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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


bentley wrote:


KateMorton wrote:
It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks to Barnes and Noble for having me, and to everyone for participating in the reading group! I'm really looking forward to answering questions and discussing The House at Riverton over the next few weeks.
Kate Morton




Welcome Kate. We look forward to your being here. There are quite a few questions from many readers already posted in the thread so there is great interest and enthusiasm.

Are you in Australia posting or are you in a more local timezone? My guess would be that it is Tuesday morning already in Aussieland.

I really enjoyed HAR and thank you again for being with us.

Bentley




Hi Bentley,
You guess correctly! It's a rainy, humid Tuesday morning here in Australia.
Looking forward to chatting with you some more in the coming weeks.
Kate


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for the Author


KateMorton wrote:

nfam wrote:
Welcome Kate,

This is a wonderful book, a sincere pleasure to read. Several of my questions have already been asked, particularly about the house as a character. I'd like to know how you chose to write the book as a flashback. It's effective because Grace comes across as a very likable old lady. I don't think she would have had the same stature if the story had been told in a strict chronological sequence.

Glad to have you here!

Nancy




Hi Nancy,
Thanks for your post; I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. One of the things that interest me most as a writer is the relationship between the present and the past. I'm attracted to the idea that history isn't static, that it is notional and fluid and with us all the time. For me, as as writer and as a reader, the past is always more vivid when connected clearly to the present (as opposed to straight historical fiction where the entire storyline takes place in the past).

From the book's conception I knew that I wanted to use a first person voice to confess a long-kept secret, so the use of flashback was always going to be necessary. As Grace's health deteriorated and the energy of her storytelling became more compulsive, I really enjoyed finding different ways to segue into the past narrative. For instance, at the beginning of the book the transition to flashback is more mechanical, Grace very much in control of her own thoughts; however, as the story progresses and the past exercises a greater pull over her, she slips in and out in a much more fluid way.

Kate


Have you read, Water For Elephants? Its a marvelous story told by a 93 year old man about his youth with the circus and yes, both the older Jacob and the younger Jacobs' stories were marvelous. Both characters were equally interesting and the transitions between the two just seemless. Great story.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


vivico1 wrote:

KateMorton wrote:

nfam wrote:
Welcome Kate,

This is a wonderful book, a sincere pleasure to read. Several of my questions have already been asked, particularly about the house as a character. I'd like to know how you chose to write the book as a flashback. It's effective because Grace comes across as a very likable old lady. I don't think she would have had the same stature if the story had been told in a strict chronological sequence.

Glad to have you here!

Nancy




Hi Nancy,
Thanks for your post; I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. One of the things that interest me most as a writer is the relationship between the present and the past. I'm attracted to the idea that history isn't static, that it is notional and fluid and with us all the time. For me, as as writer and as a reader, the past is always more vivid when connected clearly to the present (as opposed to straight historical fiction where the entire storyline takes place in the past).

From the book's conception I knew that I wanted to use a first person voice to confess a long-kept secret, so the use of flashback was always going to be necessary. As Grace's health deteriorated and the energy of her storytelling became more compulsive, I really enjoyed finding different ways to segue into the past narrative. For instance, at the beginning of the book the transition to flashback is more mechanical, Grace very much in control of her own thoughts; however, as the story progresses and the past exercises a greater pull over her, she slips in and out in a much more fluid way.

Kate


Have you read, Water For Elephants? Its a marvelous story told by a 93 year old man about his youth with the circus and yes, both the older Jacob and the younger Jacobs' stories were marvelous. Both characters were equally interesting and the transitions between the two just seemless. Great story.




I have! Shortly after The Shifting Fog (Australian title for The House at Riverton) was published in Australia, my publishers sent me an ARC of Water For Elephants. It was my kind of book, in fact I loved it so much that I provided an endorsement. From memory (and I hope I'm remembering correctly!), WFE contained a really interesting author's note about the way the author had stumbled onto circus history almost accidentally. I love reading that sort of insight into the way stories form.


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isugirl
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Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Thanks Kate for such a wonderfully written book! I have a list of friends who are excited to get their own copy based on my comments of praise. My question is did you know how the Game was going to fit in the story from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote the book? I am always amazed when authors can piece together so many twists and turns throughout a book. I loved how the book came full circle.

I was sad to have the story end. I can't imagine how you felt when you had to say goodbye to all the characters.

Thanks again for an amazing book! I look forward to reading more of your books in the future!
Frequent Contributor
GMorrison
Posts: 62
Registered: ‎12-20-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Dear Ms.Morton,

First of all, thank you so much, both for allowing us the opportunity to read your book and for taking the time to participate in this discussion forum.

One of my favorite aspects of "Riverton," and one that deeply impressed me, was your ability to subtly portray each character's distinct outlook on his or her life and surroundings. I imagine it must have been difficult find the voices that expressed their individual personalities, especially when many of their outlooks on life are so different from those commonly held today. Was it easier to do this for some characters than others? How difficult was it to do for those characters, like Alfred or Simion Luxton, who don't express their views directly to the reader (like Grace, or the extended conversations between Emmeline and Hannah, for instance), but rather are dependent on the impression of the main characters to portray them? And was it difficult to keep modern social mores and assumptions from sneaking into the characters' actions and behaviors?

Again, I very much enjoyed your novel, and thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions!
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for your time and your thoughtful answers to our questions so far!

I was wondering if there is any significance to the name of Robbie's friend Marie Seurat? I ask because later in the book, Teddy makes reference to what sounds like Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte: "He'd have another party in August for his birthday. A luncheon party in the summer house, with boats, and games, and striped canvas tents. Just like the painting by that French fellow, he said; what was his name?" (p.431). Is there any connection?

Karen
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


MalindaC wrote:
Any thoughts about a sequel? The characters are so engaging and there seems to be quite a few story lines that could be explored further. Even with characters that are barely mentioned, such as Ursula's grandmother.

Message Edited by MalindaC on 01-10-2008 04:22 PM




Hi MalindaC,
Of all the possible sequels to THatR, I've often found myself wondering about the journey that Jemima, Gytha and baby Florence make to America, and the new life they forge together. New York in the 1920s and 30s is a setting that really captures my imagination. At the moment though, I'm busy editing my next book, The Forgotten Garden, and beginning work on the third! Maybe one day though...
Kate


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Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi there, Ms Morton,

First, I'd like to thank you and B&N for the opportunity to take part in this exciting experience.
I became addicted to Riverton from the start and through most of the novel. I found myself thinking about these memorable characters off and on throughout the day. Then 3/4's of the way through I remember thinking, "this isn't turning out the way I had hoped/predicted". I was a little put off. But then along comes Part Four! Wow, I didn't take notes as I had before, I was just totally enthralled and read feverishly, even peeled potatoes while I read! I simply couldn't put it down until I had finished. Truly a wonderful read. I got chills reading lines concerning Grace and her last days like this one P444 "At first I think Ruth is in the room with us, but she is not. It is someone else. Something else. She appeared a little while ago. Has been here ever since. No one else can see her. She is waiting for me I know and I am almost ready"

O.K two questions: 1. I thought of Madame Bovery during the Robbie/Hannah episodes. Did you draw anything from that classic or is it just me?

2. Also I am a bit curious, who normally receives ARC's?

Thanks once again.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


bookhunter wrote:
Ms. Morton,

Thank you for the opportunity to read your book before publication. It has been very rewarding to read and discuss it with others, and I have been looking forward to hearing from you.

This book must have taken a tremendous amount of research. This may be odd, but one of my favorite parts of the book is your Author's Note where you detail the many sources and influences on the book!

I know that I have read from an "American" perspective, and have had to think about the differences in culture--not just in the year, but the place. What I love about books is that they open up these other cultures to me.

Was it a challenge for you, an Australian, to put yourself in a "British" mindset? Which was harder, creating the time period or the physical setting? How much time did the research for this take?

And, finally, do you think all future books will be similar settings because this is an era/place you love, or are you now sick of it and ready to write something in a very different setting?

(I know...lots of questions!)

Thanks again,
Ann, bookhunter




Hi Ann,
I love author's notes, too--they're one of the few places where the author's own voice can be heard! The House at Riverton was a real labour of love for me: when I started writing I'd already had a couple of manuscripts rejected by publishers and I'd just had a baby. I felt as though I'd completely fallen out of the world of publishing, so I decided I was going to write something just for me. A story of history, mystery and memory straddling the past and the present, told my a guilty narrator, and set in an English country house teetering on the brink of decline. That's why the book is set in England--it was the place I wanted to go in my imagination.

I adore reading auto/biographies, particularly those set in the first half of the twentieth century (although the period is historical, I always feel that it's just close enough to touch), and many of the novels set in this period are amongst my favourites. So although there was a lot of research involved in writing the book, it was an absolute pleasure and in many cases involved reading that I would have done for leisure anyway. In a sense, I'd been researching for the book all my reading life!

My next book, The Forgotten Garden, has an historical storyline set between 1900 and 1913 (the action takes place on the Cornish coast--swoon!), and the historical storyline in the book after that will take place between 1919 and 1945. I'm having a brilliant time at the moment reading for number 3!

Kate


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Author
KateMorton
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Re: Questions for the Author


mrstreme wrote:
Kate, I enjoyed The House at Riverton very much. I am wondering if you were influenced by "The War Poets" with your inclusion of Robbie in the story. As a student of literature, I was always moved by the sentiments in the poetry expressed by Wilfred Owens and Siegfried Sassoon. Was Robbie based on a real War Poet?

Thanks for your time!
Jill




Hi Jill,
Thanks for your post. Though Robbie wasn't based on any one poet in particular, I was definitely influenced by war poets like Wilfred Owens. Like you, I find their work extremely moving. I'm also a great admirer of poets like TS Eliot, whose writing was so reflective of the disillusionment of the post-war decade.
Kate


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for the Author


KxBurns wrote:
Hi Kate,

Thanks so much for your time and your thoughtful answers to our questions so far!

I was wondering if there is any significance to the name of Robbie's friend Marie Seurat? I ask because later in the book, Teddy makes reference to what sounds like Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte: "He'd have another party in August for his birthday. A luncheon party in the summer house, with boats, and games, and striped canvas tents. Just like the painting by that French fellow, he said; what was his name?" (p.431). Is there any connection?

Karen


Karen, I am interested too. I am wondering if this is in reference to Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park With George", a musical inspired by the painter George Seurat and his love of two women, one real one named Dot (since Seurat painted with dots, remember the school rhymn to know that was his work, Suerot, knew a lot, about dots)and one imaginary. I looked up the musical again and found this one interesting quote that really seems to fit this story. Get this:
"We have to acknowledge that once Seurat finished the painting, there were two Dots ever after: the real Dot who moved to America and raised Marie, and the Perfect Dot who lived on in the painting and in Seurat's memory. This peaceful, wise Dot at the end is not just an older Dot; it's a special Dot, a different but parallel Dot, one created by Seurat, by Marie, and by George." Sound like some of our characters here? :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


isugirl wrote:
Thanks Kate for such a wonderfully written book! I have a list of friends who are excited to get their own copy based on my comments of praise. My question is did you know how the Game was going to fit in the story from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote the book? I am always amazed when authors can piece together so many twists and turns throughout a book. I loved how the book came full circle.

I was sad to have the story end. I can't imagine how you felt when you had to say goodbye to all the characters.

Thanks again for an amazing book! I look forward to reading more of your books in the future!



Hello, and thanks for your question! I'm fascinated by the way books evolve: it sometimes feels as though your unconscious mind holds all the threads long before your conscious mind realises it. The Game, for instance, didn't have a place in the book until I'd written almost half of it. I knew there was something missing from the world I was creating for the Hartford children--something to bind them together and exclude others--I just didn't know what it was. I also knew that secrets and game-playing were going to be important themes in the book's conclusion.

Then one night The Game popped into my head, fully-formed. It was one of those rare 'light-bulb' moments that writers are so pleased to experience! I saw the box and the little books and, most importantly, the bond it would tie between the three siblings. I couldn't get to my computer fast enough: I printed the whole manuscript out and began searching for places to thread The Game into the existing text. As I did so, I was surprised (and delighted!) to discover that it was very easy, that the text as it stood seemed to anticipate The Game's inclusion. Almost as if some part of me had known what was missing long before I knew what was missing!

Kate


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for the Author


KateMorton wrote:

isugirl wrote:
Thanks Kate for such a wonderfully written book! I have a list of friends who are excited to get their own copy based on my comments of praise. My question is did you know how the Game was going to fit in the story from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote the book? I am always amazed when authors can piece together so many twists and turns throughout a book. I loved how the book came full circle.

I was sad to have the story end. I can't imagine how you felt when you had to say goodbye to all the characters.

Thanks again for an amazing book! I look forward to reading more of your books in the future!



Hello, and thanks for your question! I'm fascinated by the way books evolve: it sometimes feels as though your unconscious mind holds all the threads long before your conscious mind realises it. The Game, for instance, didn't have a place in the book until I'd written almost half of it. I knew there was something missing from the world I was creating for the Hartford children--something to bind them together and exclude others--I just didn't know what it was. I also knew that secrets and game-playing were going to be important themes in the book's conclusion.

Then one night The Game popped into my head, fully-formed. It was one of those rare 'light-bulb' moments that writers are so pleased to experience! I saw the box and the little books and, most importantly, the bond it would tie between the three siblings. I couldn't get to my computer fast enough: I printed the whole manuscript out and began searching for places to thread The Game into the existing text. As I did so, I was surprised (and delighted!) to discover that it was very easy, that the text as it stood seemed to anticipate The Game's inclusion. Almost as if some part of me had known what was missing long before I knew what was missing!

Kate


Kate, were these books, just on little rolled up paper or folded or how did you perceive them because we were wondering how they fit into a locket?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


barrycaseyii wrote:
Welcome Kate! I thoroughly enjoyed your novel. It is hands-down one of the best I have ever read. I went through an Austen and Bronte phase, and your novel was remeniscent of their writing. I am also a mystery fan, and the mystery of the "suicide" was an added bonus :smileyhappy: I received the novel a few days after Christmas, and fi9nished reading it in one day. I literally could not put it down. My roommate also read the novel, and gave you rave reviews.

Well...to my questions:

1 - Did you find it hard to differentiate between Grace, youg and old? I believed both facets of the character fully, and just wonder how you got in the right mind-set to write from each perspective.

2 - When is your next novel to be released? I am barely able to contain myself, I am so excited.

That's all for me. I have enjoyed discussing the book here on B&N.com, and with my roommate. Your novel has encouraged my roommate to expand her horizons and reado some Austen. She is not a reader, so this is a HUGE feat :smileyhappy:

Have a wonderful day!

Barry




Hi Barry,
I'm a mystery fan, too, and always thought of THatR as a mystery. One of my favourite writers is Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell's nom de plume): I love the way she wraps her mystery stories in layers of history and memory, and lets the mystery unravel slowly rather than using a traditional detective structure.

Regarding the two Grace voices, while I didn't find it difficult to distinguish between the two, I definitely found the older voice came more naturally. Young Grace is a lot more passive and spends much of the novel observing rather than acting, so there was a certain challenge in making her interesting in her own right, rather than having her seem like a mere device for telling Hannah's story.

My next book, The Forgotten Garden, is about a young woman whose grandmother dies leaving a mysterious inheritance and a family secret for her granddaughter to unravel. It's set in a cottage on the edge of a large Estate on the clifftops of Cornwall. I'm not sure of the American release date, but it's due out in Australia and the UK mid-2008.

Great news about your roommate, by the way! I'm very pleased to help in converting a non-reader!!

Kate


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Author
KateMorton
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Re: Questions for the Author



vivico1 wrote:

KateMorton wrote:

isugirl wrote:
Thanks Kate for such a wonderfully written book! I have a list of friends who are excited to get their own copy based on my comments of praise. My question is did you know how the Game was going to fit in the story from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote the book? I am always amazed when authors can piece together so many twists and turns throughout a book. I loved how the book came full circle.

I was sad to have the story end. I can't imagine how you felt when you had to say goodbye to all the characters.

Thanks again for an amazing book! I look forward to reading more of your books in the future!



Hello, and thanks for your question! I'm fascinated by the way books evolve: it sometimes feels as though your unconscious mind holds all the threads long before your conscious mind realises it. The Game, for instance, didn't have a place in the book until I'd written almost half of it. I knew there was something missing from the world I was creating for the Hartford children--something to bind them together and exclude others--I just didn't know what it was. I also knew that secrets and game-playing were going to be important themes in the book's conclusion.

Then one night The Game popped into my head, fully-formed. It was one of those rare 'light-bulb' moments that writers are so pleased to experience! I saw the box and the little books and, most importantly, the bond it would tie between the three siblings. I couldn't get to my computer fast enough: I printed the whole manuscript out and began searching for places to thread The Game into the existing text. As I did so, I was surprised (and delighted!) to discover that it was very easy, that the text as it stood seemed to anticipate The Game's inclusion. Almost as if some part of me had known what was missing long before I knew what was missing!

Kate


Kate, were these books, just on little rolled up paper or folded or how did you perceive them because we were wondering how they fit into a locket?




Hi Vivian,
I saw these books as miniatures, about an inch squared: tiny writing on very fine paper pages that were then bound together with cotton stitching. As a child I was very attracted to miniature things, and I liked the idea that the Hartford children would labour over creating such tiny, precious objects.
Kate


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for the Author


KateMorton wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

Kate, were these books, just on little rolled up paper or folded or how did you perceive them because we were wondering how they fit into a locket?




Hi Vivian,
I saw these books as miniatures, about an inch squared: tiny writing on very fine paper pages that were then bound together with cotton stitching. As a child I was very attracted to miniature things, and I liked the idea that the Hartford children would labour over creating such tiny, precious objects.
Kate


something that tiny and such detail, to be able to read it too, deserved to be in one of those decorative Chinese boxes. I had a friend once, who was going through a hard time and she told me about a dream she had about one of those boxes, just like you described that she was holding and when she opened it, it was full of rose pedals. Someone interrupted her just then and she had to go, but I knew it was something important to her and I wantd her to know I was listening, so I knew where they sold some and hunted for the right one and bought it the next week, her birthday and bought some roses and plucked off each rose petal very carefully and filled the box with them loosely. I put a note in there saying, you never got to finish telling me about your dream, but I know it was important to you and you are important to me, so I hope each petal represented something wonderful. We were at work and I just took it to her desk and gave it to her wrapped and walked back to my office area. One of the other women in the office said Linda is down there with this beautiful black box with paintings on it and its filled with roses and she is crying and smiling but wont tell us why. I didnt say a word. I just smiled. I still dont know the story of her dream, but it doesnt matter. I know my friend was happy that I remembered and that seemed to be enough.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Frequent Contributor
psujulie
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton,

I loved your book and can't wait to read more of your books! I tried to read the book and stay with the chapter posts; but towards the end, I couldn't stop! :smileyhappy: I really appreciated the research you did for this book. I was also impressed with the number of recurring themes and how you wove them so well into the story.

I was wondering how long it took you to write The House at Riverton. I was also curious if you write everyday for a specific number of hours (kind of like a job) or if you write when the urge hits!

Thanks so much for a wonderful read!

Julie
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
Frequent Contributor
Kathy
Posts: 37
Registered: ‎10-28-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

I am so enjoying this book, even though I am so far behind everyone else!! I will try to catch up this weekend.
Reader 2
Pammy
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi Kate,

I too loved the book and agree with the comparisons that the beginning reminded me of the beloved "Rebecca." I knew I was going to be "hooked"

My question is the time settings for your novels. I see that your next book is also set in the 1910's. In the past few years I have become a WWI junkie and I just wondered what draws you to that time in history.

My complaint about the book was Grace becoming an archaeologist, PhD., etc. To me it was totally out of her character and it said that she wasn't remarkable enough as she was. And she was totally remarkable. I thought her having a child and getting together with Alfred made a lot of sense but I could never accept her as a scholar. I can't think what in her early life sets her up for such a career. Dusting books might make her want to read. But that was too big a leap for me.

Whenever my book club reads a book we try to answer two things :

1) Who would you have dinner with. Definitely Grace - old or young.
2) Who would star in the movie. Atonement is too fresh in my mind to fairly answer that one. Who would you cast?

Anyway, looking forward to the next book and plan to order it from the UK asap.

Pam
Reader 2
jady25
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Kate,
I loved your book so much! I have a very demanding 3 month old little boy so I don't get to read a lot. I was amazed though how quickly I got through your book. Every time he would go to sleep I would throw myself back into the little world you created! I love the way that you write! I was very excited to see that you said the UK release of your new book is going to be in 2008. I have family in England and will be asking them to send me a copy as soon as it is out! I already can't wait to read it!!!!

Anyway, just one quick question for now. I was wondering if you knew in the beginning of the story exactly how Robbie would die. I was very shocked when I found out that it was Hannah who shot him! Then as I thought about the clues earlier in the book, like when they were at the street party and Hannah said that she knew he would have killed the other man, I couldn't believe that I didn't see it before. I was amazed that family won out over love. I was just wondering if you saw it that way or if it just happened that way as you wrote it.

Thanks for a wonderful read and I'm sure I will have more questions when I have a bit more time!

Lorna
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