25 Women to Read Before You Die

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The Master Bedroom


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ISBN13: 9780312427979
ISBN10: 0312427972
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think happens in Suzies mind when the swan falls on her car? How does that event lead into all the changes in her behavior over the course of the novel—her interest in mysticism, her break with David?

2. "Even when [Kate] was a teenager, shed always known that this thing, this falling into a new obsession, was something you did to yourself." (pg. 79.) Do you think this is true of Kate? Is it true generally? Can we protect ourselves from these kind of feelings? Do they ever take hold without some willingness on our part?

3. How do the various characters rely on art, music and literature in their lives? How does the author use their tastes in art (or lack of them) to express other aspects of their personalities?

4. Why does the author include the short scene of David and Suzies first meeting (pp. 21-22)? Is there an understanding there, or a misunderstanding, that determines the course of their relationship?

5. What about David makes him attractive to Kate? What draws them together? Is it a genuine connection, or are they both seeking to escape their lives?

6. Is Kates cleverness a defense mechanism? Is it genuine?

7. What role does the house, Firenze, play in the novel? How do its history and its contents affect the characters interactions, and particularly Kates state of mind?

8. Were you surprised by Kates ideas about politics (pp 222-224)? Do you think there is any validity to what shes saying here, or is she purely aiming to shock the other guests?

9. Late in the novel, David has a dream that leads directly to his realization that he wants to be with Kate (pp. 276-277). How does this happen? What does he see in the dream that alters his thinking? How do you interpret the dream?

10. What do you think David sees in traffic at the end of the novel (pg. 309)? Is it entirely a figment of his imagination? Is some supernatural force at work? What is the connection between this instance and the opening scene, in which the swan falls onto Suzies car?

11. Do you think Menna, the fortune teller, is a fraud, capitalizing on Suzies desire to believe, or does she truly have access to some special knowledge? Do you think that some people truly do possess those abilities?

12. Is Kate unfair to Jamie? Does she take advantage of him?

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OneMansView, May 30, 2011 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Gloomy Wales permeates story (3.25*s)

This gloomy novel set in rainy, cold Wales is a scarcely satisfactory attempt to shed light on the major change that Russian literature professor Kate Flynn is making in her life by abandoning a successful London university career and returning to her large, crumbling childhood estate in Cardiff, Wales to, in theory, care for her 80-something mother Billie, suffering from dementia.

Despite a certain awkwardness in style ��" for example, using dashes in lieu of quotations - requiring constant rereading, the author is highly observant concerning the surroundings and people, in general. But, her characters are puzzling.

The discontents of the unmarried diminutive, attractive Kate are never made clear, but she has always had a healthy interest in the opposite sex. She begins a uncertain relationship with David Roberts, a childhood friend and public health physician, who is having marital woes ��" his wife Suzie is spending a great deal of time with a counter-culture group. Most surprising is her willingness to become involved, after a chance encounter in a local café, with David’s eldest son from a previous marriage, 17-year-old Jamie ��" a relationship that is secretive, tentative, and sexual.

Despite the proximity of these individuals there are few interactions and consequently there are no conflict-fueled resolutions and only minimal clarifications ensue. The teenage Jamie takes far more initiative than the other two, who are strangely hesitant, indecisive, at every turn. The gloom of the Wales setting: the rain, the darkness, the mud, the furnaces not working, etc, seems to have a dulling impact on the entire book. The initial possibilities for this book are just not satisfactorily realized.
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Product Details

Hadley, Tessa
St. Martins Press-3pl
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.83 x 5.84 x 0.985 in

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