Synopses & Reviews
A waitress and now a single mother, Renata wants only to give her baby boy, Charlie, a better start. So she packs up her spare life, leaves her boyfriend behind, and heads across the country in search of a new place to begin. Settling in Boston, her life is suddenly changed by the chance meeting of two unlikely women: Eleanor, a seventy-eight year old widow who is stripping away the layers of her past, and June, an ambitious dance student who relies on a psychic to help manage her estranged relationships all the while keeping a shocking secret.
As these three resilient women of different backgrounds and ages face their own particular demons, Charlie becomes their shared center. Drawing strength from each other and the maternal bond that unites them, they soon discover that the lives they have run from just may be their saving grace....
"Crisp, clean writing...compassionately drawn characters....Matson examines the full sweep of women's lives." The New York Times Book Review
"This is an excellent girl book. The best ones capture that peculiarly female way we weave new friends into our lives from young womanhood until the end of our days. This one, with polished writing by its poet-author (a Boston College professor who received her graduate degrees from the University of Washington), rings especially true." The Seattle Times
"A contemporary novel that's as fresh as bread just out of the oven."
Atlanta Journal & Constitution
"In her first novel, Matson has created an interesting triangle of female characters. Renata, Eleanor, and June meet through a series of chance encounters, and their lives become entwined....This lyrical novel of friendship and love is very readable and enjoyable." Library Journal
"A 'hunger moon' as we learn near the end of this realistic but delicately lyrical first novel by poet (Durable Goods and Sea Level) Matson refers to the moon of February. Deep winter is indeed the apt metaphysical setting for this intricate study of the interrelated lives of three modern women of different ages and backgrounds....While Matson sticks to a fairly straightforward story line, her gifts for nuance and vivid detail emerge in the complexities and richness of each woman's sensibility. Each of the main characters has had man trouble, but Matson subtly shows how, with time, space and attentive friendship, a woman's heart can heal enough to open to a man again. The story ends in May under the promising light of the 'milk moon,' rounding out a narrative cycle that Matson, as a sort of affable Diana (goddess of the hunt, childbirth and the moon), creates from the timeless theme of the heart as a lonely hunter." Publishers Weekly
Reading Group Guide
1. The Hunger Moon
is filled with images of stripping down and accumulating. How does Suzanne Matson use these images to explore the fears and desires of Renata, Eleanor, and June?
2. How do the characters' complicated family histories help us to understand their present actions and reactions? Why is Renata so threatened by Bryan's past?
3. With which character do you most closely identify? Why?
4. What is the significance of the title The Hunger Moon?
5. What role does Charlie play for the various characters in the novel?
6. The Hunger Moon begins "Renata was happiest driving, knowing she was en route." How do notions of movement and geography play a role in the emotional landscapes of all three central characters? What has changed for Renata, psychologically, by the end of the book? How has the change come about?
7. For just one chapter near the end, the story suddenly takes Bryan's point of view. Why do you think Suzanne Matson wrote it this way?
8. Renata's story seems to end "happily." Do you think the marriage with Bryan will last? Why or what not?
9. Did you have a favorite moment in the book? What was it and why?
Reader's Guide copyright © 1999 by The Ballantine Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc.