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The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware

Published: 2019-08-08
Hardcover : 352 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
Ruth Ware, the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller returns with another page-turning psychological thriller.

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a ...
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Ruth Ware, the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller returns with another page-turning psychological thriller.

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Available for pre-order now.

Praise for Ruth Ware:

‘Powerfully atmospheric, unguessably twisty…I devoured it’ Louise Candlish, bestselling author of Our House

‘Dark and dramatic...part murder mystery, part family drama, altogether riveting’ A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

‘One of the best thriller writers around’ Independent

‘Agatha Christie meets The Girl on the TrainThe Sun

‘Dark, unsettling, brilliant’ HEAT

‘Deliciously dark and spooky’ Sunday Mirror

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


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Discussion Questions

1. The book opens with Rowan Caine’s desperate plea for help from prison. If you received this letter as Mr. Wrexham, would you keep reading? Is there anything she could say that would persuade you to represent her?

2. Rowan describes the Elincourt estate in detail when she visits for her interview. What is your first impression of the house? What aspects were appealing or unappealing to you?

3. The interview with Sandra is standard but revealing. What do we learn about Rowan as she tries to come up with the perfect answers? Would you say Rowan is trustworthy? What do you learn about Sandra during this initial interaction?

4. Maddie, the second oldest girl, has an unexpected reaction to Rowan’s departure and makes a terrifying proclamation: “Don’t come here. It’s not safe” (p. 74). After everything Rowan saw and learned in the previous twenty-four hours, should she have heeded Maddie’s warning? Would you have listened to Maddie?

5. Rowan has a very negative first impression of Bill Elincourt and their relationship only gets worse from there. Why is her initial reaction so strong? How would you handle the ensuing harassment by an employer?

6. Sandra and Bill leave Rowan on her first day with the kids and she struggles to reign them all in. Discuss the kids’ behavior and how Sandra’s constant check-ins affect Rowan’s authority in the house. Look specifically at the interactions on page 131 and 158.

7. Rowan believes she is finally building a relationship with Maddie and Ellie when they show her their secret garden. But when their malicious intent is exposed, Rowan, Maddie, and Ellie all react intensely. Describe each of their reactions and the emotions behind them.

8. After the house goes haywire in the middle of the night, Rowan is sleep-deprived, on edge, and paranoid, and she jumps to several rash conclusions. Are these thoughts reasonable possibilities or delusions based in fear? Imagine how you might respond in her situation.

9. The Elincourts’ housekeeper, Jean McKenzie, immediately dislikes Rowan, but it seems to run deeper than their negative first encounter. Why? Could Jean be the one tormenting Rowan at night, as she suspects?

10. Rowan is deeply disturbed by the girl in Maddie’s drawing. “Tears were streaming down her face, her mouth was open in a despairing wail, and there were red scribbles of blood on her face and on her dress” (p. 228). What do you think it represents? Do you think Rowan should have addressed this directly?

11. When Jack and Rowan break into the attic, it is much worse than they expected. Discuss their ensuing conversation. What answers does Rowan have now and what questions remain? How do you think the doll head came to be in Rowan’s lap?

12. Rowan’s opinion of Jack changes repeatedly in her short time at Heatherbrae. He began as her confidant, became her lead suspect, and finally seemed to earn her trust. Do you think he is trustworthy? Why or why not?

13. We finally learn who Rachel Gerhardt is and of her personal connection to the family. Were there any clues that led you to suspect this before the big reveal? Do you believe Rachel’s version of events as she explains them to Mr. Wrexham?

14. In the last chapter, the truth of what happened to Maddie is finally revealed. How does Ellie’s letter align with Rachel’s retelling of that night? What, if any, questions remain?

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