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|The questions that
follow are intended to enhance your group's reading and discussion of
MOONRISE by Cassandra King.
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
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
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 spirits?
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
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 others?
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
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 possible?
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