The Year She Fell
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.
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
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
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
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
- Jackson McCain was a delinquent who grew up to be a
cop. What sort of experiences might account for such a transformation?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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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