Synopses & Reviews
1. Why do you think this novel is entitled The Sense of Paper
? What meaning do you think the word "sense" has in this title? Is it an apt title? A great title? What role does "sense" play in the novel?
2. Each section starts with a technical term for different forms of paper. Is each term a metaphor for what happens in the section of the story that follows?
3. Charlie quit her job as a journalist and became estranged from her husband. Why is Charlie running so desperately from her past?
4. Discuss your reaction to how Charlie handles various situations throughout the book, such as meeting Sarah Matheson and learning Angelas history. Do you think she's troubled? Snoopy? Would you handle similar situations in the same way Charlie did?
5. Charlie and Carrie shared so much together, but took very different paths. Still, Carrie always came to Charlie as a friend and as a sister. Who do you think is the stronger of the two? What do you think of their friendship dynamic?
6. Charlie was once a tough journalist—tracking down the facts in countries torn apart by violence. Why is Charlie so reliant on Alan for her current book project?
7. Charlie and Alan are both unstable and have a lot of secrets. What do you think of their relationship? Are they good for each other or not? Are they addicted to each other for the wrong reasons?
8. Is there a common link to be found with the women in Alans life? Charlie, Sarah, Lori, Angela, Susie Ball? What are these women hiding?
9. Why is Charlie so intrigued by Angela? What feelings and similarities were unraveled during this search?
10. Why did Charlie choose to write a book on paper? How did Turner inspire her interests? What parallels can be drawn from Turner's life to the lives of the characters in the novel?
11. What did you learn about the history of paper? What lengths did people go to make paper? To get the "right" paper?
12. In this novel, paper plays a big role. Could paper be considered another character? Major or minor? How does it move the story along?
13. Could paper be seen as a metaphor? For what?
14. It is so easy for people to take paper for granted. While reading this novel, did you become more aware of paper—its many physical qualities as well as its many uses? Its beauty as an object in and of itself? How?
15. Do you think Charlie will ever begin to heal? To grow?
"British journalist Holden (Shell Shock) delivers a superior novel of suspense in her well-plotted fiction debut. Charlotte 'Charlie' Hudson, a former reporter suffering from physical and psychological wounds incurred while covering the war in Kosovo, decides to give up on the book she's writing about Kosovo and begin one on her new passion handmade art papers and the use thereof by the great 19th-century British painter, J.M.W. Turner. Part of this passion involves a growing romantic attraction to world-famous painter Sir Alan Matheson. Holden weaves pages of esoteric paper lore into a tale that involves Charlie's tenuous mental stability and the growing mystery surrounding the suicide death of Sir Alan's daughter, Angela. Readers who are interested in art history and artists' lives will find themselves enthralled with the depth and scope of information, while those with less intellectual tastes may find themselves guiltily skipping ahead. Holden is the pseudonym of Wendy Holden, who has covered wars for the Daily Telegraph. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Think for a moment what paper means to people. How ubiquitous it is in everyday life….A material of paradoxes, it can be used and abused in a thousand ways and still be the same under its skin. It is the embodiment of mans achievement, yet it is as transient and as flimsy as tissue…. In its strengths and weaknesses, faults and flaws, it is intensely human….”
A lush and intoxicating blend of art history, eroticism, and suspense, Taylor Holden's The Sense of Paper is like no other debut novel youve ever read. An enthralling exploration of the role of paper in art, it is also the sumptuous story of a woman living on the dangerous edge of obsession, passion, and murder.
As an emotionally fragile journalist recovers from war trauma, she immerses herself in the study of the history of handmade art paper and its influence on the artist J.M.W. Turner--a scholarly project that might prove the most dangerous minefield she's ever encountered.
About the Author
Taylor Holden, as Wendy Holden, was a respected journalist for The Daily Telegraph, where she covered wars and events around the world, including Northern Ireland, the US, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. She has co-written several autobiographies of remarkable women, including Goldie Hawn's recent New York Times bestseller. She lives in Suffolk, England, with her husband and four dogs. This is her first novel.