The Daughters (Hardcover)

By Adrienne Celt

Liveright Publishing Corporation, 9781631490453, 272pp.

Publication Date: August 3, 2015

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Description

Lulu can't sing. Since the traumatic birth of her daughter, the internationally renowned soprano hasn't dared utter a note. She's afraid that her body is too fragile and that she may have lost her talent to a long-dreaded curse afflicting all of the mothers in her family.

When Lulu was a child, her strong-willed grandmother Ada filled her head with fables of the family's enchanted history in the Polish countryside. A fantastical lore took hold--an incantatory mix of young love, desperate hope, and one sinister bargain that altered the family's history forever. Since that fateful pact, Ada tells Lulu, each mother in their family has been given a daughter, but each daughter has exacted an essential cost from her mother.

Ada was the first to recognize young Lulu's transcendent talent, spotting it early on in their cramped Chicago apartment, then watching her granddaughter ascend to dizzying heights in packed international concert halls. But as the curse predicted, Lulu's mother, a sultry and elusive jazz singer, disappeared into her bitterness in the face of Lulu's superior talent--before disappearing from her family's life altogether. Now, in the early days of her own daughter's life, Lulu now finds herself weighing her overwhelming love for her child against the burden of her family's past.

In incandescent prose, debut novelist Adrienne Celt skillfully intertwines the sensuous but precise physicality of both motherhood and music. She infuses The Daughters with the spirit of the rusalka, a bewitching figure of Polish mythology that inspired Dvorak's classic opera. The result is a tapestry of secrets, affairs, and unimaginable sacrifices, revealing a family legacy laced with brilliance, tragedy, and most mysterious and seductive of all--the resonant ancestral lore that binds each mother to the one that came before.



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Lulu believes the function of stories is to “teach our brains to dream.” What do you think is the purpose of storytelling in this narrative?generic viagra price canada
  2. Do you think John really suspects Kara is not his own daughter? If so, why do you think he chooses not to confront Lulu?generic viagra price canada
  3. Compare the myth of the rusulka with the tale of the dark figure who approaches Greta in the forest; what do each of these suggest about Lulu’s legacy, and her fate as an artist and mother?generic viagra price canada
  4. Lulu seems deeply aware of her sensory surroundings, and is particularly sensitive to touch and sound. Her spine “cracks” as she shifts in her chair, sound “breaks into brittle sheets of paper,” a voice is “spongelike;” what do you think this reveals of her character?generic viagra price canada
  5. Before giving birth, Lulu often describes her body as “tightly wound,” but after having Kara her body is loosened, expansive, “cracked open.” What does this seem to suggest of Lulu’s experience of motherhood?generic viagra price canada
  6. When Lulu says of John that he “makes the world what he wants it to be,” what do you think she means? How would you describe John?generic viagra price canada
  7. Did you enjoy the structure of the narrative? How do you think the back and forth movement emphasizes or mirrors certain themes of the novel?generic viagra price canada
  8. Why do you think Sara leaves Ada and Lulu behind? What effect does her absence have on Lulu?generic viagra price canada
  9. Often the stories told in the novel—from Ada’s rich folktales and Sara’s playful games to Lulu’s childhood fantasies—take an unexpected turn. Why do you think that is?generic viagra price canada
  10. How does Ada handle her grief over losing Greta, and the loss of her home in the wake of war? How does her grief compare to Lulu’s?generic viagra price canada
  11. What do you make of the differences in Greta’s story when Ada and Sara tell it?generic viagra price canada
  12. Why does John’s rabbit story hold such significance for Lulu? What does it seem tell her about him, about their relationship?generic viagra price canada
  13. Which character do you sympathize with most in the story?generic viagra price canada
  14. How did you feel about the ending? Do you feel hopeful for Lulu and her relationship with Sara? Her relationship with Kara?generic viagra price canada
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