A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA
BOOK OF THE MOMENT
‘Where ever I lay my hat that‘s my home!’ - Displacement is a strong theme in the novel. How do you feel about your own roots and how do you define your home?
Was this an enriching experience for your book club?
What did you learn about this period in history and in particular the stigma of being a refugee? Do you think it highlights the stories we hear today and do you think it will ever change?
To what extent were the love affairs important strands to the narrative? Could you feel any empathy with the female characters, Ofelia and Roser? How does each relationship propel the story?
Isabel Allende is a prolific author. What makes this novel seem ‘close to the bone’ and how does she achieve this?
The patriarchal family unleashed diverging political views and offspring. Which characters surprised you the most? Were you routing for any of them and did your book club discussion move your opinion of them?
The author had a close friendship with the poet Pablo Neruda and was related to Allende. To what extent were these true stories fictionalised and why as a journalist did she use fiction to share this tale?
How did the quotes from Pablo Neruda at the beginning of each chapter compliment its content?
Did you enjoy the unfolding story of Alice’s life growing up? Did you think this was important and how does this compare to other recent memoirs that you have read such as Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ or Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’?
Do you think Alice and Andrew would have ended up together if not for the tragedy?
Charlie is clearly a charismatic, confident person who lives life to the full. By contrast Alice is an intelligent, unassuming and quiet person. Did you find their connection and love for each other believable and do you think they would have been happy together?
Did you like Alice throughout the book? Do you think her behaviour changed when she became famous and as such did you feel empathy or disappointment with her?
Did the chick-lit genre work with the author’s political narrative and the story of Laura Bush? Was this the right approach?
Did the novel enlighten you about the US Elections, the history of the Bush dynasty and the complex relationship between private and public life?
Could you respect Alice's decision at the end of the book? How did the end make you feel?
We learn early on how important novels and literary figures were to Deborah Feldman. Which literary figures inspired you and did they help you develop your own mind and views?
Given the historical context of the Satmar community and the author’s own family experiences of the Holocaust, how did you react to the imposed rules and values of ‘modesty and simplicity’ in 21st Century New York? Did it seem worse for women than men?
The absence of social media and modern city living including TV and radio is an eye opener for readers. How much can you live without and as we live through lockdown and its own restrictions, is there a greater appreciation of freedom?
What traditions and rituals did you find upsetting and were there any good aspects of a tight family community?
Do you think Deborah would have had a different outlook if her mother had not left her?
How did the photographs that punctuate the chapters deepen your understanding of the author’s family?
Deborah Feldman had a lucky opportunity at Sarah Lawrence College. Do you think she would have escaped without her Professor’s help, her blog and then the book? To what extent was the book ‘her ticket out’ of the Hasidic world?
Did you get the chance to see the Netflix mini-series and if so how did it compare or compliment your reading of Feldman’s memoir? Were you surprised that the film didn’t follow the same narrative as the book? Would this have been better?
THE WILD CARD