A Family Daughter

A Family Daughter

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From the award-winning author of Half in Love and Liars and Saints, a riveting story of love, sex, secrets, guilt, and forgiveness.

Maile Meloy's debut novel, Liars and Saints, captured the hearts of readers and critics alike. Now Meloy returns with a novel even more dazzling and unexpected than her first. Brilliantly entertaining, A Family Daughter might also be the most insightful novel about families and love that you will read this year.

It's 1979, and seven-year-old Abby, the youngest member of the close-knit Santerre family, is trapped indoors with the chicken pox during a heat wave. The events set in motion that summer will span decades and continents, change the Santerres forever, and surprise and amaze anyone who loved Meloy's Liars and Saints.

A rich, full novel about passion and desire, fear and betrayal, A Family Daughter illuminates both the joys and complications of contemporary life, and the relationship between truth and fiction. For everyone who has yet to meet the Santerres, an unmatched pleasure awaits.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743289016 | 
  • February 2006
List Price $16.99

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Reading Group Guide

A FAMILY DAUGHTER
Maile Meloy

Questions and Topics For Discussion

  1. A Family Daughter is the story of four generations of Santerres. Discuss the evolving parent-child relationships within each generation.
  2. Discuss the themes of resurrection and resilience in the novel. Consider incidents such as Abby and Jamie’s relationship, Saffron’s baby, Margot’s affair, and the family reunion at the end of the novel. What drives each character to overcome tragedy and adversity?
  3. Why do you think the focus of the book, with the exception of Jamie, is on the women of the Santerre family? What is Yvette’s role as family matriarch?
  4. When thinking of the photographer, Yvette realizes that although they never had an affair, she and Teddy “had used him to make each other unhappy, and they were still using him.” Do other characters use similar devices to hold grudges against each other?
  5. Discuss the theme of sex and physical attraction in the novel. How does it influence each character in life-altering ways? Which characters use sex for comfort, and which use sex for power?
  6. Following her father’s death, Abby doesn’t want contact with any of her family members except Jamie. Is this because he’s closer to her age, or does she not feel comfortable with the rest of her family? Are they the only two members of the family who truly know and understand each other?
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About the Author

Maile Meloy
Photo Credit:

Maile Meloy

Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love and the novel Liars and Saints, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in California.

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