The Years That Followed

A Novel

LIST PRICE $12.99

About The Book

Acclaimed international bestseller Catherine Dunne’s thrilling US debut is the story of two wronged women bent on revenge at all costs, and “a page-turner that’s both poignant and satisfying” (Booklist).

Revenge is sweeter than regret…

Dublin. Calista is young, beautiful, and headstrong. When she falls in love with the charming, older Alexandros and moves to his native Cyprus, she could never imagine that her whirlwind courtship would lead to a dark and violent marriage. But Calista learns to survive. She knows she will find peace when she can finally seek retribution.

Madrid. Pilar grew up with very little means in rural Spain and finally escaped to a new life. Determined to leave poverty behind her, she plunges into a life of working hard and saving money. Enchanted by an older man, Pilar revels in their romance, her freedom, and accruing success. She’s on the road to achieving her dreams. Yet there is one thing that she is still searching for, the one thing she knows will make her truly happy.

Sweeping across the lush European backdrops of Spain, Greece, and Ireland, The Years That Followed is a gripping, modern telling of a classic story. As two wronged women plot for revenge, their intricately crafted schemes send shockwaves through their families that will echo for many generations to come.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Years That Followed includes an introduction and discussion questions. 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

It is 1966. Calista is seventeen, beautiful and headstrong. She meets the handsome, much older Alexandros, and in an instant, her whole life changes. Alexandros is exotic, magnetic—and rich. He sweeps Calista off her feet. She leaves her safe, affluent Dublin home for a new life in Cyprus alongside her new husband and his family, who treat her with some suspicion.

Meanwhile, Pilar is in Madrid. Desperate to leave the grinding poverty of her life in rural Extremadura, she moves to the capital. There, she meets a man who offers her excitement and opportunity. Petros charms Pilar and she begins to imagine a future for both of them, together, although she knows it’s impossible.

Unknown to both women, tragic events are unfolding that will inextricably link their lives in a way that neither could have imagined. These events will change them and their families forever.

Inspired by Greek myth, The Years That Followed is a compelling tale of two women, thousands of miles apart, whose lives are thrown into turmoil by the power of love—and the desire for revenge.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Calista and Pilar come from very different backgrounds. The former has grown up with all the comforts of affluence; the latter with all the particular challenges of poverty. In what ways might Calista’s wealth have influenced the choices she makes as a young woman? And how has poverty helped to shape Pilar’s view of the world?

2. The novel takes the ancient story of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra as its inspiration. Clytemnestra lived in an age when women’s voices were rarely heard in the public sphere. Their individual and collective stories were regarded as unimportant. Her modern counterpart, Calista, imposes a similar kind of silence on herself, regarding the difficulties she has in her relationship with Alexandros, particularly when he turns violent. How is this tradition of female silence dealt with in the novel? Calista begins to find her voice eventually, through her own independent work. How significant is the notion of work and economic independence for both Calista and Pilar?

3. Calista hears, at a distance, about the new movement in California for women’s liberation in the 1970s. In what ways is her life different from the life of a twenty-something young woman in 2016?

4. Pilar, on the other hand, knows nothing about the movement for women’s liberation. In the novel, she strikes out for her own freedom in many different ways. How does she achieve her goals, and what makes her life so different from Calista’s?

5. Maroulla and Petros are both products of their upper-class, privileged existence. In what ways do their behavior help to perpetuate the values of their social class?

6. Alexandros is a violent man and Calista suffers extreme domestic abuse at his hands. What do you understand about the dynamic of domestic violence, as illustrated by their relationship within the novel? Why does Calista feel that she is somehow to blame? What is it that often traps women in such relationships, making them stay much longer than they should?

7. Motherhood is a central theme in the novel: the joy of having children and the grief of losing them. How powerful a motivating force is motherhood in Calista’s search for revenge? And what is your view of the other mothers in the novel—specifically María-Luisa and Maroulla?

8. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said that if one is bent on seeking revenge, then one “must dig two graves.” How do you view this in relation to what becomes of Calista by the end of the novel?

9. Pilar performs the function of the Greek Chorus in this novel. In what ways does the trajectory of her life shed light on the choices made by Calista? In what ways might her life be seen as a commentary on the fate of Calista?

10. Childhood is a formative time, psychologically and emotionally. How would you describe the childhood influences on the characters in the novel, and in what ways are these influences visible in the adults they later become? And what, in your view, will be the fate of Omiros as he steps across the threshold into adulthood?

About The Author

Photograph by Noel Hillis

Catherine Dunne is the author of nine novels including The Things We Know Now, which won the Giovanni Boccaccio International Prize for Fiction in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. She was recently long-listed for the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction Award 2015. Her work has been translated into several languages. She lives in Dublin.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 2016)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501135675

Raves and Reviews

Irish novelist Dunne makes her U.S. debut with this intricate saga...Dunne reveals the brutal power of the seduction[and] the redemptive qualities of children (and the devastation that comes with their loss) factor into all the lives in this tale. Calista and Pilar are wonderful characters to watch develop as they weather this theme and as they work to define and enrich themselves against steep, cruel odds. Lived-in, hard-earned feminism swirled with a noir tone and dark turns makes for a great read. 

– Kirkus

"Exciting, elegant, urgent, true – Catherine Dunne’s writing is all of these things, and a lot more. She really is one of Ireland’s best novelists."

– Roddy Doyle (Winner of the Man Booker Prize)

"Catherine Dunne knows, like no other writer, how to illuminate the intimate, daily, domestic lives of ordinary women and their families."

– Isabella Bossi Fedrigotti

Previous praise for Catherine Dunne:

“Dunne has written a page turner: compelling, edgy, fast paced.”—Irish Times

“It is a triumph of the ordinary. When it comes to an end, you feel you’ve lost your best friend.”— Irish Independent

“A compulsive page-turner…[written in] her by now trademark elegant and intelligent prose.”— The Irish Times

“Replete with her storytelling skills. . .Dunne’s writing is captivating.”—Irish Independent

“Catherine Dunne has a great talent for making the minutiae of life fascinating and for exploring the emotional background of her characters with great finesse.”—Sunday Tribune

“Catherine Dunne writes about ordinary people, but in her novels their lives are extraordinary.”—Sunday Tribune

“Dunne has a clever knack of turning ordinary lives into compelling fiction.”—Irish Post

“Highlights the exceptional and unfathomable depths of what we nonchalantly dismiss as the ordinary, the normal, the everyday. In the deft hands of Dunne, the ordinary becomes story-worthy.”— Irish Times

“Dunne writes compellingly about obsessive love, showing how apparently normal states of mind can shade into madness.”—The Times

“A flawless novel.”—The Express

“A hugely gratifying book; something to feed the spirit again and again.”—Irish Independent

Irish novelist Dunne makes her U.S. debut with this intricate saga...Dunne reveals the brutal power of the seduction[and] the redemptive qualities of children (and the devastation that comes with their loss) factor into all the lives in this tale. Calista and Pilar are wonderful characters to watch develop as they weather this theme and as they work to define and enrich themselves against steep, cruel odds. Lived-in, hard-earned feminism swirled with a noir tone and dark turns makes for a great read. 

– Kirkus

"Exciting, elegant, urgent, true – Catherine Dunne’s writing is all of these things, and a lot more. She really is one of Ireland’s best novelists."

– Roddy Doyle (Winner of the Man Booker Prize)

"Catherine Dunne knows, like no other writer, how to illuminate the intimate, daily, domestic lives of ordinary women and their families."

– Isabella Bossi Fedrigotti

Previous praise for Catherine Dunne:

“Dunne has written a page turner: compelling, edgy, fast paced.”—Irish Times

“It is a triumph of the ordinary. When it comes to an end, you feel you’ve lost your best friend.”— Irish Independent

“A compulsive page-turner…[written in] her by now trademark elegant and intelligent prose.”— The Irish Times

“Replete with her storytelling skills. . .Dunne’s writing is captivating.”—Irish Independent

“Catherine Dunne has a great talent for making the minutiae of life fascinating and for exploring the emotional background of her characters with great finesse.”—Sunday Tribune

“Catherine Dunne writes about ordinary people, but in her novels their lives are extraordinary.”—Sunday Tribune

“Dunne has a clever knack of turning ordinary lives into compelling fiction.”—Irish Post

“Highlights the exceptional and unfathomable depths of what we nonchalantly dismiss as the ordinary, the normal, the everyday. In the deft hands of Dunne, the ordinary becomes story-worthy.”— Irish Times

“Dunne writes compellingly about obsessive love, showing how apparently normal states of mind can shade into madness.”—The Times

“A flawless novel.”—The Express

“A hugely gratifying book; something to feed the spirit again and again.”—Irish Independent

“[A] page-turner that’s both poignant and satisfying.” 

– Booklist

"Both women are nuanced, sympathetic characters whose lives and loves are well developed throughout this darkly compelling story."

 

– Publishers Weekly

“Riveting, psychologically astute . . . [a] fine novel [with] depth and weight.” 

 

– The Providence Journal (Rhode Island)

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