Queen of Broken Hearts
by Cassandra King

Published: 2007-03-06
Hardcover : 414 pages
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On Sale March 6. Special BookMovement Preview. The national bestselling author of The Same Sweet Girls and The Sunday Wife returns with another compulsively readable novel

It’s not easy being the Queen of Broken Hearts. Just ask Clare, who has willingly assumed the mantle as a ...

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On Sale March 6. Special BookMovement Preview. The national bestselling author of The Same Sweet Girls and The Sunday Wife returns with another compulsively readable novel

It’s not easy being the Queen of Broken Hearts. Just ask Clare, who has willingly assumed the mantle as a therapist specializing in helping women mend their broken hearts. Now she’s preparing to open a permanent home for the retreats she leads, on a slice of breathtaking property on the Alabama coast owned by Zoe, her former mother-in-law, a colorful eccentric who rescues hurt birds, and who teaches Clare much about love and living freely.

After Clare’s marriage ends in tragedy, her work becomes the sole focus of her life. Yet while Clare has no problem helping the women who flock to her, healing her own heart is another matter entirely. She resists the attentions of the charming and debonair Rye, even though her best friend Dory plays cupid, hoping Clare will allow herself to love again.

When Lex, a charismatic, burly sea captain, moves into town, he turns to Clare for help in recovering from a disastrous marriage of his own. Lex and Clare work together to ready her new retreat site, and by the time it is completed, Clare must decide. Can she move beyond the grief and guilt of the past, or will she remain the Queen of Broken Hearts?

A story infused with all the flavors, textures, and intrigues of a small Southern town, with a rich, resonant cast of characters, Queen of Broken Hearts is a beautifully written, unforgettable new novel by the author of The Same Sweet Girls.

Editorial Review

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Chapter One

At the exact moment the cash register dings and I open my change purse, the chain of bells on the front door of the coffee shop bangs together with a brassy clatter. I hear the sound of voices raised in greetings, a loud and hearty hello in response, and the bells jangling again as the door closes. Curious to see who’s making such an entrance, I glance over my shoulder. When I see that it’s Son Rodgers, my face flames and my heart pounds. On top of everything else that’s happened today, I go to the coffee shop for lunch, and who do I run into? One thing for sure: I have to get out of here before he sees me. It would be embarrassing for me and him and the dozen or so other folks enjoying their afternoon coffee. Instinctively, I duck my head and pull my arms close as if to make myself invisible. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the Publisher:

1. In the opening scene, Clare goes to great lengths to avoid an encounter with Son Rodgers, the husband of her best friend. What is the deeper basis of their mutual dislike? Does Dory stay with her husband in spite of his flaws, or because of them? Does her devotion suggest the complicated nature of love, or simply an unhealthy relationship? Is Son’s ultimate transformation plausible?

2. How does the setting—both the unique town of Fairhope and the Landing on Folly Creek—contribute to, impact, or enhance the story?

3. Two of the most important women in Clare’s life are Zoe Catherine, her former mother-in-law, and Haley, her daughter, yet neither are related to her by blood. Is the author making a comment on the ties that bind us to others, and if so, do you find it true to real life?

4. On a lighter note, Clare finds herself in a love triangle with two very different men. What is it about each one that appeals to her? Which man do you find most appealing, and why? Would you have made the same choice she did?

5. Explore the role of birds in the story, particularly the author’s use of them in the following elements of fiction: symbolism, comedy and tragedy, plot development (consider the colony of terns), and revelation of theme, as in the final scene.

6. Some scholars contend that myth contains the essential stories of humankind; or as Clare says to Dory, “Initiation, trial, and triumph.” How does the author explain her choice of the labyrinth and Minotaur? Can you suggest other myths and how they might have been used in a different manner?

7. About the dissolution of Haley’s marriage, Dory makes the following comment: “If Son dies before I do, or if we split the sheets, I won’t ever marry again. Why do any of us do it?” At another point, Clare states: “I have no intention of getting involved in another relationship, not after the way my last one ended,” and Lex agrees, “Going through all that crap again is the last thing I want . . .” Zoe Catherine refuses to marry her long-time lover, saying, “I get lonesome, too, but that’s no reason to get married. Lonesomest folks I know are the married ones.” Do you find the cynicism of these comments valid? Why, or why not?

8. Clare spends her life helping others heal and move on, yet can’t do the same for herself. What is it about Mack and their relationship that she is unable to let go of?

9. The Asunder Ceremony is crucial to Clare’s theory of healing, based on her assertion that “Ritual is not merely important, it’s essential.” Can you supply the Biblical quote that the word “asunder” was taken from? Is it valid to denounce the ceremony as a mockery of a holy ritual of the church?

10. The author raises disturbing questions about love and marriage, guilt and failure, fidelity and betrayal, loneliness and heartbreak. Does the final scene, with its suggestion of healing and renewal, offer any answers, or does it raise even more?

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  "queen of broken hearts"by emptynester (see profile) 03/11/08

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