Synopses & Reviews
Molly Benson longs to be useful, and forges ahead by giving away sums of her own money in a rather messy manner. In Princeton, New Jersey, where she has always lived, Molly is viewed as eccentric by the upper-class world that her mother inhabits. Equally puzzling to people is Molly's passion for Graham Greene and his novels; she believes that their intermittent correspondence has afforded them a special bond. After the death of her brother, Molly loves Greene more than anyone, and it is he who inspires her to answer to conscience.
It is in honor of the great novelist, a year after his death in 1991, that Molly leads a small delegation to Algiers, where a fierce civil war has just begun. Molly's plan is to give money to Algerian journalists and writers so that they will be able to protect themselves from the fundamentalists, who are killing the enemies of Islam. It does not occur to Molly that she is putting herself, her best friend, Bertie Einhorn, and a young, garrulous English historian, Toby Plunkett, in danger. Her courage and an inbred sense of self-entitlement--a characteristic of the small Princeton world she scorns--blind her to the possibilities of harm, and the odd little group marches to disaster.
Comic and touching in turn, Loving Graham Greene is a splendid combination of American high hopes and obstinacy, of foolishness and betrayal, in the first novel of a gifted and witty writer.
A compelling story about a woman whose obsessions with a great writer inspires her to commit an act with unforeseen consequences. The author's "Winners & Losers" won a National Book Award in 1978.
About the Author
Gloria Emerson's book Winners & Losers, on the Vietnam War and its effects on Americans, won a National Book Award in 1978. She has traveled to El Salvador, Gaza, and Algiers.
Reading Group Guide
1. Why is Molly so infatuated with Graham Greene?
2. Why does Bertie continually side with Molly and her beliefs?
3. Consider Molly and Bertie's escapade to the El Salvadorian ambassador's apartment. Do you think the prank was childish or frightening? If you think it was childish, what do you think Molly and Bertie were trying to accomplish?
4. Do you think Molly's wealth has anything to do with her intense social and political views?
5. What exactly prompts Molly to undertake the trip to Algiers? Do we ever have total insight into Molly's emotions? If not, what was the author trying to accomplish by making Molly's motives veiled?
6. Why do Eugene and Lucien choose to sequester themselves in their small house?
7. Were you surprised when the travelers were attacked in the Casbah? Why or why not?
8. Consider the fact that the accused assailants, once arrested, were probably being tortured by the police. What do you think Toby thought of this? What about Molly and Bertie's thoughts?
9. Why didn't Molly turn Ahmad's brother in?
10. Did Molly's views change at all after her trip? In what ways?