ICE Breakers

THE ENGLISH PATIENT  

Why do you think Hana devotes herself to look after the Englishman?

Why is the Englishman drawn to the desert and its landscape?

Hana adores the Englishman.  Do you think the Englishman is a likeable individual and would you trust him?

Do you find Kip’s loyalty to the British cause credible?

Do you think all four characters are misfits or victims/survivors of war?

Katherine’s death is tragic – how do you think her death affects The Englishman?

Do you think the simplicity of their lives in San Girolamo Villa enhances their story?

This book was awarded 2018 Golden Booker – do you agree it is a worthy winner?

STATION ELEVEN BY EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL

If the world as we know ended, what would you try to defend and safeguard and how do you think you would survive?

Mandel’s message seems to be that art will continue, whatever the hardships.  How poignant does this message seem in this current climate?

Does this book make you appreciate the world we live in today, despite suffering our own pandemic?

Kirsten says “The more you remember, the more you’ve lost.” What does this book tell us about memory?

Jeevan is one of the characters who can remember more of the previous world.  Do you think he feels alone and separate because of this?

STRANGE FLOWERS

How would you describe Ryan’s style of writing and what elements did you enjoy?

How successfully do you think Ryan explores the themes of racial and class differences?  Did you find Paddy and Kit’s acceptance of their subservient role realistic?

What message do you think Ryan is trying to give in Joshua’s re-written bible story?

What are the different kinds of love Ryan explore?

Have you read any other books by Donal Ryan and if so how do they compare?

What role does religion play for each character?

SILVER SPARROW

book of the moment

Were you surprised to discover such bigamy existed and can having two families ever work?

What were your feelings towards James as both a husband and a father to his daughters?

Did you favour one sister over the other?

Do you think Dana thought things would change if Chaurisse and her mother knew about his other family?

Why do you think Gwen never looks for someone else to share her life with?

Why do you think Raleigh sticks by James throughout the years, particularly at the end?

Do you think Raleigh’s betrayal has as much to do with Gwen’s final actions as James’s bigamy?

The Thursday Murder Club

THE WILD CARD

How did your book club feel about reading this popular whodunnit and runaway success? 

What observations amused you and why were these characters so loveable? 

Is 80something the new 50something?

Which characters intrigued you the most? And did you solve the murder mystery before the amateur sleuths?

In a year when many of our loved ones have been shielding was this a comforting choice? 

Who do you think will star in the Spielberg’s screen spin off?

A LADDER TO THE SKY

Which, if any of Boyne’s characters, did you empathise with? 

Do you think Erich had been naive and simply an old fool about his relationship with Maurice? Did he deserve Maurice’s rejection and revealing his hidden past? 

To what extent was The Interlude in Amalfi with Gore Vidal an important chapter in Maurice’s own story? 

Did this novel make you think differently about how and why novels and classics stand out? 

Do you think The Tribesman needed Maurice in order for the novel to be a success?

What do you think Boyne is trying to convey about the literary world? And what does it tell us about the author?

How does this compare to his other novels? 

SELECTED STORIES

Which was your personal favourite story and why?

Which story surprised you the most?

Could you invest in these tiny glimpses into other people’s lives?

How do you think Monro packs so much detail into her short stories?

Do you feel you are able to imagine so much more beyond the window Monro gives us into the lives of her characters?

Would this book be a contender for your own choice to take to a desert island?

THE VANISHED HALF

To what extent do you think communities like Mallard exist today? 

The identity of Mallard is defined by colour? Did this make you re-evaluate your own prejudices in your community? 

To what extent did their families help or hinder the twin’s escape from their small town lives? 

Did this make you question your own family prejudices?

How much do you know of your own ancestors and family secrets? What aspects of this novel resonated with you?

Did you have a favourite twin and which characters in your opinion were credible?

Was this a stand out read for you? What makes it so memorable? 

How does it compare to other Women's Prize winners and contenders?

EXTREMLY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Did this novel trigger your memory of 9/11? If so, where were you? Why does the author evade the actual event?

Was Oskar a credible character and did this feel like a possible scenario and narrative? Did the group appreciate his adult voice?

How does the Dresden bombing compare to the attack on New York? What do think the author was trying to achieve? 

This is a story about family secrets and coping with tragedy? How did you group feel about Oskar’s mother and grandparents? 

The photo of ‘the falling man’ is an iconic image. What images do you recall and captures the disaster? 

Have you read any other accounts or novels based on 9/11 and how does this compare to you?