#1 bestselling author Wally Lamb says, “Pam Lewis is a sly and sure-footed storyteller whose literary tale of treachery, deception, and truth sits comfortably alongside Donna Tartt's The Secret History and Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley."
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743255400 | 
  • March 2006
List Price $16.00
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

March 28, 1965

It was pitch-black. Black above and below. The only way to know up from down was by the pinprick stars. Ahead the sounds of Eddie Lindbaeck's boots fell heavily in the snow, his full weight coming down and then pushing off. Carole's footsteps were quieter because she'd worn her new Capezio flats to make her feet look pretty and to impress him. Capezio flats, black stretch pants with the loop under the arches to keep them from riding up, Naomi's gold mohair sweater, and her aunt Emily's brown parka with the cream vee. She couldn't help the jacket. It was all she could scrounge up in the warmth department.... see more

Reading Group Guide

Reader's Group Guide for Speak Softly, She Can Hear
1) Describe the various settings in which the story takes place. What does Vermont in particular symbolize for Carole? The story takes place during the 1960s and 1970s. How does this unique period in history figure into the story?
2) From the very beginning of their encounter, Carole defers all power to Eddie both sexually and psychologically, instantly believing his version of the events in Stowe. Why do you think she does this? Discuss Carole's personality. Are there other instances with other characters in which Carole surrenders power? Do you think of Carole as weak or strong? Why? Do you feel her personality changes by the end of the story?
3) At the end of the novel, Carole is visited by her estranged father and the theme of family relationships comes full circle. How is this theme of family explored throughout the novel? How does Carole's relationship with her parents change after the events in Stowe? What is the nature of Naomi's family life? How do the familial relationships in the novel define and shape the characters and their actions?
4) What is the nature of Naomi and Carole's friendship at the beginning of the novel? Why do you think Naomi befriended Carole? What motivates Naomi to continue seeing Eddie, even after the events in Vermont? What is your overall opinion of Naomi? Do you consider her a product of her own design or a tragic character, the victim of unfortunate circumstances see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Alexandra Lewis

I got swept up in the Gone Girl frenzy along with the rest of the country last year, devouring Gillian Flynn’s exceptionally smart psychological thriller in one sitting and hashing out that polarizing ending with anyone who’d read it. But despite...

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About the Author

Pam Lewis
Photograph by Doug Anderson

Pam Lewis

Pam Lewis lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Rob Funk. Since 1991, she has worked as a freelance writer of business and marketing communications. She is the author of the novels Perfect Family and Speak Softly, She Can Hear and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and various literary magazines.

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