ON A BITTER WINTER’ S NIGHT, Frances Thorpe comes upon the aftermath of a car crash and, while comforting the dying driver, Alys Kyte, hears her final words. The wife of a celebrated novelist, Alys moved in rarefied circles, and when Frances agrees to meet the bereaved family, she glimpses a world entirely foreign to her: cultured, wealthy, and privileged. While slowly forging a friendship with Alys’s carelessly charismatic daughter, Frances finds her own life takes a dramatic turn, propelling her from an anonymous existence as an assistant editor for the books section of a newspaper to the dizzying heights of literary society.
With her unforgettable protagonist, author Harriet Lane draws readers into a tightly paced tale that careens towards an audacious ending. Transfixing, insightful, and unsettling, Alys, Always drops us into the mind of an enigmatic young woman whose perspective on a glamorous world also shines a light on those on the outside who would risk all to become part of it.
Read an Excerpt
It’s shortly after six o’clock on a Sunday evening. I’m sure of the time because I’ve just listened to the headlines on the radio.
Sleet spatters the windscreen. I’m driving through low countryside, following the occasional fingerpost toward the A road and London. My headlights rake the drizzle, passing their silver glow over gates and barns and hedgerows, the CLOSED signs hung in village shop windows, the blank, muffled look of houses cloistered against the winter evening. Few cars are out. Everyone is at home, watching TV, making supper, doing the last bits of homework before school... see more
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Book Cover Image (jpg): Alys, Always
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Stafford Critchlow(0.1 MB)
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Reading Group Guide
Frances Thorpe’s life as an assistant editor for the books section of a struggling newspaper is neither exhilarating nor remarkable until a chance encounter on a rainy night changes her life forever.
While driving back to London after a weekend at her parents' home in the country, Frances notices a car that has crashed along the side of the road. After calling for an ambulance, Frances comforts the woman in the driver’s seat, and hears her final words. When the family wants to meet and thank her, Frances resists until she learns that the woman was Alys Kyte, wife of a famous English novelist. After easing the minds of the family members with her account of Alys’s last conversation, Frances strikes up an unlikely friendship with Alys’s daughter, the wealthy, careless and exuberant Polly. As the months go by, Frances gains access to the exclusive world of the literary elite, and becomes irrevocably bound to the Kyte family.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. When Sergeant Kate Williams first calls Frances about see more