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The Gravity of Birds: A Novel
by Tracy Guzeman

Published: 2013-08-06
Hardcover : 304 pages
4 members reading this now
12 clubs reading this now
3 members have read this book
New In Paperback

How do you find someone who wants to be lost?

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at ...

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Introduction

New In Paperback

How do you find someone who wants to be lost?

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

The Gravity of Birds
ONE

August 1963

Alice haunted the mossy edge of the woods, lingering in patches of shade. She was waiting to hear his Austin-Healey throttle back when he careened down the utility road separating the state park from the cabins rimming the lake, but only the whistled conversation of buntings echoed in the branches above. The vibrant blue males darted deeper into the trees when she blew her own sweet-sweet chew-chew sweet-sweet up to theirs. Pine seedlings brushed against her pants as she pushed through the understory, their green heads vivid beneath the canopy. She had dressed to fade into the forest; her hair was bundled up under a long-billed cap, her clothes drab and inconspicuous. When at last she heard his car, she crouched behind a clump of birch and made herself as small as possible, settling into a shallow depression of ferns and leaf litter. Balancing her birding diary and a book of poetry in her lap, she peeled spirals of parchment from the trunks and watched as he wheeled into the graveled parking space at the head of his property. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1) Siblings often have complicated relationships with each other. What are some of the situations complicating Alice's relationship with her sister, Natalie?

2) Discuss the role of birds in the novel, and what they are meant to symbolize.

3) Alice suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Had she not, how do you think her life might have been different? What would it have changed in the story?

4) In many ways, The Gravity of Birds is a story about different types of love: infatuation/first love, familial love, true love, love lost. Discuss the various relationships between the characters in the novel. Were you happy with the way things turned out?

Suggested by Members

In the end, did you want to know more about Natalie's story about what changed her relationship with her family or about any regrets she may have had? What about Stephen's story with his mother?
As you imagine the three panels of the triptych before they are found, what did you think they would show?
Do you think Finch ever gave Thomas' letter to Stephen?
by ccroft78248 (see profile) 01/03/15

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Captivating Story"by ccroft78248 (see profile) 01/03/15

I could not put this book down. The story unfolds and it becomes addictive with wanting to know what will happen next with Alice and Natalie and which secrets will be told. This is a great book about... (read more)

 
by bayleaf (see profile) 08/01/16

 
by veccmorgan (see profile) 07/21/16

 
by .kk (see profile) 05/31/15

 
  "The year of Bird Books"by SuzyMoots (see profile) 05/12/15

Our group voted just over 3 stars for this book and talked for a long time about it so I rounded up. We felt it caused us to think about a lot of things - especially relationships. It did seem a little... (read more)

 
  "The Gravity of Birds"by lucydog (see profile) 11/18/14

What a wonderful book! Beautiful descriptions of art and birds. Well developed multi-layered characters. The mystery of 3 lost paintings. What more could you want. Loved it!

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