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Another Way to Fall Reading Group Guide

Another Way to Fall Reading Group Guide

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A reading group guide for Amanda Brooke's unputdownable novel, ANOTHER WAY TO FALL.
A reading group guide for Amanda Brooke's unputdownable novel, ANOTHER WAY TO FALL.

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Categories:Book Excerpts
Published by: HarperCollinsPublishersUK on Nov 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Another Way to Fall – Reading Group Guide Another Way to Fall is an emotional but ultimately uplifting novel about

how we would chose to live our lives, if we could. Emma has battled her cancer for three long years, enduring everything with bravery and hope. But one day, Emma is told that they’ve reached the end of the road: for here onwards, her diagnosis is terminal. While her friends and family are devastated with anger and grief, Emma suddenly realises that with so much left undone, she must find a way to live the life of which she has always dreamed. She begins to write the story of her time unlived, but as her body and mind start to weaken, the line between fiction and reality starts to blur. Can Emma hold on to life – and love – long enough for her story to take on a life of its own?

Questions for the author 1. What was your inspiration for Emma’s story? Another Way to Fall was inspired by my son, Nathan. Without him, I wouldn’t be an author at all but this story in particular has been drawn from my experiences as a mother caring for a child with cancer. The working title for the novel was ‘Autumn child,’ and came from a poem I had written when Nathan was in the midst of his battle against leukaemia but the premise for the story came from my own feelings after my son died. He was only three years old and I was left wondering what he would have made from his life if only he’d had the chance. Writing Another Way to Fall gave me the opportunity to take a character who’s own life is being cut short and give her the freedom to create that perfect and, more importantly, complete life. It was a voyage of discovery for both of us. 2. This is your second novel, how did you find writing this in comparison to your first one? When I was writing Yesterday’s Sun, I hoped but never really believed that it would one day be published. By the time I started writing Another Way to Fall, I had a publishing contract but it wasn’t only the pressure of working to a deadline that made the task daunting, it was the subject matter. It was hard for me to knowingly create a character who had a terminal illness and it felt like such a responsibility – to take what is such a serious subject matter and write as if I knew what it was like to have a brain tumour. It felt arrogant almost and took many rewrites before I was comfortable with how I was portraying Emma and I can only hope I have done justice to those who fight her kind of battles in real life. 3. Your books are quite the tear-jerkers – is this something you set out with in mind? I started creative writing as a way to express myself when my son was ill and then carried on writing to escape the unimaginable grief after he died, so you might be forgiven for wondering why I would want to write such emotional storylines. I suppose it goes back to the old advice of writing about what you know and for me it was also therapeutic, even cathartic at times. And I think it’s good for the soul to have a good cry now and again although I do try to make sure my novels are uplifting too.

4. Emma’s dream is to live in the country and raise her family after travelling the world – if you could do anything at all, what would you do? As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting in bed with a laptop on my knee. I have to squeeze in my writing where I can as I have a day job so if I could create a perfect world for myself then I would be writing full-time, sitting in a cosy cottage with a perfect view of rolling countryside, craggy mountains or out to sea (I’m not picky). If I could drag myself away, I’d take my daughter to see the kind of sights Emma imagined but I’m a bit of a home bird so coming home would always be top of my list. 5. Is Emma’s character based on anyone in particular? Do you think readers will relate to her? Emma wasn’t based on anyone specific, in fact I don’t think she’s even the character I imagined when I first started writing Another Way to Fall. I only started to know her as I went along and was surprised how emotionally attached to her I became and I was really proud of my Emma by the end of that last draft. She was an average girl who was forced to accept how unfair life could be. She faced her illness with incredible dignity and strength but she wasn’t superhuman, she had a vulnerable side and she had her faults and I think it’s this combination that makes her so easy to relate to. None of us can be strong all the time but we’d like to think that, for the sake of those we love, we can be strong enough when it matters. 6. What would you like the reader to take away from this novel? I realise that Another Way to Fall is going to make many readers cry but I hope it will also be an uplifting and life-affirming read. Emma didn’t get to live her life to the full, some people don’t, even children, and none of us are immune to the twist of fate that can turn lives upside down and take away the things we took for granted. If I would want readers to take away anything away from this novel then it would be to appreciate what we have today and find happiness where we can. 7. Can you tell us about your next book? My third novel is called Where I Found You. It’s the story of two expectant mums who meet by chance at the side of a lake in their local park. Maggie and Elsa both love to sit on the same bench which holds the history of their lives and has borne witness to their individual hopes, fears and heartaches. Their lives become enmeshed as the secrets of the past rise to the surface and it’s Maggie who has to help Elsa find her happy ending before it’s too late.

Reading Group Questions

1. Discuss the role of the shopkeeper in the novel. 2. Emma makes the decision at the beginning of the novel to stop fighting and testing new treatments. Did you understand her motivation here? And how do you think you would feel if you were in Meg’s shoes? 3. What is Ben’s role in the novel? 4. Ben and Emma get married, even though Emma doesn’t have long left. Is this the ultimate romantic gesture or something that will make it harder for Ben and the rest of the family to let go of? 5. How is the act of writing a cathartic process for Emma? 6. Does Emma’s story inspire you to change your life? How? 7. How did you feel after finishing the novel? Would you recommend it?

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