Thursday, 25 September 2014

What Alice Forgot - Questions


I hope everyone is enjoying this month's book for book club. Here are some questions for you to think about:

-    How did you feel about the sections written from the perspectives of Elisabeth and Frannie? Did they add to your enjoyment of the book, or would you have preferred to have it written entirely from Alice's point of view?
-    Alice is shocked by many transformations—her gym-toned body, her clothes, her house. Are you more or less polished than you were a decade ago? And do you think there's any deeper significance to such change?
-    Do you think it was unavoidable that Elisabeth and Alice had grown apart, because of the tension caused by Elisabeth's infertility versus Alice's growing family? Or do you think their rift had more to do with the kind of people both of them had become?
-    If you were to write a letter to your future self to be opened in ten years, what would you say?
-    The film rights to the book have been sold to Fox 2000—who do you think would be good in the lead roles?

Don’t forget the meeting in on Thursday 25th September. Please let me know if you’re unable to make it.

Me Before You

Everyone in the book club really enjoyed this book and may even read other books by this author in the future.

We all found it very interesting looking at the topic of euthanasia through the eyes of the various different characters, some of whom felt very stongly opposed or in favour of a person being able to take their own life due to medical circumstances. It was was also very interesting to see whether these characters changed their minds during the book as they came to know the person who was involved rather than just thinking about it in the abstract. We wondered whether for example the reason that Lou's mum was so against euthanasia was nothing to do with the actual process but rather to do with protecting her daughter from the pain she would feel if Will went through with it. On the other hand there were Will's father and Lou's father who both seemed to be supportive of their children's decision with regard this topic whatever they chose.

With regard to the relationship between Lou and Will we felt that although it seemed on the surface that Lou was giving more to the relationship underneath Will was giving a lot too. Lous was giving Will the ability to think through his actions with a little more morality rather than with his previous selfish slant on life. Essentially Lou tries to make Will live more in her emotional world rather than his world of thrills and adventure with little thought to tomorrow. Was this selfish on her part, trying to make Will more like her so that he became someone she wanted to spend time with? Whereas Will was giving Lou the ability to think that maybe she should try to break out of her little world, to become more than the put-upon daughter and girlfriend, to become what Will thinks she could be. Now this might have been selfish from Will's point of view as he seemed to be trying to make Lou live her life more in the way he had lived his life, so maybe he was trying to live vicariously through her?

We also discussed how Will would be living his life now he's in the wheelchair and unable to do even basic things for himself compared to his action loving life previously. It must be incredibly frustrating, painful and also humiliating to a person like him, maybe this was why he considered ending it all. It seems someone like him might find it incredibly hard to convert to being in his new situation given the complete change to his life it made, more so than someone whose life wasn't quite so energetic in the first place? We all agreed that Jojo Moyes did an excellent job of portraying the complexities of life as a paraplegic without reverting to a misery memoir type book, we all learnt a lot about how difficult life must be for some people. This was probably best done through the character of Nathan who cared for Will in a wonderfully pragmatic but caring manner, his explanations as to what happens to paraplegics was very interesting.

A discussion about the general principles of euthanasia also occurred during the meeting.

Overall we gave this book 8.5 out of 10.

Me Before You - Questions

Hello everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend while reading this month's book club choice. Here are some questions to think about before the meeting on Thursday.

-    Before his accident, Will was a philanderer and a corporate raider who would probably never have given Louisa a second look. Why is it that people are so often unable to see what’s truly important until they’ve experienced loss?
-    Were you able to relate to the way Will felt after his accident? What about his outlook on life did you find most difficult to understand or accept?
-    Compare Louisa's relationship with Treena to Will's relationship with Georgina. Do siblings know one another any better simply because they are related?
-    How do you feel about the decision Will makes at the end of the novel?

See you all on Thursday! Let me know if you can’t come.

The Innocents

For no particular reason most of the book club members had not finished the book, although one member had finished it and had also read The Age Of Innocence in their reading past.

We discussed the protagonist Adam and thought that he should just have made up his mind and stopped torturing himself with images of what his life might have been like with Ellie rather than with Rachel. Overall we weren't sure who Adam would have been happier with, he seemed to be unhappy with both of them. Maybe this is some of the message of the book that we all have to settle for someone eventually, we all need to make that choice between what we think we want and what is actually good for us. Adam had to weigh up the losses and the gains from both the women in his life to discover which he should spend his life with. We noticed that Adam really loved Rachel's father and often seemed to do things that made Rachel happy purely to make her father proud of him, maybe this had something to do with his fatherless past. Maybe he wanted Lawrence as his father more than he wanted Rachel as his wife?

We also discussed the character of Ellie and the reasons why she behaved in the way she did towards her family, and her relationships with the men in her life. We found it very interesting that both Adam and Ellie seemed to have issues with the safety and security offered by their Jewish community. Adam seemed to see it as smothering and dull, whereas Ellie desparately wanted the love and stability it offered. We weren't sure whether Ellie was jealous of everything Rachel had and that's why she behaved the way she did because she blamed Rachel for having everything Ellie herself wanted out of life.

It was interesting that the author chose to use a Jewish community to compare to the original book's cast of characters from 1920's society. They at first glance seem very different to each other but when you look a little deeper you can see that they are both pretty insular, keeping themselves to themselves. This then made it interesting to watch as Adam met more and more people from outside his own Jewish community who lived their lives in ways that he didn't see as possible.

Overall we gave this book 5 out of 10.