The Firebird

The Firebird

Whoever dares to seek the firebird may find the journey—and its ending— unexpected.

Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes sees images, glimpses of those who have owned it before. It’s never been a gift she wants, and she keeps it a secret from most people, including her practical boss Sebastian, one of London’s premier dealers in Russian art.

But when a woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, claiming it belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving—known as “The Firebird”—is worthless. But Nicola has held it, and she knows the woman is telling the truth and is in desperate need of the money the sale of the heirloom could bring.

Compelled to help, Nicola turns to a man she once left and still loves: Rob McMorran, whose own psychic gifts are far greater than hers. With Rob to help her “see” the past, she follows a young girl named Anna from Scotland to Belgium and on into Russia. There, in St. Petersburg—the once-glittering capital of Peter the Great’s Russia—Nicola and Rob unearth a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption . . . an old story that seems personal and small, perhaps, against the greater backdrops of the Jacobite and Russian courts, but one that will forever change their lives.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451673821 | 
  • April 2013
List Price $19.99

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Firebird includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Questions for Discussion:
1. Nicola observes at the beginning of the book that her “image” is what compelled Sebastian to hire her. Sebastian cultivates his own image as a Frenchman in order to seem more attractive to clients, despite his proud English heritage. The difference between the “image” of a person and his or her true nature is obviously a very important theme in this book; how normal do you think it is for people to perform different “images,” or versions, of themselves? When do you feel comfortable just being your natural self?
2. Nicola says of her need to help Margaret: “I couldn’t not help her. I’d never have lived through the shame” (page 17). Do you think her reaction was appropriate? When and where should we draw the line when it comes to helping others? Finally, do you think Nicola unconsciously knew that helping Margaret would bring Rob back into her life?
3. Rob may be able to read Nicola’s mind, but he also seems to be able to read her (he completely knows who she is and how best to love her). How much of this d see more

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About the Author

Susanna Kearsley
Photograph © Ashleigh Bonang

Susanna Kearsley

As a former museum curator, Susanna Kearsley brings her own passion for research and travel to her novels, weaving modern-day and historical intrigue. She won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Award for her novel Mariana, the 2010 Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction novel for The Winter Sea, was shortlisted for a 2012 RITA Award for The Rose Garden, and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel from the Canadian Crime Writer’s Association for Every Secret Thing. She lives outside Toronto, Canada.