Book Club Discussion: Invincible Summer

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Invincible Summer by Alice Adams. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • To what degree do you think the friends’ lives and aspirations are shaped by their social class?
  • We follow Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien across twenty years and through some of the most formative experiences of their lives, including redundancy, divorce, prison and having a disabled child; do you think their characters responded to these challenges in a convincing and interesting way?
  • One of the central themes of the novel is finding the hope and courage to carry on despite life’s disappointments and tragedies. Did you come away feeling that although the characters do not find simple solutions to their problems, the overall message is redemptive?
  • Invincible Summer takes place over twenty years and takes in a number of historical events. How much did you feel the characters were masters of their own fates, and how much were they buffeted by forces of economics and history far greater than themselves?
  • Did you feel comfortable with the book’s not having an unequivocally happy ending?

Questions from publisher.

 

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Book Club Discussion: The Summer Before the War

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The author presents two strong women in the characters of Beatrice Nash and Agatha Kent. How are they similar and different? Why do you think the author chose to present both voices?
  • Who is your favorite character and what draws you to him or her in particular? Whom do you dislike in the book, and does he or she have redeeming features?
  • The author has said she thinks the whole world can be explained in a small town. Did she succeed at that in this book? What do you think can or cannot be described and explained within such a setting?
  • Why are books about war so compelling? Do you agree with Beatrice that no writer can ever write about war in a way that will prevent it? Is it a valuable topic anyway?
  • Did The Summer Before the War change what you knew or how you thought of the First World War? How so?

Questions from publisher

 

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Book Reveal: Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Book Reveal: The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

In love we find out who we want to be.

In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Book Club Discussion: The Woman in Cabin 10

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • What’s the effect of having Lo’s e-mails and various news reports interspersed throughout Lo’s narration? In what ways do they help you better understand what’s happening aboard the Aurora?
  • Describe Carrie’s relationship with Lo. Did you like her? Why or why not? In what ways, if any, are the two women alike? How do Lo’s feelings about Carrie change as Lo gets to know her? Did your opinion of Carrie change as you read?
  • When Nilsson challenges Lo’s claim that she’s seen something happen in the cabin next to hers, she tells him, “Yes, someone broke into my flat. It has nothing to do with what I saw” (p. 141). Did you believe her? Did you think that the break-in made Lo more jumpy and distrustful? Give some examples to support your opinion.
  • In what scenes did you think the deception and violence that occurred were justified? In what scenes did you think it not justified?
  • Lo tells Judah, “You don’t know what goes on in other people’s relationships” (p. 333). Describe the relationships in The Woman in Cabin 10. Did you find any particularly surprising? Which ones, and why?
  • Describe Lo’s relationship with Ben. Did you think that Ben had Lo’s best interests at heart? Why or why not? Were you surprised to learn of their history?

Questions from Simon and Schuster.

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Book Club Discussion: The Nest

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Nest  by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Just how dysfunctional is the Plumb family…and why? Why do the siblings allow Leo to have such power over them? If you could advise any or all four of them, how would you counsel them about living their lives?
  • At the beginning of the book, each of the siblings has a drink at a Manhattan watering hole before meeting the others. What do those moments reveal about them?
  • Melodie, Beatrice, Jack and Leo all have behaved somewhat (or very) irresponsibly. Is there one of them with whom you sympathize more than the others? Or are they all caught up in a sense of their own entitlement?
  • How would you live your life if you knew you were to receive a fair amount of money down the line?
  • Talk, too, about the secondary characters and the roles they play in the story: grandchildren, Jack’s husband, Melody’s husband, Leo’s girlfriend, and Bea’s boss.
  • Ultimately, this book is about defining ourselves as individuals within a family (or even a career). How does each character learn who he or she is and what ultimately makes for a fulfilling life?

Questions from Lit Lovers.

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July Book Reveal: Invincible Summer

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer.

But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.

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July Book Reveal: The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking—and attractive—than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

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Book Discussion: Julie and Julia

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Julie has such a remarkable relationship with Julia Child, despite never having met her. What did you think of the relationship that Julie built in her mind? And why does it not matter, in some sense, when Julie finds out that Julia wasn’t an admirer of hers or the Project?
  • Did you find Julie to be a likeable character? Did you relate to her insecurities, anxieties, and initial discontent? Why do you think it is that she was able to finish the Project despite various setbacks?
  • If someone were to ask you about this book, how would you describe it? Is it a memoir of reinvention? An homage to Julia Child? A rags-to-riches story? A reflection on cooking and the centrality of food in our lives? Or is it all (or none) of these?
  • Did Julie’s exploits in her tiny kitchen make you want to cook? Or did they make you thankful that you don’t have to debone a duck or sauté a liver? Even if your tastes may not coincide with Julia Child’s recipes, did the book give you a greater appreciation of food and cooking?
  • When Julie began the Project, she knew little to nothing about blogging. What do you think blogging about her experiences offered her? Does writing about events in your life help you understand and appreciate them more? Do you think the project would have gone differently if the blog hadn’t gained so much attention? Who was the blog mainly for, Julie or her readers? Questions from litlovers.

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Book Discussion: The Year of Living Danishly

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The author and her family pick up and move to another country. Would you ever be able to make a big transition like this? Have you?
  • What are some reasons you think Danish people are the happiest people on earth? Why do you think these things have such an influence on happiness?
  • Do you think that living Danishly is doable in the United States? Or is the Danish way of life not fully achievable in our country? Why or why not?
  • Do you plan to try to try to live more Danishly? Are there any changes you plan on making in your own life after reading the book? How will you implement these changes?
  • What did you think about the decision the author made at the end of the book?

Questions by Hello Book Lover.

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