GOOD NIGHT, MR. WODEHOUSE

Faith Sullivan

Top Ten Book of 2015 in the Wall Street Journal, and Winner of the Midwest Book Awards

and the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Cape Ann, comes a novel of friendship, survival, and the sustaining bonds between a reader and her most beloved author.

In Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, Faith Sullivan returns to Harvester, Minnesota—the setting of her bestseller The Cape Ann—to tell the story of Nell Stillman, an ordinary woman with an extraordinary life.

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Top Ten Book of 2015 in the Wall Street Journal, and Winner of the Midwest Book Awards

and the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Cape Ann, comes a novel of friendship, survival, and the sustaining bonds between a reader and her most beloved author.

In Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, Faith Sullivan returns to Harvester, Minnesota—the setting of her bestseller The Cape Ann—to tell the story of Nell Stillman, an ordinary woman with an extraordinary life.

Nell’s road has not been easy: a complicated marriage; a widowhood spent longing for her congressman lover; the responsibility of caring for her son, a shell-shocked WWI hero. But throughout, Nell finds solace and strength in her deep and lasting friendships, and in the rich inner life her reading allows. Whether her days bring joy or turmoil, Nell ends each evening by visiting her lifelong literary companions, including Chekhov, Austen, and especially the light-hearted and gentlemanly P.G. Wodehouse.

Spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse demonstrates the power of great novels to transform, and even save, our lives.

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  • Milkweed Editions
  • Paperback
  • July 2016
  • 456 Pages
  • 9781571311122

Buy the Book

$16.00

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  • Milkweed Editions
  • Hardcover
  • September 2015
  • 456 Pages
  • 9781571311115

Buy the Book

$26.00

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About Faith Sullivan

Faith Sullivan is the author of seven award-winning novels including the national bestseller, The Cape Ann. Sullivan was born and raised in southern Minnesota, and has visited with well over 1,000 book clubs. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband.

Praise

Her novels are a reliably inviting world, full of friendly faces and intimate dramas. However you first make your way to Harvester, you’ll want to return.”—The Wall Street Journal

Sullivan describes small-town life through the eyes of an intelligent, generous narrator who fights off gossip, pettiness and tragedy with compassion, perseverance and forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want to spend a late-summer afternoon or two in the company of such a person?

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Reading Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, I was reminded of the extraordinary novels of the late, great William Maxwell. Here too are large passions, sweeping love affairs, and deep friendships. A beautiful and profound novel.”—Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

“Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse is told with Faith Sullivan’s trademark warmth, wit and wisdom. Readers, prepare to be captivated.”—Lorna Landvik, author of Angry Houswives Eating Bon Bons

Discussion Questions

Harvester is a typical small town, complete with both close-knit bonds and an insidious gossip mill. How do these two characteristics affect one another? As the balance between them shifts with changing circumstances, how does each influence the trajectory of Nell’s life?

Nell uses P.G. Wodehouse’s novels as a means to survive loss and hardship. What about these novels does she find so comforting? What role do these books play in her relationships with others?

Nell receives a series of cryptic letters after Elvira leaves town. What effect do these letters have on Nell? Who do you think the sender is, and does his or her specific identity matter?

Letters have a powerful influence on the progression of Nell’s story. What is the significance of the fact that so often, words on a page are driving forces in her life?

Nell’s husband Bert begins the narrative by shaming Nell for being a Catholic woman who “enjoys the bedroom.” How do diverse faith traditions affect the town’s perceptions of and relationships with different characters in the book?

Throughout the book, the narrator changes to show Nell’s life from a variety of perspectives, including those of Hilly, Elvira, and Juliet. How do these shifts affect the way we see Nell?

Nell raises Hilly to be a gentle, loving boy. How does this upbringing influence him throughout his life?

Nell ages more than sixty years in Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. What do you think are the most defining moments for her character’s growth and evolution?

Over time, Nell’s concept of and feelings about the institution of marriage become increasingly complicated. Considering the historical context, what does it take for her to live out her convictions?

From the opening page, Nell is presented as highly independent. In what ways does this independence express itself differently throughout her life? What outside circumstances enable or support these choices, both large and small?

In many ways, this is a novel about different kinds of affection—between parents and children, between friends, between lovers. How do the characters’ loyalties to these various relationships shift over time, and what effect does this loyalty have on their own lives?

If Nell were alive today, what books would she read for comfort, inspiration, and strength?