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Lark and Termite (Vintage Contemporaries)

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Lark and Termite (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Have you read any of Jayne Anne Phillips's other books? If so, in what ways is Lark and Termite similar to her earlier work, and how is it different?

2. Reread the quotations in the epigraph. Now that you've read the novel, what does each one mean to you?

3. On page 6, Leavitt thinks, "The war makes ghosts of them all." In what ways does this prove true? Which ghosts are literal, and which metaphorical?

4. Who is the strongest person in the novel? The weakest?

5. Mothers, and substitute mothers, play a substantial role in the novel. What do you think Jayne Anne Phillips is trying to say about motherhood?

6. Compare and contrast the sibling relationships in the novel: Lark and Termite, Nonie and Lola, and the nameless Korean pair.

7. Discuss the sense of sound as it relates to each of the main characters. In what ways does sound function differently for Termite than for Nonie or Lark? What about Leavitt and Lola? What does the sense of sound say about the importance of language?

8. Two different tunnels are the settings for major developments in the novel. What do they signify?

9. On page 27, Lola says of Lark, "I gave her a bird's name. Maybe she'll grow up safe and fly away." And on page 37 Lark discusses Termite’s nickname: "I think he's in himself like a termite's in a wall." What other names in the novel carry metaphorical weight?

10. Why does Charlie take care of Lola? What about Onslow?

11. "Termite can only tell the truth," Lark says on page 94. Who else tells the truth? Who lies? What are the ramifications?

12. What role does Solly play? What about his father, Nick?

13. Throughout the novel, we revisit events from different perspectives. How do the multiple takes change your understanding of what's happening?

14. On page 158, Lark says, "It's almost as though Stamble and Termite are related versions of something, but Stamble walks around in the world and Termite doesn't." Who is Robert Stamble? Why does Lark see him?

15. Where do you think Termite's new wheelchair really came from?

16. Discuss the flood. How is each character's life affected?

17. Reread and discuss the final Termite passages, on pages 276-277. What is revealed there?

18. Does the novel have a happy ending?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375701931
Author:
Phillips, Jayne Anne
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Family saga
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
20100131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.06x5.16x.89 in. .70 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Lark and Termite (Vintage Contemporaries) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 304 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375701931 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This is the story of 17-year-old Lark and her fierce devotion to her disabled brother, nicknamed Termite. It's also the story of their family: proud Aunt Nonie, who raises them; Robert, Termite's father, killed in the Korean War; and their wayward mother, Lola. Time is presented in a fluid, mingled fashion, as the past continues to have consequences in the present. Jayne Anne Phillips writes dazzling, tactile prose that engages all five senses, and here she presents a novel with true staying power, one that lingers in the mind well after the last page is turned.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Lark and Termite are two characters who will invade you. Lark, a young woman embarking on adulthood, has a sense of self for which most people can only dream. Termite, her younger brother, has a form of autism, yet his inner world is rich, layered, and lush.  The story of their parents slowly unravels as the novel progresses. It is heartbreaking when Lark, all alone, assumes an adult role well beyond her years in order to face a crisis. But at the heart of the story is her poignant relationship with Termite. Truly wonderful!

"Synopsis" by , Set in the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, "Lark and Termite" is a story of the power of loss and love; the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts; and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain a family.
"Synopsis" by , National Bestseller

New York Times Notable Book

Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year

Lark and Termite is a rich, wonderfully alive novel about seventeen year old Lark and her brother, Termite, living in West Virginia in the 1950s. Their mother, Lola, is absent, while their aunt, Nonie, raises them as her own, and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, is caught up in the early days of the Korean War. Award-winning author Jayne Anne Phillips intertwines family secrets, dreams, and ghosts in a story about the love that unites us all.

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