The name of the game is revenge—no matter the cost—in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.
Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.
Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.
No one, that is, except Kerrie.
Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel bursting with twists and turns and plenty of suspense.
Pretty Revenge PROLOGUE Not many people can isolate the singular moment in their life when things veered off course. When suddenly their existence—which may not have been perfect, but was at least reliable—abruptly swerved into oncoming traffic. My moment could have been the day my parents died. Or when I realized I’d never had a true friend.
But those aren’t the days I’m thinking of.
Believe me, I know what I did was wrong. Or, at a minimum, I know it was immoral. I mean, I lied to the police. Still, my intentions were honest. Really, they were.
In fact, I remember everything about that night—the way the streets were slick with milky fog. The way a steady breath of air whistled in my ears. The way the chill infested my body as I stopped in front of her house, with its sagging rain gutters and weedy lawn.
I knew the house well. I had a direct view of it from my second-floor bedroom, where I’d lived for nearly all of my twelve years. I’d watched the splintered front door dangle from a pair of corroded hinges and sway in the slightest breeze. I’d mourned the three cats that were buried under crooked gravestones in the strip of a front yard. And I’d spent hours imagining what was concealed in their decrepit shed, nailed shut by an X of reticent wooden planks.
I’d pitied the girl who lived there, with her silky red hair and tenacious blue eyes, but I’d also admired her. She was everything I wasn’t and everything I wished I could be.
The problem was that I was so foolishly desperate for a friend, so eager to soothe the sting of loneliness, that when she showed up on my doorstep, I let her in, no questions asked.
I just wanted someone to see me for a change. Is that so much to ask?
I guess so.
Because my actions that night changed our lives forever.
This reading group guide for Pretty Revenge includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your conversation. We hope that these ideas will enrich your dialogue and increase your enjoyment of the book.
The name of the game is revenge.
Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can pinpoint the exact moment when her life veered off course—the ill-fated night she was wronged by her childhood role model. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the woman who destroyed her life on television, she devises a plan. Kerrie knows the risks—but she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.
Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.
No one, that is, except Kerrie.
Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel that explores just how far someone will go for vengeance.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. Both Kerrie (Olivia) and Jordan (Jordana) assume new, invented identities to move on from their pasts. Discuss each woman’s reasoning for assuming a new identity and how these reasons are similar or different.
2. Early in the book, Kerrie shares something her Nana used to say: “Senseless revenge will whip its neck and snap you on the bottom” (p. 5). Discuss the different revenge plots in the novel. Do you think Kerrie’s reasons for revenge against Jordana are sensible? By the novel’s end, do you think she succeeds in her revenge?
3. As part of their work in the marriage concierge business, Jordana and Kerrie see their fair share of different relationships and arrangements. Describe what marriage and love look like in their industry. Of the couples and marriages represented, do any seem happy or healthy to you? Which ones? Why or why not?
4. Financial security is a major motive for Jordana, which is juxtaposed with her role in serving clients for whom money is no object. Discuss the different levels of wealth among the characters. Do you agree with Jordana’s determination for financial security? Why or why not?
5. Jordana says that “happiness isn’t always a choice.” Do you agree with this sentiment? Why or why not?
6. As a group, discuss what a marriage means to you. If you are married, what defines your relationship with your partner? Do you have an overbearing mother/mother-in-law like Caroline. When planning your wedding, did find yourself anxious over everything like Alexa? If you are not yet married, describe the relationship you hope to be in and what you value in a partner.
7. When Kerrie comes clean and admits her reasons for being in New York to Sara, the two devise a plan. Discuss Sara’s willingness to be involved and her desire to return to work. Can you relate to her trouble finding work in her early years of motherhood? Has anyone in your book group taken time off to build or care for their family? Consider the pros and cons of giving up work to become a stay-at-home parent and vice versa.
8. Further to the above, mothers and motherhood are represented in many forms in Pretty Revenge. As a group, compare and contrast the different family dynamics and relationships that exist. Is Caroline similar to Sara? Is Jordana’s mother similar to Caroline? Discuss how the characters view their parents or the act of parenting.
9. Kerrie’s past with Jordana is finally revealed in Chapter 26. Are you surprised by what happened between them? Do you think Jordana is responsible for Kerrie’s grandmother’s death? Why or why not?
10. Considering the dual nature of decisions and their impact, there are always two sides to every story and every memory. What do you think about Jordana’s decision to take the ring and money? Do you think Kerrie would have seen things differently if she were older, and if her grandmother had survived?
11. Why do you think Jordana’s mother is so insistent on having her reunite with her father? Do you think Jordana is right to want to avoid it? Are you surprised when Jordana and her mother reconnect in the final scene?
12. At the end of your discussion, consider Pretty Revenge in the context of other popular female-driven thrillers, like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Consider reading the wedding announcements or Vows column in your local newspaper. Discuss as a group what you think of the weddings that have happened in your area. Are they as over-the-top as the receptions Jordana Pierson’s company creates?
3. Consider making mood boards for your own wedding—or imaginary wedding, if you could do it over again—if you had the budget that Jordana’s clients have. Clip images from a magazine or create a Pinterest board and share as a group. Discuss the differences between the wedding of your dreams and the wedding of your reality. Would you do it the way Jordana’s clients could, if you had the chance? Why or why not?
4. Visit Emily Liebert’s website at www.emilyliebert.com to learn more about Emily and connect with her on social media.
Emily Liebert is the author of four novels and has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Ladies’ Home Journal, People, HuffPost, and many more. Emily lives with her husband and sons in Connecticut.
"A riveting tale of subterfuge, betrayal, and retribution set among the glittering world of New York’s elite.”
– Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You
"Old wounds reopen with a vengeance in the latest from Emily Liebert, an irresistible page turner set against the glamorous backdrop of moneyed New York. Pretty Revenge twists its way through a riveting tale of blame and obsession, where revenge isn’t as neat or pretty as it seems. The perfect summer beach read."
– Kimberly Belle, author of Dear Wife
“Liebert’s forte is creating authentic female characters, as she does here with those in both primary and secondary roles, while building suspense by withholding until late in the book the details of just what Jordan did to Kerrie 18 years earlier. A psychological thriller with a surprising resolution.”
“Liebert’s skillful character development illustrates the complexity of human motivations and encourages sympathy for unlikely characters. Aficionados of the TV show Revenge or those who enjoy contemporary psychological suspense set in an affluent society will want to consider.”
– Library Journal
"Liebert (Those Secrets We Keep) delivers a first-rate thriller in this irresistible tale of a wedding planner with a dodgy past and the longtime enemy who aims to expose her secrets.. Fans of Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny will devour this expertly paced novel."