Sins of the Mother

A Novel

Sins of the Mother

A sweeping novel that follows a mother and daughter through post-WWII Ireland and London, demonstrating that family bonds can never be broken.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439165126 | 
  • August 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sins of the Mother includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Tara Hyland. 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 and Topics for Discussion

1. Compare and contrast Cara and Franny. In what ways are they different, and in what others are they similar?  
2. What is this novel saying about second chances? Which characters get them, and what do they do with them? 
3. As the title suggests, Sins of the Mother is very much about the failures of maternal figures. Consider the many women who act as mother figures for Cara. To what extent are they successful or disappointing role models for her? 

4. Two pregnancies—both to young, unmarried women—drive much of the narrative’s action. Discuss how these pregnancies are handled by the adults in these young girls’ lives, and the impact of their actions.  What role does shame play here, and in your opinion, who—if anyone—is guilty, in these scenarios?

5. Where does friendship fit in to this novel? Can it ever compensate for the absence of family?

6. Both Franny and Cara want to pursue a see more

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About the Author

Tara Hyland
Photograph by Sophocles Alexiou Pictorials