Queen of Hearts (Martin)

The Queen of Hearts 
Kimmery Martin, 2018
Panguin Publishing
352 pp.

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart's capacity for forgiveness...

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school.

Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers—Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life—both professionally and personally—throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers.

As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Kimmery Martin won her first short story contest in the first grade, and was awarded a red stuffed elephant and publication in the school newspaper.

Her writing career then suffered an unfortunate dry spell, finally broken with the publication of the enthralling journal article Lymphatic Mapping and Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in the Staging of Melanoma, followed by the equally riveting sequel Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Pelvic Malignancies, both during medical school.

Conscious readers remained elusive, however, prompting her to wait another decade or so before trying again. This time, spurred on by a supportive husband and three constantly interfering children, she produced an entire novel.

The Queen of Hearts, exploring the startling secrets in a friendship between a cardiologist and a trauma surgeon, became an instantly beloved classic amongst three of her friends. The novel was published in the spring of 2018.

When not working on her next novel, Kimmery spends her time mothering her slew of perfect children. She’s also occupied with poorly executed household chores, working as a physician, and serving on various non-profit boards in Charlotte, North Carolina.

She exercises grudgingly, cooks inventively, reads voraciously, offers helpful book recommendations, interviews authors, publishes travel articles, and edits her son's middle grade book reviews. Finally, she is a world-class Boggle champion, which most people find to be sexy beyond all description. (From the author's website.)

Book Reviews
Martin leverages her own background as a doctor to great effect throughout.… Martin is equally insightful about many aspects of long-term female friendships, especially the blind spots that they often contain by necessity.… Martin's portrayal of the guilt born of selfishness, of knowing that a past version of yourself was capable of truly monstrous behavior, is also sharp. It's Emma's remorse that tips the novel's final third into darker territory.… But [her] story leads us to a place considerably more painful and, ultimately, affecting.
Angelica Baker - New York Times Book Review

Fans of Grey’s Anatomy are sure to enjoy this new release, a novel about friendship, success, and secrets set amid the day-to-day drama of a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Southern Living

Martin’s extraordinary sensitivity and empathy shines through during moments of crisis, which draw out the subtle, complex shades of her characters. The novel is emotionally exhausting—partly because of its accurate depiction of the relentless 100-mile-an-hour pace of the lives of working mothers—but ultimately because it tests the furthest limits of forgiveness and understanding.… [A] thrilling read, and a fascinating look into the medical world. It’s an impressive debut, full of warmth and excitement.
Harvard Crimson

Emotional and difficult to put down, Martin’s excellent story of friendship is shrewdly plotted and contains a cast of flawed, rich, believable characters. The realistic and vivid medical angle (Martin is an ER doctor) adds to the novel’s appeal.
Publishers Weekly

Kimmery Martin’s excellent debut novel serves up an irresistible mix of romance, ER drama, friendship and betrayal. Martin, a physician herself, writes in a clear and lively way…. In her hands, dramatic hospital scenes and routine kitchen conversations are equally compelling.

Martin’s debut novel, about pediatric cardiologist Zadie Anson and trauma surgeon Emma Colley, is a medical drama executed with just the right balance of intensity, plot twists, tragedy, and humor.… A remarkably absorbing read.

A secret from two doctors' pasts may put what they cherish most under the knife: their friendship.… Martin distills medical jargon into digestible metaphors and sets scenes as carefully as her characters scrub for surgery.… A book about female friendships that unapologetically wears its heart on its sleeve.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. Did Zadie and Emma’s friendship through the years always make sense to you or were you ever surprised they remained such good friends?

2. We witness both Zadie and Emma in vulnerable moments over the course of the book. Did you relate to one character more than the other?

3. Which of the two women would you most want to have as a friend? And which one would you choose as your doctor, Zadie or Emma? Why?

4. Kimmery Martin’s medical background as an ER doctor helped her to bring many of the hospital scenes to life. Was there anything in this behind-the-curtain look at a working doctor’s personal life that surprised you?

5. What personality traits do you typically expect a doctor to embody? Did Zadie or Emma fit the persona of a doctor in your mind?

6. Is it common for friends to share an interest in the same man at a certain stage in their lives? Have you ever experienced any similar kind of female competition in your life?

7. What do you think Graham brought into Emma’s life that she was missing out on before their relationship? Are there any similarities you can point to between Graham and Wyatt?

8. Dr. X has a few moral transgressions during Zadie and Emma’s medical school years. Which one did you find to be most egregious?

9. Did you connect more with Zadie’s style of parenthood or with Emma’s?

10. What meaning does the title The Queen of Hearts have for you?

11. What effect did keeping such a long-buried secret from her closest friendhave on Emma?

12. How did you interpret Emma’s analysis of her actions? Were you sympathetic with her?

13. How would you personally draw the line on forgiveness when addressing betrayal in a friendship? Would you have forgiven your friend in this instance?
(Discussion Questions issued by the publisher.)

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