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A Special Relationship

A Special Relationship

A Novel

  • reading group guide
About an hour after I met Tony Hobbs, he saved my life. Thirty-seven-year-old American journalist Sally Goodchild quite literally married her hero. Both foreign correspondents, both on assignment in Cairo, they quickly fell in love and settled into domestic life in London. From the outset, Sally’s relationship with both Tony and his hometown was an uneasy one—as she found both to be far more unfamiliar than imagined. But her adjustment problems are soon overshadowed by a troubled pregnancy. When she goes into premature labor, there are doubts whether her child will survive unscathed. And then, out of nowhere, Sally is hit by an appalling postpartum depression—a descent into a temporary, but very personal hell, which even sees her articulating a homicidal thought against her baby. However, when she does manage to extricate herself from this desperate state, she finds herself in a fresh new nightmare, as she discovers that the man she thought knew her better than anyone—loved her more than anyone—now considers her an unfit mother and wants to bar her from ever seeing her child again.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439199138 | 
  • January 2011
List Price $16.00
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Read an Excerpt


ABOUT AN HOUR after I met Tony Hobbs, he saved my life.

I know that sounds just a little melodramatic, but it’s the truth. Or, at least, as true as anything a journalist will tell you.

I was in Somalia – a country I had never visited until I got a call in Cairo and suddenly found myself dispatched there. It was a Friday afternoon – the Muslim Holy Day. Like most foreign correspondents in the Egyptian capital, I was using the official day of rest to do just that. I was sunning myself beside the pool of the Gezira Club – the former haunt of British officers during the reign of King... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for A Special Relationship includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Douglas Kennedy. 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.


Sally Goodchild is a foreign correspondent living a life of action, independence, and intelligence. She has it all: a solid resume, an active career, and a strong journalistic reputation. The one thing she has never encountered is a man that can match her intelligence, her wit, and her lifestyle. That is, until fellow foreign correspondent Tony Hobbs saves her life on the flooded plains of Somalia. His acerbic humor, confidence, and elite British charm quickly seduce her. But their journalistic love affair is threatened when Sally becomes pregnant with his child. Much to her surprise, Tony is pleased and asks for her hand in marriage and a life with him back in his home town of London. This sets in motion a downward spiral of depression and deceit, as the man whom she thought she loved attempts to take from her what matters most, her own son. Sally must fight to rebuild her life against a rising tide of opposition as a stranger in a strange land.

Discussion Questions

1. When we see more

About the Author

Douglas Kennedy
Photograph by Paul Stuart

Douglas Kennedy

Douglas Kennedy is the author of ten previous novels, including the international bestseller The Moment. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Find out more at




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