Monday, 25 March 2013

The Other Boleyn Girl - Questions

Hello everyone,

I hope you're all enjoying the book. Here are some questions for you to have a look at before Thursday.

- Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?

- How do you feel about the idea that a woman had to be married before she could bed the king? What do you think about the king changing the laws to suit his needs? When Anne states that "Nothing will ever be the same for any woman in this country again," examine why she could believe she would be exempt from the same treatment. In other words, why didn't she realize that "when she overthrew a queen that thereafter all queens would be unsteady"? Do you think the family realized this but persevered anyway?

- In King Henry's court, homosexuality was a crime. Why do you think George essentially flaunted his preference? What do you make of the intimate kiss between George and Anne that Mary witnessed? What is the impetus behind George and Anne's relationship? Discuss whether or not you believe that George slept with Anne so that she might have a son, and why.

- After Anne is arrested, Mary pleads for her by saying, "We did nothing more than that was ordered. We only ever did as we were commanded. Is she to die for being an obedient daughter?". What is your reaction to these arguments? Did Henry have no choice but to sentence her to death?

Questions from LitLovers

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter

The book group didn't seem to enjoy this book very much, this isn't to say it was a bad book, it just wasn't as enjoyable as we'd anticipated. We felt that some elements of the book were confusing, such as the title. It sounded very cryptic and we were waiting to find out the meaning behind it only to discover that it just related to how kids are taught to spell Mississippi, not that cryptic at all really.

We weren't all that happy with the book being called a thriller as we didn't really feel it fitted into this genre at all, there was nothing thrilling about it. To be honest we weren't even sure if it fitted into a mystery either, it just really told a story about two men who had fallen out for whatever reason. We felt that the author was trying to write a very literary thriller but somehow managed to fail on both counts.

Most of the book club felt that this book was very hard to get through with only a minority saying that they felt it was beautifully written and enjoyable. Most of the book group felt that it was difficult to keep a handle on who was who within the book as none of them seemed to really stand out as distinct personalities. It was felt that a lot of the things that happened in the book were rather random with little or no explanation as to why people reacted or acted in certain ways.Having read about some of the characters through the book we felt that the way that Silas acted was not within his character, it seemed very odd when everything was revealed at the end.

Overall we gave this book 4 out of 10.

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter - Questions

Hello everyone!

Here are some questions for you to think about for Thursday 28th February:

- Describe the boys Larry and Silas were, and the men they became. What drew Larry and Silas together as children? What separated them? How did you feel about both characters?

- After Silas, Larry considered Wallace Stringfellow to be his friend. What was the bond between Larry and Wallace? What attracted one to the other? Were they really friends? What is a friend?

- Larry felt he was to blame for Wallace's tragic choices. Do you think he was responsible at all? What about Silas? How much responsibility do we carry for others? For family? Friends? Strangers? How much responsibility does the community bear for Wallace's actions?

- How does Larry react when Silas tells him the truth about their childhood? Can true friends overcome betrayal? How? Do you think they will be part of each other's lives going forward?

I hope you're all enjoying the book, and looking forward to the meeting next week.

Questions from GoodReads

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

On the whole most of the book group really enjoyed this book, we wouldn't say that it was high literary fiction but it was very enjoyable and gave you something to think about. Interestingly this was the second read for one person who very much enjoyed it the first time but found it a little boring on the second read.

We were all amazed there wasn't much more in the book about the War, it all seemed to be very glossed over, but maybe this was because we were meant to be focusing on the characters involved rather than the historical background. It may also have been because of the age of the protaganists, they were both quite young and they were both focused on experiencing their first taste of love.

Thr group felt that this book was very interesting as many didn't realise how the Japanese population in America were treated during the Second World War. It's not something that is often discussed either in books or during our education about this time period. We compared their treatment to the treatment of Jews, and other nationalities in the European countries during this time. We then went on to discuss how we felt about our own nationalities as we all live in Wales but not all of us are Welsh either by birth or stepping back further into our pasts. We also spoke about how this is becoming more confusing for people as they are now second or even third generation living within the UK or even other countries, who do they feel their loyalties lie with?

 Some of the group found that the story took a while to get going which didn't help their experience. But we all felt that the jumps between the past and the present day (for the novel) were done well without too much confusion. Some of thr group didn't enjoy the short chapters especially as some of them were within the same time with little difference in what was happening, we felt that this would have felt better with just a break within the chapter rather than a completely new chapter.

We discussed why we felt that the two yound people were so deeply in love despite being so young. We wondered whether it was the War going on around them that heightened their feelings, or maybe it was the fact that it was slightly forbidden on the part of the Chinese family. We also wondered whether that was why Henry still held such a strong torch for Keiko even during the present day. It did at times feel as though Henry was a bit obssessed with Keiko to the point of the reader becoming slightly uncomfortable.

The one thing that confused us all was that we felt that the people within the story always acted much older than they really are. It felt as though Henry was an old gentleman in the more recent sections of the book when he really wasn't that old at all.

Overall we gave this book 7 out of 10.