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ICE Breakers



To what extent do you think this book must be in part autobiographical?
Love is an important element to this story. What does this book tell you about the resilience of children and their willingness to see the good in someone they love?
Do you think Agnes could ever have overcome her addiction if the men in her life had stayed by her side?
Were you surprised that Agnes and her family were able to escape social services so easily?
The Den also recently read 'Motherwell', the memoir by Deborah Orr which is also a story of growing up in working class Glasgow, a decade earlier. How do you think they compare?
Do you see this story as a tragedy or do you think the book gives hope?



Setterfield has a wonderful ability to draw you in to all of her characters. Did you find your allegiance changing throughout the novel? Who was your favourite character and why?
The identity of the mystery child is key to the story. How did your opinion of her origins fluctuate throughout the story?
The River is integral to the story – how does the path and changes in the river mirror the different layers of the story?
How do folklore and myths add to this story?
Do you think Rita was ahead of her time?
Do you think Lily was strong or weak?
Setterfield’s love of nature and science reminded us of Where The Crawdads Sing which the Den read recently. What other books does Once Upon A River remind you of?
Would you agree that Setterfield is a master of storytelling?


How would you describe these essays to a friend? How are they different from short stories and did you enjoy them?
Zadie Smith explores the personal impact of the pandemic in her life and work. What philosophical truths did you discover? How has the pandemic changed the way you live your life? What do you do differently?
"There is no great difference between novels and banana bread.". Did you feel closer to Zadie Smith and her craft?
Which 'essay' did you enjoy the most and which surprised you? Were there any stand out essays in you mind that were both reflective and stirred conversation with your book club friends.
Has 'Intimations: Six Essays' given rise to revisiting one of Smith's acclaimed novels 'White Teeth' or 'On Beauty'. What Missed Opportunity reads by Smith would you recommend?


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