A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds
ITW THRILLER AWARD FINALIST
Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.
Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.
Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.
Praise for Arrowood
“This robust, old-fashioned gothic mystery has everything you’re looking for: a creepy old house, a tenant with a secret history, and even a few ghosts. Laura McHugh’s novel sits at the intersection of memory and history, astutely asking whether we carry the past or it carries us.”—Jodi Picoult
“An eloquently eerie tale.”—Booklist
“Poignant . . . lyrical.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A chilling, twisting tale of family, memory, and home . . . This engaging and thrilling tale about a young woman’s homecoming, the vagaries of memory, and the impact of tragedy on both a town and a family is a terrific choice for Laura Lippman and Sue Grafton readers.”—Library Journal (starred review)
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
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Excerpted from "Arrowood"
Copyright © 2017 Laura McHugh.
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Reading Group Guide
1. How has Arden’s past shaped her into the person she is at the beginning of the novel?
2. The novel is set in Keokuk, Iowa, a town on the Mississippi River. At one time it was a prosperous town, but now many of its beautiful homes are neglected and deteriorating. How does the setting contribute to the overall story?
3. Arden’s mother warned her that it was a mistake to go back to Arrowood, saying it was best left in the past, and that if Arden was smart she’d “pray for an electrical fire and a swift insurance payout.” But Arden insists that she “had loved this house beyond reason, had felt its absence like the ache of a poorly set bone.” Discuss the role that the house plays in the novel.
4. To cope with the tragedy of the past, Arden’s mother rewrites history, pushing down her emotional pain and refusing to acknowledge the family’s loss. Toward the end of the novel, Arden says, “I couldn’t cauterize my wounds as my mother had done.” Can you relate to this coping mechanism? Compare and contrast Arden’s way of dealing with painful memories to her mother’s.
5. There’s a saying that you can’t go home again. What do you think it means? How does it apply to Arden’s situation? What do you think of her decision to stay in Keokuk and let go of Arrowood?
6. When asked why solving the mystery of the twins’ death was important to him, Josh says, “It’s like a riddle. . . . I hate not knowing the answer.” In what ways has Josh’s past shaped who he is as an adult? Do you think Josh’s and Arden’s analagous childhood experiences affected them in similar or different ways? How does Josh’s work with his website, Midwest Mysteries, compare to Arden’s thesis project?
7. In your opinion, who was responsible for the death of the twins?
8. Describe the relationship between Arden and Ben. Did the way it evolves in the novel surprise you? What did you expect to happen between them? Did your feelings about Ben’s mother, Mrs. Ferris, change over the course of the novel?
9. In what fundamental ways has Arden changed by the end of the novel? Do you think she will finally be able to move forward?
10. What did you think of the book’s surprise ending—-or was it a surprise? Discuss the role of memory in the novel. How are memory, truth, and nostalgia (“the bittersweet longing for a time and place left behind”) intertwined, and what impact do they have on the present--day lives of the characters? If Arden were to rework her thesis for graduate school, what would she write?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a great read. Kept my attention all the way through. Great plot and twists. Very believable characters and setting. I only wish there was a little more paranormal activity involving her sisters. But I'm a fan of ghost stories.
An Excellent Read!!!! Like another reviewer, did not figure it out (sort of) until right at the end. Very, Very Good!! Thank you.
3.5 stars They vanished when Arden was 8. They were playing outside, when she quickly went around the corner of the house to retrieve something and when she came back, her twin 21-month old sisters were gone. She remembers seeing a gold car, it was moving down the street with her sisters inside, that was the last memory she had of her sisters. The police investigated the man who owned that gold car but he was clean. His name was Singer and an accusation like that, can be devastating for a person living in a small town in Iowa. Singer is a bitter man, there has been no hard evidence to accuse him of this unsolved crime and now, his life has been destroyed. Josh is a writer who is trying to write a novel about cold cases and wants to include the kidnapping of Violet and Tabitha in it. With a personal connection to unsolved cases, Josh contacts Arden when she arrives back at the family home in Iowa. Arden has recently received the family home as part of her inheritance but didn’t realize what shape the home was in. It’s been 15 years since the abduction, Arrowood, the family home looks almost the same since she walked out the door to go to college. Although Heaney has been taking care of the house, tending to the maintenance while it stood empty, problems still occur. Not much has changed inside the house while Arden was gone, it is as if time stood still. Josh wants to move forward with his book so he needs to talk to Arden about the abduction, but he has questions that need answers. Arden wants to talk to Singer, she wants her questions answered. Singer wants to ask Arden a few questions. Lots of questions to be answers which leads to reexamining the past. Did something happen in the past that was ignored that should have been addressed? I thought this novel had a great underlying story but I found the novel to be slow in parts until the end and then I felt everything came rushing out, all the pieces were laid out on the table and they fit perfectly together. I thought the ending was fantastic and I enjoyed how it all came together. I had no inkling on how things would turn out and when the big reveal came, I don’t think there was any hints in the novel for this outcome either. It was such a surprise. I really enjoyed the authors novel, The Weight of Blood as I had a hard time putting that novel down and I was hoping this novel would be the same. I liked that this novel took place in my home state Iowa and that the author referenced many of the stores/restaurants that are in this region. I liked the nostalgia of the novel, how Arden comes back to her childhood home and everything has remained the same. Her childhood room, the furnishings, and the Christmas decorations that were there for her so she can relive her past. I really loved the history of the house, I feel that brought warmth to the novel and put it all together. This wasn’t as good as her first novel but I will continue to look for books by Laura McHugh.
Arrowood is sort of difficult for me to review. I liked it, but for the most part I wasn't left with the OMG I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT feeling. Part mystery, part ghost story, Arrowood is the story of Arden Arrowood. After the loss of her two year old twin sisters when she was just eight years old, she's spent the last twenty years stumbling through life. I don't want to say too much, but the disappearance of her sisters set the stage for her entire life. What was cool about this story was that it was a ghost story, without being a ghost story. There are no actual ghosts or paranormal investigators looking for cold spots, but there are plenty of spooky happenstances that occur in the house which the reader is led to believe is the work of ghosts. That was pretty cool. The reader can decide if ghosts are at work or not. As far as the mystery, as we get to know Arden and the cast of characters around her, everyone becomes a suspect. There were so many red herrings, any one of them could have done it. I was actually surprised by the actual ending - and it's a doozey of an ending! I wish I could pinpoint exactly what wasn’t working for me. It could be all of the time Arden spent reflecting on her past. I like a book to be told in the present, but a lot of this book was Arden reflecting on her childhood friendships, the loss of her sisters, her time at college, and so on. Every scene was important to the story, and I can't think of another way to get the information across, but I think it pulled this readers attention away from the book at times. In the end, I did enjoy this story but I don't think it's going to be one that stays with me long after I've read it. END NOTE: I think this would be a really interesting book for a book club to discuss. In fact, I sort of wish now that I belonged to a book club so we could dissect this book as a group!
I read a review of book and purchased based on review. I found the book lacking. The storyline was all over the place. A young woman returns to her family ancestral home. She inherited the home and there is mystery to the home. Her young twin sisters had disappeared when she was eight years old and she witnessed their abduction. I will leave it at that. Too many characters and not Likeable characters.
in the wind from the back window. Fast forward to now, after many moves with her inadequate parents, her father has died and she has inherited the magnificent, historic family mansion Arrowood and returns to Keokuk, the place where her twin sisters went missing all those years ago. I like mysteries but am too much of a chicken little to read horror stories, this is the perfect mystery for me. I found myself solving the mystery only to be second guessing myself pages later. Laura McHugh is an excellent author, this girl can write! She makes you feel as though you are actually there, smelling the Fall air, the musty areas of the house, feeling the chill of the autumn air. She captures the essence and emotions of the characters through her excellent descriptions. This book is eloquent, thought provoking and brutally honest, it will keep you guessing until the end with just the right amount of mystery. These types of books aren't meant to be feel good books, but by the end it left me with a sense of feeling good for all the characters. I'd recommend this one.
At age 8, Arden Arrowood was there the day her twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, just under 2 years of age, vanished. Arden said they were kidnapped by a man in a gold car. At the time, her family was living at Arrowood. Now at age 25, after the death of her father, Arden finds that she has inherited Arrowood, the huge family home built many years ago and located on a bluff on the Mississippi River in the town of Keokuk. Once a very prosperous town with large mansions, it has lost many businesses and become rather rundown. No one has lived in Arrowood since the family moved away not long after the disappearance of the twins. After an exhaustive search, the authorities were never able to find the girls. Moving back to the home reopens many memories of Arden’s childhood there and makes her even more determined to find out what happened to her sisters. She meets Josh whose goal in life is to solve cold cases. The information he shares reopens old wounds but also makes her question more things. Her childhood friend and next door neighbor, Ben, still lives in town as does his mother. As the Arrowood family has been a part of the town for well over 100 years, they are well known and there is a lot of history here. We meet people from the past and wonder if they know anything about the disappearance of the girls. The house itself is rather spooky but Arden is not afraid to live there. As more clues come to light, we think we know who was responsible. I suspected the truth at one time but other clues seemed to knock that out. Do come and read this enthralling story and see if you can solve the mystery. It will truly keep you guessing right up to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope other readers will as well.
A family is torn apart after the disappearance of the twins. Arden comes back to the home where the twins disappeared, and her life will never be the same. Josh gets her thinking about what she remembers until she starts looking at other people and thinking about what others tell her to get to the truth. The truth is revealed, and Arden must learn to accept everything. I liked this story and recommend this mystery. I had an opportunity to read this story through Netgalley.
For the most part, I thought this was a pretty good story. However, there were numerous times when the story would take off and my heart was pumping, it was all good. Then, bam, it would slow down. There was several times that it did this. And when it did, it not only took away from the story, but it really didn't add to the story either. The main plot together with the twists was definitely a good read. And was definitely entertaining. I just didn't like the stop/start part. Thanks Random House and Net Galley for my free e-galley in exchange for an honest review
Arden returned to her childhood home of Arrowood, inherited from her father. She hasn't been there since the tragic abduction of her younger twin sisters, when she was a child. That tragic event has tormented her all her life, since Arden never knew the twins' fate. Now, with the help of a cold case investigator she's thrust back into the mystery. A haunting and suspenseful mystery/romance. Enjoyed the twists and turns intwined in the characters and the cold case! Missed getting the feel for some characters. Good read! 3 1/2 stars. Book free thru Netgalley for honest review.