Sunday, July 06, 2008

Questions for Book Tour Nine: The Jane Austen Book Club


1. Sexual roles, identity and orientation seem to be one of the themes of this book. Grigg is often compared and contrasted with his sisters and Allegra's sexual orientation, while not fully explored, is mentioned. What are other examples of sexual roles/identity presented in the book? Did you find yourself identifying with the role(s) of any of the women/men? BONUS: Were these roles similar or different to roles/identities presented in Jane Austin books—give an example.

2. Did you find the allusions to the various Austin books distracting or helpful in understanding the characters in the book? Were there enough similarities to Austin's characters for you to distinguish who was who (i.e. Jocelyn = Emma)?

3. On page 5 of my edition, at the end of the Prologue, the narrator says: "The six of us -- Jocelyn, Bernadette, Sylvia, Allegra, Prudie, and Grigg -- made up the full roster of the Central Valley/River City all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club." Each of the six is featured in the book, and voices intimate thoughts & memories, yet throughout, the narrator maintains the voice of "we." Which of the characters is the narrator telling the story/writing the book? And if you don't know or have an opinion, which character would be the most likely narrator & why?

4. Happiness seemed to be a reoccurring topic throughout the book. Sylvia and Bernadette seemed to be polar opposites in how they reacted to things in life and how they viewed happiness. Do you identify with one of these ladies over the other? Explain. Did another character speak to you instead? Who and why?

5. Which character in the Jane Austen Book Club did you most relate to? And what is your favorite Jane Austen novel and why?

6. Jocelyn and Sylvia are closer than most sisters. Their relationship has withstood many tests. Do you have a particular friend who has stood by you through thick and thin in ways that stand out from most friendships, and if so what brought you together and what keeps the relationship so special?

7. Sylvia described her MIL as affectless, polite but distant until she lost her son when she watch her "crumple like paper." Are there those in your life who have been affectless or polite but distant and then surprised you with their emotional depth?

8. Allegra is described as "liking being an aunt. That it offered all the kid time she needed. Probably. All she wanted mostly." If you don't have your own children, but are an aunt how important is that role to you and, what special rewards does it offer?

9. The author writes in an off-handed way something I imagine would be highly insulting to gay people ..."there would certainly be something challenging in a genetic code that made you gay but left your reproductive urge fully functional." I know gay people who have a strong urge to parent and have gone on to do so with more care than many self-absorbed heterosexuals.

10. Corinne stole Allegra's stories and passed them off as her own. Yet despite this deep betrayal of trust Allegra went back to her. Why do you think that is? Has anyone ever betrayed your trust and how did you handle it?

11. In one part of the book, Jocelyn and Sylvia were discussing happiness. One of them said that "Happiness in marriage is mostly luck..."

12. What are your thoughts on happiness? Do you think that our happiness in life is mostly luck? Do we have some control over how happy we are?

13. Which character in the book could you most relate to, and why? Which one could you least relate to, and why?

14. Bernadette asks that the club be made up of women only: "The dynamic changes with men. They pontificate rather than communicate. They talk more than their share." What differences did having a man bring to the group? If you have close male friends, how do they differ in relating to your infertility/everyday struggles?

15. When Corinne stole Allegra's stories, she both lied by omission as well as stole pieces of Allegra. Do you believe Allegra was more upset about the lie or the fact that someone stole her stories?

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