A People Magazine "Get Set for Summer Pick"
One of InStyle Magazine's Top 5 Beach Reads
Blessed with beauty, talent, and a loving family, the Aschers seem to have it all. Joe and Laura are the toast of New York--a wildly successful playwright and a wealthy, well-educated actress. Then one winter night, seventeen-year-old Thomas dies, and the Aschers lose everything. More than a decade later, as their daughter Emily's wedding approaches, the family yearns to reconnect. But in order to do so, Joe, Laura, and Emily will first have to confront the tangle of blame, guilt, and long-held secrets that tore them apart. Shifting between past and present over the course of sixteen years, The Embers is an utterly gripping and exquisitely tender story of a family struggling to reconcile the past and embrace the future.
Praise For The Embers: A Novel…
“A riveting examination of a high-profile clan and its fall from grace. . . . The Embers builds like the fire its title conjures, glowing a little, then suddenly bursting into sparks of narrative that make it nigh on impossible to put down. . . . The Embers will inspire readers to examine their own judgments about those they love, and perhaps give someone another chance. Bass is a new author with an old soul, and a talent worth tending.” —Joy Tipping, Dallas Morning News
“In this fiercely tender story by Hyatt Bass, a new engagement forces one young woman, her mother and her estranged father to rehash a painful tragedy locked away in their past so she can finally move on.” —InStyle (One of InStyle Magazine's Top 5 Beach Reads for Summer 2009)
“A moving tale about grief's tenacious hold and the road to redemption.” —People (A "Get Set for Summer" Pick)
“Bass . . . is a sensitive observer of family dynamics, of the way people can fail to really see the ones they love. . . . THE EMBERS [is] contemplative and psychologically attuned.” —Laurie Muchnick, Bloomberg.com
“A very assured and beguiling debut novel” —Ben Dickinson, Elle.com (One of Elle.com's "Top Ten Smartest, Sizzlingest Beach Reads")
“Bass's well-paced, nuanced family saga is as engrossing as it is empathetic. Sure to appeal to readers who enjoy such family dramas as Judith Guest's Ordinary People.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Director, producer and screenwriter Bass creates a riveting narrative that digs into the notion that ‘there is nothing that happens to a child that does not implicate the parent in some way.' . . . Bass's excavation of a complex familial labyrinth is an elegant testament to the beautiful mess that is family.” —Publishers Weekly
“First novels shine too. In filmmaker Hyatt Bass's The Embers, newly engaged Emily and her parents finally begin coping with the death of Emily's brother.” —Barbara Hoffert, The Phoenix, "The Best in Summer Reading"
“The Embers is the sort of novel I'm always hoping to find--from the first page, I was transfixed. Hyatt Bass's lyrical story of a broken family is, in a word, stunning. The Embers is the best book I've read in a long time.” —Amanda Eyre Ward, author of How to Be Lost and Love Stories in This Town
“What is more powerful a place than the family? It's the center of our lives, and the crucible of our experience: The Embers, Hyatt Bass's lovely first novel, asks questions that only the family can answer, and delivers truths that only the family contains.” —Roxana Robinson, author of Cost
“Ten minutes into The Embers, I was completely hooked. Each member of this struggling family is portrayed with so much empathy and intelligence. The pacing is excellent, and the prose is exact. Reading it was a thought-provoking pleasure.” —Laura Moriarty, author of The Rest of Her Life and The Center of Everything
Picador, 9780312429713, 336pp.
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
About the Author
Hyatt Bass wrote, directed, and produced the film 75 Degrees in July, which was released in 2006. She is the author of the novel The Embers.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
What were your first impressions of Emily and her family? How did your opinions of them shift as you learned about their shared history? What are the most striking differences in the way they each experienced Thomas’s death?
Did anyone do anything “wrong” during the therapy session with Dr. Shepherd, or was the impasse between Emily and Joe simply already too great? What did Joe really mean when he blurted out, “I didn’t do anything”?
Joe and Laura’s marriage was on rocky ground even before Joe’s affair and the events surrounding Thomas’s death. Why were they growing apart? Did their difficulties seem insurmountable?
Emily and Thomas have a complicated—though loving—relationship. How did the dynamic between them compare to your own experience of siblings? Could you understand Emily’s need to act out during Thomas’s illness? Could her parents have done more for her during that period?
How does Earl handle his role as a stepfather and second husband? Does Laura respond to him differently from the way she responded to Joe? Do the two men have any traits in common?
What does Ramon’s case represent to Emily? What makes her well suited to her job as his attorney?
Clay and Emily experience a turning point in their relationship on their holiday ski trip. What was at the source of their fights? Were you rooting for them to work things out? How do their personalities complement each other?
What memories does Ingrid stir in Joe? In turn, what does she need from him? Did learning the truth about who Ingrid really was surprise you?
What were Joe’s motivations in taking Thomas on a trip to the country? How were Laura and Emily affected not just by Thomas’s death but by the way he died? Do the circumstances that led to Thomas’s pneumonia warrant blame?
What does The Embers reveal about trust and authentic love? What enables the Ascher family to grieve and to feel hope again? Has your family experienced a similar loss that was never fully addressed?