Straying

A Novel

Straying

From “an extravagantly gifted writer who deserves to be widely read” (Rachel Cusk, The Telegraph), this intimate, quietly stunning novel tells the story of a young American expat who settles in Ireland in the late 1980s, marries, and lives through the consequences of an affair.

Alice, a young American, arrives in the West of Ireland with no plans and no strong attachments—except to her beloved mother, who raised her on her own. Alice falls in love with an Irishman, marries him, and settles down in a place whose customs she struggles to understand. In the course of a single hot summer, she embarks on an affair that breaks her marriage and sets her life on a new course.

Years later, after working in war zones around the world, and in the immediate aftermath of her mother’s death, Alice finds herself back in Ireland and contemplating the forces that led her to put down roots and then tear them up again. What drew her to her husband, and what pulled her away? Was her husband strangely complicit in the affair? Was she always under surveillance by friends and neighbors who knew more than they let on?

“Molly McCloskey is one of Ireland’s finest writers” (Colum McCann) and Straying is at once a gripping account of passion and ambivalence and an exquisite rumination on the things that matter most: the definition of love, the value of family, and the meaning of home.
  • Scribner | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501172465 | 
  • February 2018
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Straying includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. 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.

Introduction

Intimate and quietly stunning, Straying is the story of Alice, a young American raised by a single mother who finds herself in the west of Ireland in the late 1980s, where she meets and marries an Irishman. One summer, a chance encounter with a charismatic playwright leads to an affair that upends her life. Years later, having worked in war zones around the world, and following her mother’s death, Alice returns to Ireland and confronts her past. Straying is a searing account of passion and ambivalence and a rich exploration of how we define love and desire, family and home.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. In the very beginning of the book, Alice immediately admits to having an affair. Why does she share this information right away? What kind of relationship is she trying to establish with the reader?

2. On page 26 Alice says, “For as long as I could remember, there’d been a vague disquiet in me, as if I lived in the shadow of some humiliation whose particulars I could not recall.” What does she mean? How d see more

About the Author

Molly McCloskey
Photo by Leone Brander

Molly McCloskey

Molly McCloskey has served as writer-in-residence at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. In 2013, she held the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and in 2015 served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She is the author of three works of fiction and the memoir Circles Around the Sun: In Search of a Lost Brother. Straying is her first work of fiction to be published in the US. She is a citizen of both Ireland and the US, and she now lives in Washington, DC.

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