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Abide with Meby Elizabeth Strout
Reading Group Guide
1. Do you think small-town life is that different from city life?
2. What do you think the “voice” of this novel is telling you, besides what it says? That is, what kind of tone does it set-what kind of character (not the author) might be telling you this story?
3. Pick out some of the passages about nature in the ﬁrst part of the book and see if you can discern the authors implicit attitude toward the New England landscape and toward nature in general.
4. What does the state of Tylers house at the beginning of the book say about him and his family? Are they different by the end?
5. This book raises the question of whether a fathers parenthood is necessarily different from a mothers-a question that concerns us to this day. What do you think about this controversial topic?
6. Why do you think Tylers daughter, Katherine, stops speaking after her mothers death? When and why does she ﬁnd her voice again?
7. This book is set during the height of the Cold War. Do you think the era plays an important role in the story, or is it just a backdrop?
8. What are Tylers strengths and what are his weaknesses? How do they affect his ability to perform his role in the community?
9. The role of the clergy in small communities during the ﬁfties is presented vividly through the story of Tyler Caskey. Do you think the clergys role has changed over time in these places and in general?
10. Whether you are religious or not, how did you respond to Tyler Caskeys intense involvement with matters of faith and belief?
11. In some ways, Abide with Me is about class distinctions, even in this egalitarian community. How conscious were you of this aspect of the book as you read it?
12. Find examples where the weather serves as a metaphorical backdrop for Tylers story, and explain.
13. The novel uses domestic interiors, architecture, and lighting to complement its scenes and themes. Can you give some examples of this?
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