Discussion Questions for book clubs to consider:
- Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take a while?
- Do you find the characters of Ellen and L’Amie convincing? Are they fully developed as complex human beings—or were they one-dimensional?
- Which characters do you particularly admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?
- How does Ellen change as she becomes a wife and mother? Has she settled for less than she wanted?
- Can you pick out a passage that strikes you as particularly profound or interesting?
- What motivates different character’s actions? Do you think those actions are justified?
- Is the story plot or character driven? Do events unfold quickly or is more time spent developing characters’ inner lives? Does it make a difference to your enjoyment?
- If Ellen’s husband had lived, do you think she would have sued the county to vote?
- Do you think Ellen is a good role model for her daughter? Why or why not?
- Ellen enters a new phase of her life and we meet Emily. What are your initial impressions? Do you admire or disapprove of her?
- How do you think Ellen will influence Emily? Or do you think Emily will influence Ellen?
- Do Ellen or Emily remind you of anyone you know? How?
- Are the point of view shifts confusing or do they add to the story?
- How do Ellen, Emily, and Eva’s early lives compare? Who has more family support?
- Who in the book would you like to meet? What would you ask,or say?
- How do you feel about Emily and Lillian’s relationship? Did it grow naturally or come as a shock?
- What are the dynamics of “power” between Emily and Lillian? How does that play a factor in their interactions?
- Is the plot well developed? Is it believable? Do you feel manipulated along the way, or do plot events unfold naturally, organically?
- Why do you think the author used Eva’s letters to further the plot?
- What is the significance of Emily and Lillian’s trip to Europe? How does it affect their relationship? Their professions?
- Why is Eva drawn so strongly to her Aunt Emily?
- How did you react to Ellen’s first trip to the polls? How do you think her voting influenced the other women in her family?
- Does Lillian’s growing success affect her relationship with Emily? How about when Emily’s career stalls?
- What is the significance of the title?
- What affect does Ellen’s death have on the family?
- Think about Eva’s relationship with her husband. How might Ellen and Emily feel about that?
- As Eva’s children grow, how does she juggle family with profession?
- Is the role of wife and mother more important to Eva than it was to Ellen?
- How does Eva plan to infuse her granddaughter with the legacy of strong women in the family?
Wrapping up the book:
- If you could insert yourself as a character in the book, what role would you play?
- Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? Was it manipulative or forced? Was it neatly wrapped up—maybe too neatly? Or was the story unresolved, ending on an ambiguous note?
- Does the book remind you of your own life? An event? A person—like a friend, family member, boss, co-worker?
- f you were to talk with the author, what would you want to know? I love talking about my book! Email me to have me visit your book club or Skype with you.