Thursday, July 4, 2019

June-ish 2019: Corvus by Harold Johnson

Corvus, by Harold Johnson

Meeting Details: 
Date: July 4, 7:30pm. Discussion to start 8pm
Place: Emily's

Discussion Questions:

1. Did you like the book? Why/why not?

2. How do you feel about the author's use of the Raven and did it add to or detract from the book for you? How did the Raven come into play for George? for Katherine? for Lenore? for Richard?
3. Did the relationship between Richard and Lenore have any meaningful effect? Was there a reason for the author to have included it?

4. Think about the four different communities- the Ashram, Regis, the First Nations, La Ronge. What type of people live in each one? Do you think that people can be divided into those four categories? Which one would you live in, which would you like to live in?

5. What are some of the themes and issues in the book? Was the author convincing of his opinions?

6. Reviewers were divided on Johnson's view of women. Did you feel he tried to empower women in this novel, or was he only paying lip service and actually show a disregard?

7. Did Lenore's experience in the war shock or suprise you when it was finally described? How did it affect her?

8. What did you think of George's concerns about prosecuting, especially regarding incarceration time? Do you agree with him?

9. Do you think this book deserved to be on the Canada Reads list? Why or why not?

10. Would you recommend this book?

Menu: Sustainable eating
Items that might have been eaten by the First Nations community or on the Ashram. Bonus points for using produce you have grown yourself!

Soup (Karen)

3 sisters stew
Deer or bison (Marion)
Vegetables- roasted?

Berry dish (Tessa)

I will supply drinks, including tea in honour of Katherine, and Rose wine for Lenore

Friday, April 26, 2019

May 2019: The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Image result for princess and the goblin

Meeting Details: meeting at Danielle's house on Thursday, May 2nd at 7:30pm. Discussion to begin at 8 pm.

Discussion Questions:

1. Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not?

2. Who is your favourite character in the story and why?

3. Lootie, the nurse, is responsible for taking care of Irene. Describe their relationship and explain why MacDonald included Lootie's character in the story.

4. In the big battle scene, the goblins almost capture Lootie rather than Irene, their intended victim. What is the significance of this?
5. Besides Lootie, the other adult female in the story is Curdie's mother. Compare the function of Curdie's mother in the story to that of Lootie and Grandmother.
6. Explain what the goblins are (how they turned into goblins). Why are they so angry? What do they hate? What is their plan for revenge?
7. Though the goblins are ruthless, they are also clever and even witty. Why does MacDonald give them this combination of characteristics? Does their wittiness make them less forceful as villains?
8. Besides the goblins' wit, what other examples of humor are there in the story? Is such humor appropriate in a story that has a serious theme?
9. There are several themes running through The Princess and the Goblin, such as the importance of courage and belief. What do you think Curdie learns by the end of the story?

10. What do you imagine would have happened to Princess Irene if she hadn't been saved from the goblins?

11. Are there any other books that you can think of which have been influenced by this fairy tale?

12. Does any part of the story (or any of its characters) remind you of another book? Explain your comparison.

13. Would you recommend this book? Why or why not?

Menu Ideas: Famous Welsh Foods

In Wales, they have a strong tradition of living off the land, stretching back as far as the ancient Celts. Food has historically been simple wholesome fare – thrifty dishes made with just a few simple, quality ingredients. This was fuel designed to satisfy the hearty appetites of those working the land: farmers, quarry workers, coal miners and fishermen.

Although the book does not specify a geographical location, but some can tell from the landscape descriptions that it is set in Wales (ahem, Em). So we will travel to that part of the world and create dishes that will satisfy our potential mining urges. 

Here are a few suggestions:

Drinks will be provided by Danielle

Friday, April 5, 2019

Book Choices - May 2019-Feb 2020

May - The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
hostess: Danielle

June - Corvus by Harold Johnson
hostess: Emily

July/August - summer vacation 

September - Obasan by Joy Kogawa
hostess: Karen

October - Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
hostess: Marion

November - Library Kit (tbd by Karen and Shelagh)
hostess: Shelagh

December - cookbook tbd by Sherrie 
(we'll order something from the Book Outlet for less than $15)
hostess: Sherrie

January - Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
hostess: Tamara

February - In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
hostess: Tessa

Friday, March 22, 2019

April 2018: Educated by Tara Westover

 Meeting Details: 
meeting at Tessa's house on either Thursday, April 4th at 7:30.  Discussion to begin at 8 pm.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?  How does it compare to other memoirs you've read?
  2. Tara Westover’s memoir recounts her life as the daughter of Mormon survivalist parents who leaves rural Idaho to pursue an education. What do you think she’s referring to with the title Educated? And what statement do you think the book makes on education at large?
  3. Westover’s quest for an education is a dramatic rebellion by her father’s standards. How does her rebellion differ from that of her older brother Tyler, if at all?
  4. Do you think being the youngest child in the family impacted Westover ultimately leaving her family? Would it have made a difference if she’d been the oldest child?
  5. Why is it significant that Westover didn’t know the word “holocaust” and had no knowledge of race issues in the United States?
  6. Which family member had the biggest influence on Westover’s quest for a different life? Which non-family members were influential on her life?
  7. Westover’s life changes dramatically thanks to an encouraging professor at Brigham Young University. How might her life be different if she hadn’t applied for the study abroad program at Cambridge University?
  8. Westover eventually finds her voice and realizes it’s just as powerful as the people who have influenced her life. What is voice, and how important is it that every child be encouraged to find their own?
  9. What impact does Westover’s pursuit of formal education have on her parents and family?
  10. How does education change Westover’s view of her childhood? How does she come to terms with how she was raised once she knows the value of education?
  11. Westover makes great efforts to ensure the story is as objective as possible, including footnotes where accounts of an event differ, or comparing her diary entries to her memory. As a reader, how important is objectivity in this story, and more largely, in memoirs in general?
  12. At 30, Westover is still relatively close in age to the events that occur in this book. How do you think the memoir would be different were it written when Tara was significantly older and more distanced from this time in her life? In what ways would it alter your interpretation of these experiences?
  13. Would you recommend this book?  To whom?  Why or why not?
(most questions from

Menu Ideas: Breakfast at the Westovers

One of Tara's opening images is the debate over family breakfast (pg 3-5) in which "breakfast became a test of loyalty," a theme that dominates the book.  Let's cook up a little breakfast goodness focusing on some of those hotly contested foods: butter, honey, dairy, corn flakes, cream of wheat (or even slippery canned peaches -an important survivalist food!)

Reminder: please weigh in on book choices for the upcoming months so that we can finalize that list!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Looking Ahead - April 2019 to Feb 2020

Educated by Tara WestoverApril - The Latest Buzz

Educated by Tara Westover
 (available at HPL; available for less than $14 at Chapters)

hostess: Tessa

As we discussed last night, here are some suggestions for books for the next stretch:


Mary Poppins by P. L. TraversMay - Forgotten Favorites

book suggestions:

  1.  Mary Poppins by PL Travers
  2. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

hostess: Danielle


That Time I Loved You: A Novel by Carrianne LeungJune - Canadian Author

book suggestions:

  1. Corvus by Harold Johnson
  2. Brother by David Chariandy
  3. That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung

hostess: Emily


Obasan: Penguin Modern Classics Edition by Joy KogawaSeptember - Reading (Modern Canadian) Classics

book suggestions:

  1. The Wars by Timothy Findley
  2. Obasan by Joy Kogawa
  3. The Diviners by Margaret Lawrence

hostess: Karen


Library Of Souls: The Third Novel Of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsOctober - Mystery

book suggestion: Library of Souls 
(Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3) by Ransom Riggs

hostess: Marion


Image result for library book club kitNovember - Library Kit

book: to be determined; chosen by hostess
hostess: Shelagh


Image result for bookoutletDecember - Cookbook

book suggestion: I would suggest that we have the hostess choose a "bargain" cookbook from the Bookoutlet and order copies for as many people as are interested.  If we aim for a cookbook for under $10, then we should have lot of choices without having to spend much on another cookbook.  

Suggestions from Book Outlet:
Food for Life by Laila Ali $15.09 (more recipe/less story?)
The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook: by Mary Younkin  $8-11 (more recipe/less story?)
Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book by Jenna Hunterson $12.29 (more recipe/less story?)
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist $10.89 (maybe more story than cooking?)

hostess: Sherrie


Inheritance: A Memoir Of Genealogy, Paternity, And Love by Dani ShapiroJanuary - Biography

book suggestions:

  1. Suzanne by Anais  Barbeau-Lavalette
  2. The Forgotten Child by Richard Gallear
  3. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
hostess: Tamara


Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor NoahFebruary - Couples Meeting

book suggestions:

  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  (Costco has this one for about $12 right now)
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  3.  In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

hostess: Tessa


If you have additional suggestions, please add them directly to the post with the book suggestions for the month.  Then, to save time deliberating all these options at the next meeting, please add your thoughts to the comments below!

Another suggestion to hold onto for later: The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

Thursday, February 28, 2019

March 2019: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Image result for breath eyes memory
March Book Club - Library book kit: Breath, Eyes, Memory
Host: Sherrie
Date: Thursday March 7th, 7:30 pm

Discussion Questions:
1.      Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?

2.  Edwidge Danticat has said that in Haiti, "Everything is a story. Everything is a metaphor or a proverb." How does the character of grandmother personify this tendency? How do some of the proverbs and tales she tells Sophie relate to the events and themes of the novel?

3. As a young girl, Martine's favorite color was daffodil yellow; in middle age she is obsessed with the color red. What significance and associations do these colors have for her? In what way does the change from yellow to red symbolize the change in Martine's own character? Does Danticat use color symbolically elsewhere in the story?

4. Martine once hoped to be a doctor; later, she transfers her ambitions to Sophie. "If you make something of yourself in life, " she says to her daughter, "we will all succeed. You can raise our heads" (p. 44). Why does Sophie consciously reject her mother's ideal of high achievement? Why does she choose to become a secretary rather than, for instance, a doctor?

5. The character of Atie is perhaps the most complex and mysterious in the novel. Why is Atie so changed when Sophie returns to Haiti? Why does she so resolutely stick to her idea of staying with her mother and doing her "duty, " even though Ifé; says, "Atie, she should go. She cannot stay out of duty. The things one does, one should do out of love" (p. 119)?

6. Atie says to Sophie, "Your mother and I, when we were children we had no control over anything. Not even this body" (p. 20). How does this knowledge help Sophie shape her life? In what ways does Sophie take control of her own life as her mother and aunt never were able to?

7. In the graveyard, Atie reminds Sophie to walk straight, since she is in the presence of family. Grandmother Ifé plans carefully for her death, which she thinks of as a "journey" (p. 195). How does Sophie's grandmother's attitude toward death and the dead, as illustrated in this novel, compare with American ones? How does each culture attempt to foster a sense of wholeness, of continuity, between the generations?

8. Sophie feels that Haitians in America have a bad image as "boat people." Are her efforts to assimilate, to become "American, " in any way related to her physical self-loathing ("I hate my body. I am ashamed to show it to anybody, including my husband" [p. 123])? How does her bulimia express such self-loathing?

9. Breath, Eyes, Memory is primarily a story of the relationships between women: mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters. But there are two significant male characters in the novel, Joseph and Marc. Does Danticat depict Joseph and Marc as full, rounded-out characters, or do we see them only through Sophie's slanted point of view? How does Sophie express her ambivalent feelings about both of them? Why is she so angry with Marc after her mother's death? Do you feel that her anger is justified? Is it possible that Sophie's aloofness from both these men stems from her upbringing in an almost exclusively female world, where "men were as mysterious to me as white people" (p. 67)?

10. Martine's rape by an unknown man, possibly a Macoute, is the defining event in her life, bringing with it overpowering feelings of fear and self-loathing which she passes on to her daughter. Sophie's therapist even suggests that Martine undergo an exorcism. How does Sophie in her own way succeed in "exorcising" the evil events of the past? "It was up to me to avoid my turn in the fire" (p. 203), she says; how does she achieve this?

12. When Sophie breaks her maidenhead with the pestle, she likens it to "breaking manacles, an act of freedom" (p. 130). What exactly does "freedom" mean to Sophie? Which of her other actions represent bids for freedom and autonomy? What does she accomplish when, at the end of the novel, she beats the stalks of sugar cane? Do you feel that Martine in some manner "liberated" herself by committing suicide? Or was her act one of submission?

13. Would you recommend this book?  Why or why not?
Starter: Haitian patties
Main: Haitian chicken in sauce
Side: Baked plantains
Yellow rice
Dessert: Rice pudding

Saturday, February 2, 2019

February 2019: Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist by Martina Scholtens

Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist: A Doctor Reflects on Ten Years at a Refugee Clinic

Your Heart is the Size as Your Fist
Feby Martina Scholtens

The annual Couple's Book Club!!
Saturday, Feb 9. 20197:30pmAt Karen's house

1. Did you enjoy this book? Why or why not? 2. The opening chapters describe Scholtens’ “drift” into refugee medicine. She describes growing up in a community where she was “expected” to be a teacher or a homemaker. Do you think this a fair assessment, or more her interpretation?
3.She describes her first clinic as where the “worried well” came, the “anxious professionals” and it didn’t sit well with her. Who do you imagine this to be? Is it us? Do you think this a fair statement of people visiting a doctor clinic, or is it more a reflection after 10 years of working with the poorest, lowest element of society? 4. Scholtens advocates not cultural knowledge, but cultural humility - recognizing that we cannot fully understand another culture without having lived it, but that people are willing to forgive ignorance if there is humble curiosity. She also advocates not focusing on differences, but what makes us common, human and alive.Do you agree? Does this work also with popular culture rather than racial culture?
5. In the chapter dealing with the struggle/conflict of reconciling a career with motherhood, were you able to identify with this if you are a working Mom. If you are a stay-at-home Mom, were you able to identify? She lists several things as key in making the dual life work...are they specific to working moms or more universal in nature? (pg 43ff) 6. In chapter 8, we hear how Scholten hears Yusef’s horrific story, and how she deals with stories of suffering from her patients. She describes various stages of dealing with this part of her job...voyeuristic fascination; avoidance; shame; detachment and ending with bearing witness - just listening. When we hear of others struggles, do we show some/any of these responses? 7. Scholtens attributes people asking about stories she's heard to a desire for titillation and is enraged. (pg 58) Do you think this is accurate/fair (especially considering her admittance of having been voyeuristically fascinated herself) or is this a result of sensitivity to the years of horrors she's heard? 8. In chapter 14, she describes her gardening habits, and those of her patients. She describes feeling somewhat guilty at first, as if these are not really worthy of her time, but comes to see them as mental health medicine. Similarly, she later reduces her patient load to preserve her mental health. Do you consider this in your own life? Do you have something that provides you with mental break/mental health? 9. Why do you think Scholtens chose to tell her story parallel to the story of the Hadad’s? Do you think this is the story of one family, or are they an amalgamation - a family created in her mind to highlight the refugee story? 10. She is very reflective in her career and life, so much that she almost pursued a career in liberal arts. Do you think she’s right when she says on page 14/15 that “the truest answers lie in the arts”? Do you think this reflective nature hindered or helped her in her medical career? When dealing with refugees in particular? In her life as a wife and mother? 11. Reading about things that refugees are moved by, or that they struggle with, highlighted many things that we take for granted growing up in Canada. (Healthcare, education, freedom to disagree with authority, the ability to “blend in”, peace...etc.) Was there something in this book that moved you to realize how blessed we are here? 12. In the last chapter, Scholtens reflects that “the magic always seemed to be where two things brushed against each other...beach, conversation, and dusk. In the exam room, too, the patient and I were two eternal spheres that rubbed up against each other, making a little spark to see by. Most was left unknown. It was that thin line where we met that was beautiful.” What does this mean to you? 13. The bio at the back of the book recognizes an award that Scholtens received for “History and Narrative in Family Medicine” and also cites her ongoing interest in narrative medicine. A google search will give you a form of definition like: “The care of the sick unfolds in stories. The effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence is a model for humane and effective medical practice.” (attributed to Rita Charon and Columbia University) How does this differ from “regular” medicine, and how do you see it reflected in this book? 14. Often, this book seems to show two contrasts in its’ chapters. Poverty and wealth, peace and war, inhumanity and decency, joy at birth and missing an old life etc…at the end of the book, were you left feeling unsettled or hopeful, or something else? 15. Did this book change the way you felt our thought about refugees or the refugee situation in Canada? 16. To whom would you recommend this book?
Menu: the Multicultural Plate We are introduced to so many people and cultures in the book! In honour of the refugee clinic and the multicultural country that we are, it would be fun to sample from several places. So, rather than a specific menu, let’s everyone pick a different country and bring a dish from there! Here is a list of countries represented by refugees that Scholtens encounters... Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Myanmar, Kenya, Afghanistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Vietnamese, Nepal, Burundi, Bhutan, Colombian, China, Eritrea There are tons of websites online that you can search for recipes, but if you are stuck, here is a website from a lady who is cooking entire meals from as many countries as she can. (And she includes background for each country…) Pick a country and a dish, and sign up below. If you know the dish you are bringing, add the name or description so that we don’t all bring chicken stew (or something!) Appetizers: 1 or 2 people
Nepal - red lentil soup (Karen)
Afghanistan - meatball appetizer (Tessa) Entrees: 2 or 3 people
Pakistan - chicken curry with rice (Karen) Dessert: 1 or 2 people Colombia (Tamara)
Vietnam - fruit and rice pudding (Tessa) Drinks: Tamara

Thursday, December 6, 2018

97 Orchard: by Jane Ziegelman


1) How did you find the style of Ziegelman’s writing? What is the most memorable thing that you learned from this book? What is the main point that you learned from reading the book?

2) Each of 97 Orchard’s five chapters contains in-depth descriptions of food typical to a particular immigrant group. Did you have a favorite section? If so, why?

3) Zielgelman ends her introduction by reminding us that modern food trends are also the result of immigration, saying “the culinary revolution that began in the nineteenth century continues today among immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, who have brought their food traditions to this country and continue to transform the way America eats” (xv). Do you know of examples of such new immigrant food? What about “old” immigrant food (German, Irish, Jewish, Eastern European, Italian)? Do they seem to follow the same timeline here in our city as in this book?

4) In chapter 2, a week’s grocery list for a typical Irish immigrant family contains more sugar than anything else besides potatoes (p. 62). In her discussion of the list, Ziegelman notes that sugar was used as a cheap source of calories,with sweetened tea staving off between-meal hunger. What does this practical practice in times of food scarcity have to do with today’s overabundance of sweetened drinks?

5) In chapter 3, Ziegelman discusses nineteenth century urban animal husbandry at length (p. 112-115). How does this compare to today’s trend of raising chickens and other small livestock in San Francisco and Oakland? What has enabled us, as a society, to come full circle and again embrace this practice?

6) In chapter 4, the East Side pushcart markets are described as both “garbage strewn streets aswirl with... mayhem” and “the most picturesque spots in New York,” embraced by Bohemian uptown visitors (p. 143). How do such markets, where tenement homemakers could find good quality food at the cheapest price, compare with today’s urban farmers’ markets? Where do today’s immigrants find affordable, culturally acceptable food?

7) The pushcart markets allowed early twentieth century New Yorkers who lacked access to in-home refrigeration a way to purchase fresh food (p.143). How has modern refrigeration changed urban access to food? Is today’s food fresher or less so? How has access to fresh food changed the lifestyles and health of urbanites?

8) Ziegelman writes of charity within the tenements, and how immigrants were both generous and accepting of it, while charity from without was a humiliating experience for them. Are there examples of this still happening today? (p. 157).

9) The Ellis Island Dining Room sounds like a place that welcomed detained immigrants and gave them a good meal before starting their new life in America or returning back to their former country (p. 126). In what ways do you think that experience affected their relocation, either way?

10) Before the turn of the century, a program teaching immigrant and native born American girls “domestic science” was started in the New York City public schools (p. 163). How did that and similar home economics programs in other American schools fare over the years? What, if any, similarities do today’s school gardens share these old programs?


I find the recipes in this book quite vague in regards to measuements and helpful things like that for acctually building a recipe.

I would like to have a theme of German food.

I will bring drinks!

Hope to see you all there!

Friday, October 26, 2018

November 2018: The Secret of the Blue Trunk

November 2018: The Secret of the Blue Trunk by Lise Dion

Meeting on Thursday, November 1st, at Danielle’s house ( **last time at Fife Street, Ladies! Let’s give this house a final book club hurrah ;) )
Come anytime after 7:30, with discussion starting at 8 pm.

Discussion Questions to come..

I thought of doing food mentioned in the book, but so far it doesn’t sound very appetizing. Then I thought ‘Québécois Cuisine’ but that’s maybe a lot of poutine and maple syrup.
A line from the book stood out at me:

Whenever I visited her and she was in the kitchen preparing a meal, I felt as though I was coming home from school and was a child again who no longer had to face her adult responsibilities.’

So. Although it’s been done before, it’s one of my favourites. Let’s share those childhood comfort foods, or adult comfort foods, and go through the secrets hidden in the blue trunk together. (Extra points if your comfort food includes poutine or maple syrup somehow ;)

Drinks provided by Danielle

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sept 2018: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow CityBook: Hollow City (#2 Miss Peregrines)
Place: Emily's house
Date: Oct 4
Time: 7:30pm, discussion starts @8

Meat pies (Olive' favorite)
A favorite dish with honey, inspired by Hugh
Gypsy stew
Gypsy bread
Jacket potatoes (ch 8)
Stewed apples (from the Menagerie)
Nuts (from the carnival)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did you like the book? Why/why not?
  2. Enoch tends to be the antagonist within the group. Do you think Enoch is pessimistic or realistic?Enoch repeatedly voices the worst-case scenario. Does doing so harm or hurt the group’s progress? Is it better to keep spirits high by sugarcoating the truth or to be completely honest about the situation and prepare to face it?
  3. Why do you think the hollows and wights chose to pose as Nazi soldiers? How does this element add to their malicious presence in the book?
  4. The children spend the entire book running away from hollows while trying to make their way to London. Did you think running was the best plan, or should they have tried to stand and fight, or simply hide?
  5. When the children had to leave the loop, Enoch packed reptile hearts, Hugh took the front doorknob, Horace took his “lucky pillow,” Fiona a jar of wormy garden dirt, and Millard had “striped his face with bomb-pulverized brick dust.” Jacob observed that “if what they kept and clung to seemed was all they had left of their home.” How did each of these items fit the character of each child? What would the others have taken? What would you have liked to keep from the house, or from your own home, if it were damaged? 
  6. The Gypsies live separately from the rest of society, much like the peculiar children. What other similarities do you notice between the Gypsies and the peculiars?
  7. The children’s stories of their past are mostly sad, especially Emma’s. How would you react if your friend or family member suddenly developed peculiar powers?
  8. What did you think about Jacob’s eventual decision to leave the peculiar children? What decision would you have made in his place?
  9. Hollow City ends with a spectacular cliffhanger. What do you think will happen in the next book? How will Jacob’s newly discovered powers affect the story? 
  10. Mr. White was appalled that the children called them monsters, and considered him and his kind more evolved than any other creatures on the planet. Why do evil creatures lie justify their actions to make themselves look better than they really are, especially to those who actually pursue good, like the children? How is he actually like many evil men throughout our world history, and what makes him blind to it? 
  11. Why was it so important for Emma “to prove to a stranger that we were good-hearted, when we knew ourselves to be”? Why did “the suggestion that...our natures were more complexly shaded, seemed to bother her”? Was it that way for all of the peculiars, or only some? And do normal people struggle with that as well? Why? 
  12. Would you recommend this book to others? If so, who?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

June 2018: EMMA by Jane Austen

Image result for emma jane austenDiscussion Questions:

Did you enjoy this book?  Why or why not?
1. “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” It has been said that great novelists introduce the main themes of a book in the first sentence. What themes are suggested in the first sentence of Emma? What does it tell us about Emma Woodhouse? Discuss the use of the word “seemed,” which implies that all is not as it appears. Are the rich without cares? Is Emma as happy and clever as the first sentence states? Examine Austen’s choice of other words and phrases in this sentence.
2. Mr. Woodhouse says, “Emma never thinks of herself if she can do good to others.” Is this a positive or negative attribute? What is significant in Austen’s word choice here?
3. Describe Mr. Woodhouse. What are the reasons for his fears? Is he a hypochondriac or is he in ill health? What kind of a daughter is Emma?
4. “Altogether, she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith’s being exactly the young friend she wanted--exactly the something which her home required.” Discuss Emma’s choice of friends. Why does she befriend Harriet? Does Harriet benefit from Emma’s friendship? Why isn’t Harriet a good companion for Emma? Why doesn’t Emma befriend Jane Fairfax?
5. Emma discourages Harriet from accepting Mr. Martin’s proposal on the basis of his not being a “real gentleman.” Is this true? Who measures up to being a real gentleman?
6. What is the importance of Mr. Knightley asking Harriet Smith to dance? How does this dance change the relationship between Mr. Knightley and Emma?
7. Why does it take Frank Churchill so long to pay his respects to Mrs. Weston? How and why does Emma’s initial opinion of him change? What are the sources of Mr. Knightley’s dislike of Frank Churchill?.
8. What revelations or lessons does Emma experience that contribute to her growing selfawareness? To “thoroughly understand, her own heart” becomes Emma’s “first endeavor.” How has she changed since the beginning of the novel? Compare and contrast her views on marriage at various points in the novel with attitudes of the time.
9. Do Mr. Knightley’s feelings for Emma change over the course of the story, and, if so, how do they change?
10. Marriage is a central device in Emma, but not all of the marriages are necessarily good. Discuss the matches between Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor, Mr. Elton and Mrs. Elton, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Harriet and Mr. Martin, and Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. What traits do the characters in each couple possess that make them suited or unsuited for each other? about the options of women of?
 11. According to her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen said when she started to write Emma, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” Do you like Emma? Is it necessary to like the heroine to appreciate the character or the novel?
12. It is often said that great literature bears rereading. How is that particularly true with Emma?
13.  Would you recommend this book to others?  Why or why not?

Menu- British Tea

Finger sandwiches  (cucumber, egg, smoked salmon)
Strawberries & cream
Toast with orange marmalade
Shortbread cookies