The Beautiful Daughters

A Novel

LIST PRICE $12.99
About The Book

From the highly acclaimed author of Far From Here and Sleeping in Eden, described as “intense and absorbing from the very first page” (Heather Gudenkauf), comes a gripping new novel about two former best friends and the secrets they can’t escape.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adriran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Nicole Baart’s lush and lyrical writing has been called “sparkling” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (Romantic Times). The Beautiful Daughters is another exquisitely rendered, haunting story that will stay with readers long after the last page.

Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The Beautiful Daughters 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

From the author of Sleeping in Eden comes a gripping new novel about two former best friends and the secrets they can’t escape.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Nicole Baart’s lush and lyrical writing has been called “sparkling” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (Romantic Times). The Beautiful Daughters is another exquisitely rendered, haunting story that will stay with readers long after the last page.

 

Questions and Topics For Discussion

1. Why do you think the author chose to include an anonymous prologue? Who do you think wrote it: Adri or Harper? Does it matter? How does this prologue set the tone for the rest of the novel?

2. Discuss Adri and Harper’s first meeting when Adri is moving into her college dorm room. What things can you learn about Adri and Harper from this encounter? To what extent does their initial interaction anticipate the nature of their relationship?

3. Piperhall isn’t just a part of the setting, it almost becomes a character in The Beautiful Daughters. What role does the Galloway estate play in the unfolding of events in the book?

4. A number of characters (Adri, Harper, Victoria) carry secrets that eventually come to light. Is there catharsis once they’re able to unload the truth? Did it do them any good? Was the keeping of those secrets forgivable—why or why not?

5. “When everything was said and done, Adri still loved Harper. But she hated her, too.” (p. 28) How is this possible? Can you relate to the sometimes-fine line between love and hate?

6. The novel explores many themes (guilt, redemption, friendship, family). Which do you think is most important, and why?

7. Discuss Adri’s relationships with Will and her father. How do those two men in her life affect the decisions she makes? How does Caleb finally break down some of her walls?

8. Adri and Harper dealt with their guilt over David’s death in very different (and rather extreme) ways. Discuss how they coped with their feelings of loss and remorse. How could the story have changed if they had handled the situation differently?

9. Both Adri and Harper struggle with the idea of forgiveness and being forgiven. What do you think defines forgiveness? What does forgiveness mean to you?

10. At the heart of The Beautiful Daughters is a grave misunderstanding. Both Adri and Harper feel responsible for David’s death. Which version of the story do you believe? Or do you think there is a third interpretation?

11. The novel deals with some difficult subjects, including death and abuse. What challenges do you think the author faced when choosing how to represent those dark themes?

12. What does friendship mean to you? What could cause a friendship to fall apart?

13. The epigraph at the beginning of the book declares that: “hope has two beautiful daughters . . . anger and courage.” Do you think Adri and Harper embody these characteristics? How?

14. It’s obvious that Harper’s situation with Sawyer is much more sinister than she is willing to admit. What do you think is the nature of their “relationship?” Do you think Harper is a victim of human trafficking? Why or why not?

15. Both Adri and Harper loved David—or thought that they did. Were they deluding themselves? What was the allure of David for both of these women?

16. As the novel progresses, David’s destructive behavior becomes increasingly ruthless as he uses and abuses both Adri and Harper. What role do you think David played in the circumstances surrounding his own death? Is he in any way culpable for what happened to him? Why or why not?

 

Enhance Your Book Club

1. When Nicole Baart’s debut novel, After the Leaves Fall, was published, she won critical acclaim for her “evocative and beautiful” writing (Romantic Times Book Reviews). Publishers Weekly called the novel “a promising debut” praising the novel as “a welcome addition to inspirational fiction.” Read After the Leaves Fall with your book club and compare the two novels. Has Baart’s writing style changed since the release of her debut? How? Were there similarities between the two books? Discuss them with your book club.

2. To gain insight into Baart’s writing, watch this video where she discusses why she writes: http://vimeo.com/32239024.

3. To learn more about Nicole Baart and her other books, read reviews of her works, and read her blog, visit her official site at http://www.nicolebaart.com/.
About The Author
Photograph by Ellenvelde Photography

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Little Broken Things and The Beautiful Daughters. Learn more at NicoleBaart.com.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Atria Books (April 2015)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439197394

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for The Beautiful Daughters:

“Oh, the dark secrets that can be hidden in the openness of the Iowa landscape. Nicole Baart has given us such fully drawn characters and compelling relationships that only the hardest of hearts wouldn't be won over by The Beautiful Daughters.”

– William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace and Windigo Island

“Compelling and exquisite.... Baart has crafted an unforgettable novel filled with characters and places so rich, they spill from the pages in beautiful, slow motion passages that you’ll savor again and again. The Beautiful Daughters is one of those special novels that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

– Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet

The Beautiful Daughters is a captivating story that showcases Nicole Baart’s strong suits. Her sense of place and characters, her understanding of relationship dynamics, and her ability to craft a compelling plot filled with emotional highs and lows all make for an engrossing, fast-paced novel that will thrill fans of women’s fiction.”

– Kellie Coates Gilbert, author of Where Rivers Part

"An ambitious, complex novel, The Beautiful Daughters weaves an intricate web with one driving mystery trapped at its heart and several other secrets waiting to be unraveled. A gorgeous, dark, and winding read!”

– Andrea Lochen, author of The Repeat Year and Imaginary Things

"A meditation on friendship, betrayal and redemption, The Beautiful Daughters is the kind of story that grabs hold and doesn't let go until the final, moving page. Baart spins together multiple storylines with masterful skill, and her richly realized characters stay with you long after you've finished reading."

– Elizabeth Blackwell, author of While Beauty Slept

Praise for Sleeping in Eden:

"Baart expertly unravels the backstory of her intriguing characters, capturing the nuances of both life-tested relationships and the intense passion of first love. Ripe with complex emotion and vivid prose, this story sticks around long after the last page is turned."

– Publisher's Weekly

"Baart’s eloquent prose draws the reader into the tragic tale. At times a love story, other times a mystery, this is overall a very purposeful piece of fiction."

– RT Book Reviews

“[Nicole Baart] weaves together a taut story of unspoken secrets and the raw, complex passions of innocence lost.”

– Midwest Connections Pick, May 2013

Sleeping in Eden mesmerized me from the first heart-stopping page. Nicole Baart draws her characters beautifully while crafting a plot that kept me up all night. A highly emotional and gripping read.”

– Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach

"Nicole Baart writes like a dream, and she gives us a story that is part murder mystery, part sensitive exploration of our human connections: the ties between parent and child, husband and wife; the tug of the past; and the blurry, often baffling border between friendship and love."

– Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me and Love Walked In

"Sleeping in Eden is intense and absorbing from the very first page. Written in lovely prose, two seemingly different storylines collide in a shocking conclusion."

– Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away

"Baart's beautifully layered story of one man's journey to repair his wounded marriage, and the unsolved crime that may be the key to its healing, takes readers on a gripping ride. At turns chillingly suspenseful and achingly tender, Sleeping in Eden is exactly the sort of novel every reader hopes to find when they crack the spine of a new book. Baart's characters are richly drawn and utterly compelling; I was hooked from page one."

– Erika Marks, author of The Mermaid Collector and Little Gale Gumbo

“Nicole Baart has written a novel that satisfies on every level. Sleeping in Eden is a compelling mystery, a tragic love story, a perceptive consideration of the callous whim of circumstance and, perhaps most important, a beautiful piece of prose. I guarantee this is a book that will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

– William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author

Sleeping in Eden is bittersweet and moving, and it will haunt you from page one. Nicole Baart writes with such passion and heart.”

– Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March

“Emotionally gripping and perfectly paced, Sleeping in Eden’s taut storyline and profound characterizations will keep you turning the page until the richly satisfying end.”

– Amy Hatvany, author of Outside the Lines and Heart Like Mine

Sleeping in Eden is a bittersweet and masterful story of love and longing and redemption. Nicole Baart has crafted an irresistible mystery, a page-turner of a novel with prose so rich, and characters so beautifully drawn, you’ll be absorbed from the very first sentence. I’m telling everyone I know to put it on their to-be-read list—you will not be disappointed!”

– Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet

“Nicole Baart’s Sleeping in Eden is vivid storytelling with a temporal sweep. In Baart’s cleverly woven mystery, the characters’ intertwined fates prove that passions transcend time—and secrets will always be unearthed.”

– Jenna Blum, New York Times and internationally bestselling author

“With lyrical prose and a narrative that kept me turning pages at a breakneck speed, Sleeping in Eden delivered everything I yearn for in a novel: evocative plot lines, well-drawn characters, and a heart-stopping conclusion.”

– Tracey Garvis Graves, author of the bestselling novel On the Island

Praise for Far From Here:

“Nicole Baart is a writer of immense strength. Her lush, beautiful prose, her finely drawn characters, and especially her quirky women, all made Far From Here a book I couldn’t put down.”

– Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of Prayers for Sale and The Bride's House

Far From Here was a rare journey to a place that left me healed and renewed by the end of this beautiful, moving novel. A tribute to love in all its forms—between a man and a wife, between sisters, and among mothers and daughters—my heart ached while I read Far From Here, but it ached more when I was done and there were no more pages to turn.”

– Nicolle Wallace, New York Times bestselling author of Eighteen Acres

"Far From Here, Nicole Baart's tale of the certainties of absolute fear and the uncertainty of love whirls the reader up and never lets go.”

– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author, The Deep End of the Ocean, and Second Nature: A Love Story

“This gorgeously composed novel is a candid and uncompromising meditation on the marriage of a young pilot and his flight-fearing wife, their personal failings, and finding the grace to move beyond unthinkable tragedy. . . . Pulsing with passion and saturated with lush language, Baart's [Far From Here] will leave an indelible mark.”

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Nicole Baart is a huge talent who has both a big voice and something meaningful to say with it. Far From Here is a gorgeous book about resilient people living in a broken world, finding ways to restore hope and even beauty in the pieces.”

– Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

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