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Book club questions for The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth examines this psychological thriller about two sisters. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I read The Good Sister in about a day. It features a quick style of writing that combines elements of a thriller with a more contemporary type story.
That said, I did predict where the story was going. I’m curious your thoughts on that—if you accurately guess the key twists in a thriller, does that impact the story for you? Do you try to solve the mystery before the protagonist? Sometimes it takes away from the story if you know where it’s going but I didn’t feel that was the case with this one. I think it’s because there was so much going on with Fern, Wally, her past, etc.
There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.
When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.
Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.
Book Club Questions for The Good Sister
- What were your initial impression of the relationship between Fern and Rose?
- We read the story from Fern’s first person perspective and also the diary entires of Rose. Why do you think the author told the story in this way?
- What was behind Fern’s decision to have a baby for Rose?
- Fern considers Rose her “person.” Let’s talk about why Fern was so reliant on Rose.
- Fern is on the autistic spectrum and deals with sensory issues while Rose has type 1 diabetes and appears unable to have a baby. But we later learn that Rose appears to suffer from a narcissistic disorder. How did Rose use Fern’s condition to manipulate and control her?
- Fern meets Rocco, who she nicknames Wally, at the library. What did you think about their relationship and romance?
- Did you start to have suspicions about Rose? Or were you surprised at the reveal that she wasn’t who she seemed?
- When did Fern realize she didn’t want to give up her baby to Rose?
- The sisters share a dark past. Fern inadvertently killed her mother’s boyfriend’s son. But we later learn that Rose had a big hand in his death. Were you surprised by this? Why do you think the police decided not to investigate it?
- What did you think about the ending? What happens next for Fern and Wally? Will Fern talk to Rose again?
- Who is ‘the good sister’ in this story?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Good Sister! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
If you’re in the mood for another Sally Hepworth, check out The Mother-in-Law!
From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.
That was five years ago.
Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?
Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.
Northern Spy by Flynn Berry
Another interesting story about sisters is Northern Spy by Flynn Berry.
A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.
The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.
When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn.
Riveting, atmospheric, and exquisitely written, Northern Spy is at once a heart-pounding story of the contemporary IRA and a moving portrait of sister- and motherhood, and of life in a deeply divided society.