Book Club Discussion: Lilac Girls

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. 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!

  • In what ways do you think the alternating points of view helped to enrich the narrative? Was there ever a time you when you wished there was only one narrator? Why or why not?
  • The primary settings of this novel are starkly different – Caroline’s glamorous New York world of benefits and cultural events, and the bleak reality of life in a concentration camp. In what ways did the contrast between these two settings affect your reading experience?
  • Caroline’s relationship with Paul is complicated, taboo even, was there ever a time when you didn’t agree with a choice Caroline made with regards to Paul? When and why?
  • Many of the themes explored in Lilac Girls – human rights, political resistance, survival – are a direct result of the historical WWII setting. How are those themes relevant to current events today?

Questions from author’s website.

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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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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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Book Discussion: Where’d You Go Bernadette

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. 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!

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective?
  • What are your thoughts on Bernadette’s character? Has she become unhinged or has she always been a little crazy? What, if anything, do you think sent her over the edge? Have you ever had a moment in your own life that utterly changed you, or made you call into question your own sanity?
  • The book has a very playful structure. Do you think it works? Why do you think the author chose it rather than a more straightforward, traditional structure?
  • What do you think of Bernadette and Elgie’s marriage? Is it dysfunctional?  Is there real love there?
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to the book? How and why? Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?

Questions from litlovers.

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Book Club Discussion: Eight Hundred Grapes

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. The one common denominator for the Ford siblings is love of their mother’s lasagna. Do you have a similar tradition in your family? What brings you together, no matter what?

Similar to the book, my family has always bonded over family dinners. Every night growing up everyone sat down to a home cooked meal free of distractions and talked to each other. Now that we’re older we have the same family dinners when everyone is in town!

2. How does forgiveness play into this story? Could you forgive Ben for hiding Maddie? Could you forgive Finn for kissing Margaret?

I don’t think I could forgive Ben for hiding Maddie. Asking Georgia to marry him should mean he’s asking her to be his partner in life. This means they should deal with conflicts together. A big secret like that would not be a good start to a marriage. When it comes to Finn, he is family so even though it may take some time, he should be forgiven. Forgiveness is part of being a family. With Ben, Georgia still has a choice.

3. Why is Jacob unexpectedly appealing to Georgia? Discuss their similarities, both in personality and life paths.

They are both following the path of their families. They have both tried to stray from the family legacy but ultimately end up right back where they never thought they wanted to be and realize it’s where they belong.

4. Ben takes full responsibility for lying, but Finn points out that Georgia wasn’t necessarily tuned in to her fiancé. Discuss whether there are two sides to every conflict, even when something seems black and white.

There are definitely two sides to every conflict but that doesn’t mean one can’t be more wrong or right than the other.

5. Do you think that Georgia will be happy running the vineyard and being with Jacob? Why or why not? What’s the biggest lesson she has learned?

Yes. When she moved away from the vineyard, she tried to create a life for herself that was the opposite of her life growing up. In the end, she realizes she’s not being true to herself and belongs back at the vineyard where she really wanted to be all along.

Share your comments below!

Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Simon and Schuster

Book Club Discussion: The Signature of All Things

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. The Signature of All Things takes as its first focus not the book’s heroine, Alma Whittaker, but her rough-and-tumble father, Henry. Why do you think Elizabeth Gilbert made this choice in her narration, and why are the first fifty pages essential to the rest of the novel?

I flew through the first half of this book and the first 50 pages chronicling the adventures of Alma’s father were a big part of this. I absolutely loved this part of the book. Gilbert seemed to intend that these first 50 pages featuring the adventures and travels of Alma’s father function in stark contrast to the cloistered life of Alma, who rarely strayed a few miles from the Philadelphia estate for most of her life. It further emphasized the fact that, despite being curious and clever like her father, she was only able to explore the world in microcosm on the grounds of the estate.

2. Alma Whittaker grows up in the richest family in Philadelphia. In what ways does her father’s fortune set her free? In what ways is it a prison?

Her father’s fortune allows Alma the freedom to learn and explore. Since she does not have to work like many young people did during this time, her main focus is expanding her brain and satiating her endless curiosity. Despite the wealth, Alma never strays far from home. I felt that it was a bit unclear why the family never traveled. It seems as though they could have easily done so. Her father’s decision to remain sequestered on the estate forces Alma to live in a very small world, with only her books as a means to explore the world beyond the walls.

3. Alma’s husband, Ambrose Pike, offers her a marriage filled with deep respect, spiritual love, intellectual adventure-and positively no sex. Should she have been contented with this arrangement?

I don’t think she should have settled for the arrangement, particularly because there was a clear miscommunication going into the marriage. It doesn’t seem fair to ask that Alma be contented with the situation just because everything else was so great. Alma’s sexuality is clearly a large part of who she is and was one of the main things she was looking forward to if a romance ever did come her way. I was actually quite surprised when she back out after finding out Ambrose did not want to be intimate. I thought for sure she would settle for the situation minus the sex.

4. What did you think of Alma’s decision to go to Tahiti?

As far as the storyline goes, I understand why the author had her go there but I did not agree with Alma’s choice to do so. It seemed like weird way to gain closure on the situation. I would even argue that she did not get full closure, though the book made it seem that way. Her time in Tahiti was my least favorite part of the novel and was difficult for me to get through.

5. Alma loved mosses and Ambrose loved orchids, how did their botanical favorites relate to their characters?

I really loved this dichotomy. Alma has a revelatory moment and mosses become her passion. Much like Alma, mosses are slow and steady, not shifting much over the course of many years. I felt that this mirrored Alma’s stasis as she stayed inside the walls of her childhood home. In order to see and understand the complexity of mosses you had too look closely. Similarly, Alma is quite private and keeps much of her complex thinking to herself, unsure of how to tell others how she feels. Ambrose is quite the opposite. Like an orchid, he is beautiful, bright and lively. He seems to wear his heart on his sleeve and offer his complex thoughts and opinions to anyone who asks. His one secret, his homosexuality could perhaps be compared to the manner in which orchids rarely bloom, something he was never able to fully unveil until he traveled to Tahiti.

Share your comments below!

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Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Penguin Random House