The Fictioning Horror Sale

Recently Viewed clear list

Powell's Q&A | September 3, 2014

Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel

Describe your latest book. My new novel is called Station Eleven. It's about a traveling Shakespearean theatre company in a post-apocalyptic North... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304

Qualifying orders ship free.
Used Hardcover
Usually ships in 5 to 7 business days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Qty Store Section
1 Remote Warehouse General- General

Outside Valentine


Outside Valentine Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Outside Valentine is a novel told in three voices with three points of view. What are the unifying themes that tie the parts to a whole?

2. When we meet Lowell in 1991 he is a man at the crossroads whose past has caught up with him. Susan insists that he retrieve the safe-deposit box but he avoids doing so. Why has he so totally isolated himself? What prompts Lowell to reevaluate his life at this point?

3. When Susan pores over all the news items she has collected about Charlie and Caril Ann, what strikes her most is the love they share. She sees a photo where they seem all tangled up in each other. Her response is to wonder if she will ever love like that. Is Susans search for love rewarded?

4. What propels Lowell toward Susan? Does he think Susan can rescue him, and in what way? What does Susan expect to gain by saving Lowell?

5. Lowell says that he knows the murders changed his life but cannot remember who he was before. What motivates Lowell to marry Susan? He states that at the time she “was just somewhere to go.” Is Lowell capable of loving her? Of loving anyone? When Mary almost drowns at Port Saugus, he runs away. Why has he been such an absent father?

6. Like Norman Mailers Executioners Song, Ward draws a portrait of a troubled killer bound for death row. Is Charlie at all a sympathetic character? The nation was riveted to the case and seemed in favor of his execution; the warden at York where Caril Ann was confined comments that the public would be happy to see her join Charlie. Was capital punishment the right answer for his crimes?

7. When Charlie and Caril Ann first meet at the treehouse there is an instant connection and understanding. What draws them together so immediately?

8. Susans mother and Charlie both take so much work to love that they bring the whole world down around them. How are they similar?

9. One of the large issues in the novel is what people do for love. How does each of these characters behave in the face of love? What draws the women to such damaged men? Caril Ann to Charlie; Caril Anns mother to Roe; Susans mother Nils? Susan to Lowell?

10. Susan searches the Port Saugus house for clues of her mother — where she might have gone, who she really was. Does she ever find the answers shes seeking?

11. Caril Ann always denies she did anything wrong, claiming it was all Charlie. Why didnt she try to save any of the victims? Was she guilty too? Why does she refuse to take any responsibility for the killings? Does she deserve to be forgiven?

12. Susan says that you cannot escape your past; your past becomes your childrens past — things you dont deal with become your childrens dirty laundry. Each character is traumatized by the events set in motion by Charlie and Caril Ann; how do they go about healing themselves and their pasts?

Product Details

A Novel
Ward, Liza
New York
Historical fiction
Psychological fiction
Serial murders
Serial murderers
Antique dealers
Biographical fiction
General Fiction
Publication Date:
September 1, 2004
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
9.52x6.40x1.10 in. 1.31 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Interpreter of Maladies
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  3. Gilead
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  4. Waxwings Sale Hardcover $1.00
  5. Prep: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  6. Perma Red
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

Outside Valentine Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805075984 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this riveting literary suspense novel, first-timer Ward presents in lean, luminous prose a precarious world where true love can ravage as well as redeem, exploring a series of murders in Lincoln, Nebr., in the 1950s from the perspective of three narrators. After an argument with her volatile stepfather, 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate flees into the woods behind her house, where she spies (the real-life killer) red-haired Charles Starkweather, carrying a .22 rifle. From their first uneasy meeting, the girl senses that she and Starkweather are meant to be together. Ward eerily evokes a romantic union destined for disaster; the emotionally unsettled Starkweather pledges eternal love to the impressionable teen as he entangles her in murders that change their lives forever. Four years after the slayings that shook her hometown, Lincoln teenager Susan Hurst continues to pore over newspaper clippings about Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, secretly envious of their dark, desperate love. Bemused by a distant father and mercurial mother, Susan has trouble relating to peers until she meets Lowell Bowman, son of two of the murder victims. Thirty years later, Lowell Bowman, now a Manhattan art collector, remains haunted by visions of his parents' murder. He has grown apart from his wife, who pesters him about retrieving a mysterious safe deposit box. Traumatized by the past and fearful of the future, Bowman embarks on a solitary quest to examine the contents of the box and the purpose of his life. On the novel's acknowledgments page, Ward thanks her father for allowing her to explore such 'delicate material.' An already chilling novel drops a few more degrees at the unsettling admission that it's based in truth. Agent, Rob McQuilkin. (Sept.) Forecast: Ward's debut — solidly backed by Holt with a $100,000 ad/promo campaign and a 10-city author tour — should appeal to readers of true crime as well as fans of literary fiction." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A gifted writer, Ward uses simple imagery to chilling effect. A dog with a broken neck hiding under the bed after its owner has been murdered and a dead schoolgirl with her skirt pulled up...are as vivid as anything filmmakers have fashioned from the same raw material."
"Review" by , "[S]uspenseful and chilling....Ward manages to tell the tale from all sides, and astonishingly...reveals a deeply affecting story about everyone involved, including the girl who went along for the murderous ride."
"Review" by , "Liza Ward's provocative debut...delves into the lives not only of her protagonists, but also of the people related to the victims. She dissects not just the horror of these real-life crimes, but the more subtle, rippling effects on those left behind."
"Review" by , "What Ward effectively shows is that tragedy keeps on happening. But she also holds forth the possibility that love can save people. Some people."
"Review" by , "Outside Valentine has a slowly tightening noose of a plot....But while Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate's relationship is vivid in the reader's mind, the novel's other, quieter emotional struggle sadly pales in its glare."
"Review" by , "An intricate and challenging novel that examines the inner lives of men and women swept up in a devastating American crime. Ward's portraits are harrowing, heartfelt and unforgettable."
"Review" by , "Written with confidence and grace, Outside Valentine tells an astounding story about how violence can propel us apart, yes, but how it can also bring us together in unexpected ways. Liza Ward has written an utterly gripping book."
"Review" by , "Blunt, beautiful, and very scary, Outside Valentine proves that a murder doesn't end with death — it just goes on and on, staining generations, tolling across decades. It's a first novel with the weight of a tenth. Liza Ward has the ears of a wolf, the eyes of an owl, and a tongue as sharp as broken glass."
"Review" by , "A swift and beautifully written first novel about the lingering effects of violence and the power of love, to heal and to destroy. With extraordinary emotional accuracy, Liza Ward tracks the echoes of a murder across three generations and several lives, bringing them together in an ending both mysterious and musical. Outside Valentine seems to know all the secrets, and to be willing to tell them. Simply an amazing debut."
"Review" by , "Liza Ward runs a tight, thrumming line through her narrative, punching up scenes with a sharp practiced touch and bringing wise compassion to bear on the tragic events that unfold with such dark inevitability."
"Review" by , "Well-written in spite of often dubious similes, the novel with its textbook ending, at once inevitable and disturbing, packs a wallop. That it was inspired by the experiences of the author's grandparents makes its premise all the more poignant."
"Review" by , "[A]mbitious and disturbing....Grim but not gratuitous, sad but ultimately hopeful, Ward's novel is ideal for fans of Oprah's Book Club."
"Synopsis" by , Debut novelist Ward interweaves a trio of voices — haunting, dangerous, and full of longing — mysteriously linked by a shocking crime and the search to heal the past.
"Synopsis" by ,
A debut novelist interweaves a trio of voices-haunting, dangerous, full of longing-mysteriously linked by a shocking crime and the search to heal the past

Many long years have passed since the winter of blinding white when Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate drove across the hushed midwestern landscape and left a trail of blood and pain. So why does Lowell, a Manhattan collector of antiquities, still dream of what happened, despite his wife's best attempts to draw him back and offer comfort? And who is Susan, the teenager who appoints herself a detective, piecing together the story of the murders while wondering if she'll ever be loved like Starkweather loved his girl?

And then there's Caril Ann herself, who takes us back to relive the ride she swears she could not control. It began on the day Charlie first saw her, dangling her bare legs off the edge of a tree house. It ended outside Valentine, Nebraska, on that night when she still believed that life could somehow go back to being normal . . . '

Every so often a novel comes along that is capable of redeeming the losses it so devastatingly conveys. Disturbing, bittersweet, and lyrical, Liza Ward's Outside Valentine is a story of people torn apart by tragedy and yet, finally, transformed by love.

"Synopsis" by ,
Liza Ward's spellbinding first novel is told from the very different points of view of three narrators mysteriously linked by a shocking crime and their efforts to heal the past. Based on the Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate murders in Nebraska in the 1950s, Outside Valentine examines the effects of violence and the power of love as the three voices interweave and show the lingering and devastating aftershocks of murder across three generations. Mysterious and disturbing, Liza Ward's first novel is, in the words of Anita Shreve, "heartbreaking and unforgettable."

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at