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The Wildling Sisters

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
Hardcover
Jul 25, 2017 | 336 Pages
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    Jul 25, 2017 | 336 Pages

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    Jul 25, 2017 | 336 Pages

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Praise

“Delivers two richly suspenseful stories, set fifty years apart and dominated by a fateful summer when four young sisters stumble into mortal danger.” —People

“An enthralling story of secrets, sisters, and an unsolved mystery.” —Kate Morton, author of The Lake House

“A haunting mystery about the secrets of the past, the bonds within families, and the hidden ties that connect people across time. A story to be savored, The Wildling Sisters is a book I’ll be recommending to everyone I know.” —Megan Miranda, author of All the Missing Girls

“Evocative and filled with subtle intrigue. I so enjoyed it.” —Clare Mackintosh, author of I See You

“Magical, lyrical, dazzling in setting and tone, this is the most beautiful book you will read this year.” —Lisa Jewell, author of The Girls in the Garden

“Start with four sisters spending the summer in an English country house (where five years earlier a girl went missing). Add two desirable boys, teen crushes and sibling jealousy. Inevitable result: a murder cover-up.” —Ft. Worth Star Telegram

A gripping mystery that beautifully portrays the aching longing of youth, as well as the complex frustrations of love fulfilled. A magnificent, lyrical page-turner.” —Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse

“Applecote’s shabby glamour and dark atmosphere make for an electric setting for this tale of domestic suspense. Recommended for readers of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Megan Abbott, and Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides.” —Library Journal

“A bewitching gothic tale of sisters and secrets.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“An atmospheric story enhanced by Chase’s nimble and empathetic portrayal of her characters’ inner lives…Disturbing and delicious, The Wildling Sisters reaffirms Chase’s stature as a fresh voice in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier.” —Richmond Times Dispatch
 
“Utterly engrossing and beguiling from the first page, a beautifully written, exquisitely paced, dark dream of a book.” Rowan Coleman, bestselling author of The Summer of Impossible Things 

“Spell-binding, heart-stopping and touching on depths we all have within us but can’t always articulate. I can’t tell you how much I loved it.” —Dinah Jefferies, author of Before the Rains

“A page turning, suspenseful novel with richly created characters, a twisting plot, and a gothic setting.” —ShelfAwareness

“Atmospheric . . . will appeal to fans of similar English-house mysteries, like those by Daphne du Maurier.” —BookPage

“Beautifully written with a gripping plot, I couldn’t stop reading this.” —Katie Fforde, author of A Secret Garden

“Richly poetic, immersive, affective. It even made me cry at the end.” —Sarah Vaughan, author of The Art of Baking Blind

“Utter bliss.” —Veronica Henry, author of How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Author Q&A

1.       The Wildling Sisters is your second novel. How was writing this story different from writing Black Rabbit Hall?
The plot of Black Rabbit Hall had been percolating for quite a while before I wrote the book, so it was ready to slip onto the page. The Wildling Sisters had to be dreamt up and written without such a long gestation, which was harder. That said, I knew pretty early on that I very much wanted to write about four sisters and their tight, combative sense of sisterhood, as well as the fifties era.
2.       What inspired you to write this story? Did you think of one of the story lines before the other?
Audrey’s story—her vanishing—is at the knotted heart of the book, the mystery that the main character, Margot (like, I hope, the reader!), wants to solve. I’m not sure why I was so haunted by Audrey, only that the fear of a child simply disappearing is primal. Most mothers, me included, have experienced that moment of distraction—quickly followed by gut-clamping fear—when they glance around the supermarket or the park and can’t see their child. The world simply stops at that instant and doesn’t start up until they spot them. Audrey—or the absence of Audrey—is central to both the past and present-day story lines, which had to evolve together to tease out the truth of her fate.
3.       Do you have sisters? Did your sibling relationships inform the Wilde sisters?
I desperately wanted a sister! My mother’s fourth child was meant to be that little sister. But he turned out to be my third brother. After that I had to make do with my school friends’ sisters. I was endlessly intrigued by their dynamics, and rather envious of them. It seemed a very different relationship—more nurturing, more conspiratorial, as well as more competitive. (And far better opportunities for borrowing clothes!) I wanted to draw the Wilde sisters as individuals, as the sisters I’d like to have, each one alive on the page. 
4.       There are so many rich characters in this novel. Was any one of them your favorite to write?
That would have to be Pam, the stroppy, opinionated sister, always the loudest person in the room, even when she’s silent. She gets the sharpest one-liners. I know that in real life I’d warm to Pam simply because she can’t be anyone but herself. There’s something very endearing about that.
5.       Is there a real-life Applecote Manor? Why did you choose to place Applecote in the Cotswolds? What defines that area?
There’s no real Applecote Manor. While I’ve kept the precise location quite vague—the village is fictionalized—the novel is set in a very idyllic part of the Cotswolds, a quintessentially English landscape, very lush, gentle and ancient. I went on a wild swimming weekend there with some girlfriends a few years ago, and the bucolic river, the summer fields, the dragonflies . . . it felt like a world apart, a place where time was suspended. The pretty little villages still look like historical-film sets. Of course, in the 1950s it would have seemed even more rural than it does now. The Cotswolds has always attracted artists and writers. A wonderful manor house open to the public in the area, should any reader be lucky enough to visit, is Kelmscott Manor, the Arts and Crafts retreat of William Morris. Today, a lot of the bigger stately homes, once owned by English aristocrats, have become the luxury weekend homes of the international superrich and celebrities. A few of them open their gates to show off their magnificent gardens in the summer—basically, a perfect day out for nosy writers.
6.       Jessie’s difficulties with Bella feel true to life. What was it like to write their relationship? Did any of your own relationships inform the writing?
Jessie and Bella’s relationship is delicate. This was the part of the book I rewrote most, until it felt right. I have great compassion for Bella, the way she feels everything so intensely, her catastrophic loss. Jessie too: she desperately wants to be a good stepmother but doesn’t quite know how. Although I have no direct experience of stepchildren myself, I do have a teenager, and I know that teenagers don’t come with instruction manuals.   
7.       The novel emphasizes the difference between life in the city and life in the country. Where do you live? Do you prefer one over the other?
I live in Oxford, with a huge meadow a few minutes from my door; I have cows and a city center at almost equal distance, which suits me very well. I’m not sure I’d last very long in the countryside proper —I like to be able to walk to my yoga class, the deli, the cinema. I lived in London for a long time—we moved here four years ago—and I still visit a lot. In my dream life, I’d be one of those extremely lucky people with beautiful apartments everywhere, flitting from sea to city to meadow whenever the mood took me.   
8.       The arrival of Harry and Tom changes everything for the sisters. Was either of these boys based on real-life childhood crushes?
I do vividly remember a group of handsome boys from a very expensive school who would saunter past me and my girlfriends. We were transfixed by them. It was all about the way they walked, a sort of loping confident gait, and how they flicked their eyes over us. We projected all our teenage longings onto them. Unfortunately, when they started talking to us the spell was broken. They were better idolized at a distance.
9.       Without giving anything away, did you always know how the novel would end?
Yes, I did. I always know how a novel will begin and end. I’m not sure I could start writing it otherwise. The middle bits can wobble and evolve, but from the start the story has to be secured firmly at each end—a bit like a hammock swinging between two trees.
10.    What’s next for you?
I’ve got the bones of a new story and I’m currently adding flesh to it, which mostly means taking notes until the characters are all clear in my mind. A forest, a remote Cornish island, and a sensational front page murder all play a part!

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