Reading Group Center

The Night Sister

By Jennifer McMahon

The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Night Sister, Jennifer's gripping new novel about the dark legacy that haunts a Vermont family. 

1. Sylvie and Rose are rivals, while Piper and Margot have a close bond. What determines whether sisters get along? How do the siblings in the book compare to yours?
2. Amy, Piper, and Margot are first-rate sleuths at age twelve. What’s special about that age? Are adolescents better than their parents at seeing the truth and having an open mind?
3. Discuss the novel’s interwoven timelines. Would you rather grow up in the 21st century, the 1950s, or the 1980s? In The Night Sister, what stays the same throughout all three eras?
4. What fuels Jason’s attraction to Amy? How do his feelings about her change throughout their lifetimes?
5. How was your reading affected by Sylvie’s letters to Alfred Hitchcock, and the real-life connection to Vermont in The Trouble with Harry? How do you think Hitchcock and his staff would have responded to her letters?
6. What were your theories about Fenton? How did your opinion of him shift?
7. With echoes of Psycho’s Bates Motel, what makes the Tower Motel a powerful setting for this storyline? What did the tower represent to each generation? What did you expect the 29th room to look like?
8. Compare the novel’s three marriages: Charlotte and Clarence, Amy and Mark, Margot and Jason. What are the greatest strengths and vulnerabilities in these relationships?
9. What did you believe about the moth Rose keeps in a jar?
10. “Mare” is an Old English word, not an invention of the author; we use it when we talk about nightmares. How did you react to Oma’s lessons about mares? What do you believe about the tangible nature of evil?
11. What do you predict for Rose and Lou? As mothers, did Charlotte and Amy do the right thing?
12. At the heart of the novel is a legacy of secrecy. Are there any long-held secrets in your family? What would it take to be ostracized by your relatives?
13. How does The Night Sister enhance your experience of Jennifer McMahon’s previous novels? What is unique about the way her characters confront the unknown?