|The Same Sweet Girls Guide To Life
Moonrise - Reading Guide
From Cassandra King
I like to think that we as writers don't find stories, they find us.
I didn't really set out to write homage to Rebecca; instead,
it happened in a serendipitous way, as these things often do. I was
spending a summer in a dark old house in Highlands, working on a
book set there, and beginning to flesh out the different characters
and story lines.
One day, I made an interesting discovery hidden away in the garden
of the house I'd rented. Exploring, I found the final resting place
of the previous owner's wife. As we writers are apt to do, I became
intrigued by the lonely yet lovely site, and was drawn to it again
and again. And I'll confess, my imagination came into play as I
wondered about the woman who had once walked those garden paths and
now rested in a secluded spot that must have been beloved by her. By
sheer coincidence (or maybe not!), among my stack of books for
summer reading was an old copy of Rebecca. When I'm working
on a book, I relax at the end of a long day of writing by watching
old movies or re-reading books I've loved in the past. I've found
it's the only way to keep myself on track; the last thing I need is
to get engrossed in a new thriller or bestseller that I can't put
down. Only when I returned to the familiar pages of Rebecca
did I see the connection to my newfound fascination with the
previous wife of the house and du Maurier's unnamed narrator. By
chance, I'd found a new approach to my Highlands book.
If I had set out to write a retelling of Rebecca, I'm sure
the difficulties would have been numerous. Certainly, creating a
believable modern woman to play du Maurier's shy, overly-intimidated
narrator would have been major. But one of the things I love about
Rebecca is the way that same woman comes into her own by the
end of the book. Having Helen, the counterpart in my book, be so
intimidated by her predecessor without coming across as a wimp was a
challenge, but one that I enjoyed struggling with. It always comes
as a surprise to me when my characters take on a life of their own,
and this time was no exception.
Yes, writing Moonrise gave me a new appreciation for the mastery of
du Maurier's craft in writing Rebecca. The suspense is
perfectly timed, and the characters are unforgettable, even the
minor ones. I look forward to the next time I sit down to read one
of my all-time favorites, Rebecca, yet again. CK
Readers Group questions
1. MOONRISE was inspired by the authorís lifelong love of Rebecca,
Daphne du Maurierís classic gothic novel, reminding us that the
novels we admire in our youths resonate throughout our lives. What
other novels come to mind that were based on or simply inspired by
other classics? Are there novels you read years ago that made an
impression on you and that youíve never forgotten?
2. The Victorian house and gardens once cherished by Emmetís
deceased wife Rosalyn are very much their own characters in this
novel. Do you feel that houses and gardens somehow contain the
spirits of the past owners or occupants? Have you ever lived in a
haunted house yourself? How did you know it was inhabited by
3. The author believes as much research often goes into writing a
good novel as a work of nonfiction. Do you agree or disagree? Have
you ever tried your hand at writing a novel? Would you like to? What
would you write about?
4. What special challenges come with writing a novel from multiple
points of view? MOONRISE has three narrators: Helen, Emmetís second
wife; Tansy, the Atlanta beauty and socialite; and Willa, the local
woman who is the caretaker for these summer homes. The author
believes that elements of writersí personalities must exist in the
characters they create or else they will never be believable. Did
you find any one of these women more or less believable than the
5. MOONRISE distinguishes itself from Kingís previous work by
offering more fully developed male characters. Even though all the
narrators are women, did you feel that she succeeded in making the
men come alive on the page? Do you think that raising three sons
might have made King understand the male psyche more deeply than if
she had she raised daughters? Or is having brothers, fathers,
husbands, or male friends enough to bring a deep understanding of
the opposite sex?
6. The group of friends reject Helen partly because they feel Emmet
did not wait long enough before remarrying. How long is long enough
to wait after the death of a spouse? Does a remarriage soon after a
death of a spouse always reflect negatively on the quality of the
marriage that preceded it?
7. What did you think of Noel and Tansyís relationship in the book?
Do you think itís possible for men and women to be friends in the
long run if they havenít worked out any potential feelings they
might have for one another? And even if the feelings are technically
ďworked out,Ē do you think a friendship like Noel and Tansyís is
8. The relationships between women in MOONRISE have been compared to
those created by Margaret Atwood in her novels, Catís Eye and
The Robber Bride. All three novels explore the complex
depths, both beautiful and treacherous, of womenís friendships. How
do your own relationships compare? Can women be friends without the
complicated undercurrents, however temporary, of jealousy,
disappointment, or disillusionment?
The questions in this guide are intended to enhance your group's
reading and discussion of MOONRISE by Cassandra King.