Synopses & Reviews
From the internationally renowned author of In a Different Voice, a remarkable debut novel: a love story that introduces an unforgettable character in modern fiction, Kyra, and a superb new fiction writer, Carol Gilligan. Kyra is an architect designing a new city, a woman of humor and courage living in a vibrant world of family, friends, and colleagues and determined to break out of old structures. When she meets Andreas, a director staging an innovative production of Tosca, neither wants to fall in love-and yet, inevitably, they do. Their story takes us from Cambridge and an island off the coast of Massachusetts to Vienna, Thailand, Cyprus, and Wales as Kyra seeks the deepest truths about herself, other people, loyalty, and love. This reaching leads her to commit singular acts that startle and shock, inspiring new freedom for others as well as for Kyra herself. Rich with Carol Gilligans signature gifts-emotional wisdom, subtle renderings of the intricacies of human relationship, conflict and choice, and lyrical prose-Kyra is a luminous, magnificent novel by a writer realizing the range of her powers.
About the Author
Carol Gilligan is a psychologist and writer who lives in New York City and in the Berkshires. Her ground-breaking book, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Womens Development, has been translated into eighteen languages. With her students, she co-authored and co-edited four books on womens psychology and girls development: Meeting at the Crossroads, Between Voice and Silence, Making Connections, and Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance. At Harvard, where she was the first Graham Professor of Gender Studies, her award-winning research led to the founding of the universitys Center on Gender and Education. She is now University Professor at New York University.
Reading Group Guide
1. Kyra says, “I dont think you can fall in love with a man unless you fall in love with his work.” Does Andreas have to fall in love with Kyras work?
2. Kyra tells Anna that with Andreas she feels a freedom she has never felt with a man before. Andreass feelings for Kyra are also new (“I love you in a way I have never loved anyone before”). Does the strength of their feelings also, paradoxically, explain some of their reluctance to become involved with each other?
3. In their conversation about love, Kyra, Anna, and Roya each say things that surprise them. Did anything they said surprise you?
4. From the beginning, Greta intuits that in cutting herself Kyra was seeking emotional integrity. How do you understand the cutting scene? Do you believe Kyra when she says that she did not want to die but to cut through the surface to see what was real?
5. After Kyra reads the letter from her mother, Greta says, “So you know what love is.” Does this change your understanding of Kyras responses to Andreas?
6. Referring to therapy, Greta says, “You cant do this work without love.” How do you think about love in the context of a therapy relationship?
7. As an architect, Kyra is guided by the vision that to change the way people live, you have to change the structures they live in. When she casts her eye on the structure of therapy, Greta takes her concerns to heart, coming to see that people need to feel free to challenge structures that are not of their own making. At one time or another, most of the characters in the story wrestle with this question. Does this issue come up in your life?
8. When Kyra hesitates to break her vow and open herself to Andreas, Anna encourages her to do so. Why do you think she does this?
9. What do Andreass letters to Kyra tell you about him?
10. Abe, Andreass father, plays a key role in the life of Jesse, Andreass son. What do you make of this three-generational family? At critical points, both Jessie and Abe express their feelings for Kyra to Andreas. Do you see it as a strength in Andreas that he allows himself to be moved by what they say?
11. When he returns to Budapest, Andreas realizes that “what loyalty meant was no longer simple.” How does his understanding of loyalty change, and how does this alter his response to Kyra and also to his work?
12. Do you imagine the relationship between Kyra and Andreas continuing? How do you envision their future? How would you resolve the issues of love and work raised in the novel? When Andreas tells Kyra, “I want to be with you,” and then thinks how difficult this would be to arrange, can you see a good way for them to arrange it?
13. What function do dreams play in this story? Why do Kyra and Greta decide to begin their post-therapy relationship by writing each other their dreams? Do you imagine their relationship continuing? What form do you think it might take?
14. In her letter to Greta, Kyra writes, “Whats always said about my work is that I saturate my buildings with natural light. I think of Louis Kahn, ‘the shadow belongs to the light. ” Does this apply to the novel as a whole?
15. The characters in this story love to think; they give lectures, go to faculty meetings, direct operas, design cities, talk about paintings, and are passionately engaged with their projects. The history of Europe in the twentieth century has played a central role in their lives. What is the relationship between their experiences as survivors of huge historical traumas and their passion for their work and for each other?
16. The action of the story takes place on three islands- Nashawena, Cyprus, and Bardsey-as well as in the urban centers of Cambridge, Budapest, and Vienna. Do the mood and action of the story on the islands differ from those in the cities? Does being on an island affect how the characters see and feel?
17. From the opening scene at Felicias to the midnight supper on Bardsey, food is a recurring theme. What does this tell you about the characters and their way of living in the world?