The Year She Fell 

                   A Women's Fiction Novel by Alicia Rasley       

                                                  Bell Bridge Books, November 2010


       Book Video with original music by Lucas Hamelman!     Reader's Guide below.

  Every family has its secrets, right? But the Wakefields have more than most.


In the Wakefield family, there are four sisters, the richest girls in town.  They grew up privileged in the poor mountain state of West Virginia, schooled in humility by their autocratic mother and told how lucky they were.


Ellen escapes into marriage with an Irish charmer, but to keep him, she has to sacrifice most of who she is.

Laura flees the mother she hates and the boy she loves to pretend to be someone else.

Theresa, the adopted daughter, is always on probation, in her family, in her religion, in her life.

And Cathy-- Cathy was the adventurer in life and in love, seeking revenge for a wrong she couldn't admit.

A family of secrets-- a house of cards. It lasts precariously until a boy arrives, and demands recognition, and destroys all the illusions the Wakefields have tried so hard to build.




The Year She Fell by Alicia Rasley

Reader's Guide


  1. The Year She Fell is set in the mountains of West Virginia, a beautiful but impoverished state.  Discuss the situation of the Wakefield sisters, growing up rich but surrounded by poverty.
  2. Both Ellen and her sister Theresa have religious vocations, but while Ellen's faith is low-key, Theresa's requires constant sacrifice. What about their personalities and experiences might account for the difference in religious intensity?
  3. Mitch Price is an artisan, a man who works creatively with his hands in a traditional craft (wood-carving). In his own way, he is as much a throwback as Mrs. Wakefield. How might the remote setting (mountainous West Virginia) lead to an embrace of more traditional forms and roles?
  4. Jackson McCain was a delinquent who grew up to be a cop. What sort of experiences might account for such a transformation?
  5. Mrs. Wakefield is a society matriarch of a sort not seen much in these days of grannies in hiking boots. Tom calls his father "a professional Irishman," deepening his accent and Irishness to impress the Americans who come to his pub. Trevor O'Connor. and Mrs. Wakefield are both most comfortable in the personas imparted by their social class and situation.  Is that sort of role-inhabiting a thing of the past in our fast-changing society?  Contrast this with the discarding of early roles (delinquent and debutante) shown by the younger Jackson and Laura.
  6. Laura and Jackson never got over their early love, and they reunite as adults. Is this sort of "reunion love" an example of self-deception, or can what attracted us at 16 still be alluring in midlife?
  7. In his reckless youth, Tom betrayed Ellen. Do you think it's possible to forgive and forget in a case like theirs? Is she a fool if she believes him when he says he loved only her?
  8. Cathy is the great enigma, and her death the mystery that her sisters must solve.  Consider the damage she has done to each sister. Does her reason absolve her of guilt?  How much should childhood trauma excuse adult misbehavior?
  9. Were Mrs. Wakefield's attempts to protect her family admirable or lamentable?  Chief McCain thinks she's crazy, as are most rich women. Do you agree that wealth distorts reality for the wealthy?
  10. All families have secrets, though the Wakefields have more than most. Have you discovered secrets in your own family? What did your parents and grandparents hide from you, and why?

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