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June 2006

BY Gwynne Dyer

1. What do you think about the rankings below ac?
- First magnitude disaster: three billion people die, global nuclear war, Black Death.
- Second magnitude disaster: hundreds of millions of people die, Third World War, AIDS epidemic.
- Third magnitude disaster: ten to fifty million people die, first/second world ward, Spanish influenza.
- Fourth magnitude disaster: two or three million people die, Korea War/Vietnam/Sudan, nuclear melt down densely populated area, megaton-range bomb.
- Fifth magnitude disaster: quarter million range, Lisbon earthquake, Krakatoa explosion, bombing of Hiroshima, Yugoslavia war.
- Sixth magnitude disaster: 20,000 to 50,000 people die, war in Iraq, earthquake in Iran, Arab-Israel Ward of 1967.
- Seventh magnitude disaster: three thousand deaths, IRA war in Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine War, 9/11 attacks – as many Americans die each month from gunshot wounds monthly.

2. What will happen when the US loses its status and power?

3. Were you surprised at the affect the USSR had on the world when its structure collapsed?

4. What is the Islamist Project? p. 75

5. Why did the US attack Iraq and did the response of their allies surprise them?

6. What are the stakes discussed in this book? p. 47

7. What is the current system of power balance? p. 201

8. What is the Neo-Conservative Project? p. 114, p, 124, p. 125.

9. Do you believe that the foundations of World War III are being laid today?

10. Is the war in Iraq a sideshow and the terrorist threat a red herring?

May 2006

By Joanna Trollope

1. Sasha is a catalyst in this story. Why does she encourage Nathalie and David to find their birth parents? Do you actually think she is interested only in research?

2. Nathalie and David have a strong sibling bond. Is this natural? How does this bond change through out the course of the story?

3. “The myth is … that adoptive parents get what they want… The reality is no pregnancy, no preparation and a lifetime of fears and pretence and expectations.” P. 173-174 Lynne and Ralph are the adoptive parents in the story. Do they reflect the above observation by Sasha?

4. Joanna Trollop’s characters are very vivid and realistic. How does she achieve this? Which character did you like the best?

5. “The theory that all adoptees are interested in where they come from. Lack of interest is merely a defense.” Why was Nathalie so interested in where she came from even though her previous attitude was disdain? Did she achieve her objectives?

6. David was not interested in finding his birth parents. Why did he have no interest?

7. Why are birth mothers usually searched for and found, and there is not as much interest in birth fathers? They both contribute the same amount of DNA.

8. Chess is a symbol in this story. What part does it play in David’s life?

9. “I’m afraid” Elaine said, “that your adoptive mother, has to stay out of this. This isn’t her journey.” P. 112-1113. Do you agree with this? How do you think adoptive mothers feel about their children looking for their birth parents?

10. The Canadian connection through Marnie, David’s wife, is very refreshing. However, does this character perpetuate the Canadian myth of identity?

April 2006

Reading  Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi

1. Why is “Lolita” used as a control motif for this book? Did you read “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov? Do you plan to read it again?

2. Has this book changed your opinion of the revolution in Iran and the Islamic religion?

3. Do you think revolutions are a positive way of changing the existing power structures? Are revolutions like forest fires? How do books in this memoir affect the women involved in the book club? Do the books in our book club have the same affect?

4. Does peer pressure and sociological forces affect you? In what way does the group influence you? How does the group in this memoir influence each other?

5. The “Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald provides sustenance for the reading group. How do you feel it does this?

6. Does the character of Jay Gatsby and his relationship with Daisy make a difference in this group? Jay and Daisy Fay are American icons. Why would they be of interest?

7. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin is examined in a completely different light with the metaphor of a dance. What do you think of this explanation? How does this novel fit into the lives of this group of women in Iran?

8. Have you read any of Henry James’ work? Is Daisy Miller a familiar heroine to you? Does she provide a good role model for these women?

9. Why do you think “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain is included in the books that the book club reads?

10. The relationship between men and women in Iran is very strained. Are there any comparisons with the situation between men and women in Canada?

March 2006

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
By Mark Haddon

1. How did Asperger’s Syndrome affect Christopher John Francis Boone?

2. How did Asperger’s Syndrome affect the style and plot of the book?

3. Did the story keep you interested in reading the book? Did it remind you of the quest legends?

4. How the did the relationship of Christopher’s parents contribute the plot?

5. Was the relationship of Christopher’s parents usual with children who have Asperger’s Syndrome?

6. The dog Wellington was killed in the first chapter. This death was a catalyst in the book. How did it change Christopher’s life?

7. Where you surprised that Christopher was able to make the journey to London by himself?

8. Did you feel that the school system supported Christopher and his family? Was it realistic?

9. How does the Ontario school system compare with the British system?

10. If you had to look into the future for Christopher, how do you think he would make out? What is the prognosis for Christopher

 February 2006

by Ian McEwan

  1. Why does Henry not wake Rosaline when he sees the airplane crash just before dawn – 3:30 hours (p. 15)?
    What significance does this airplane crash in the book and does this quote from     Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) highlight and give significance to the event?

    Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
    Light half-believers in our casual creeds…
    Who hesitate and falter life away,
    And lose to-morrow the ground won today…
    Ah, do not we, Wanderer, await it too?
    The Scholar-Gipsy (18530 l 171
    How does the structure of the book contribute to the mood and the plot?

  2.  “It’s a commonplace of parenting and modern genetics that parents have little or no influence on the characters of their children” p. 25. Do you agree with this statement? Does the author prove this point in his book?

  3. “To see a world in a grain of sand” p. 27 a quote from William Blake (1757-1827) – Auguries of Innocence, 1.

    To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And Eternity in an hour.

    How does the phrase encompass the book?

  4. “Absorbing variation on an unchanging theme” p. 27. What is the theme of this book and what variations are played?

  5. How does the anti-war demonstrations in London and around the world fit into this day? Is Henry for or against this war in Iraq?

  6. How does Rosalind fare in the story? Is she fully conceptualized?

  7. Both Daisy and Theo are very strong and creative children. How do they fit into the family and the story line?

  8. What role does Baxter and Nigel play? How did Daisy’s reading of the poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold cast a spell?

December 2005

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Alexander McCall Smith

The following questions about the book In The Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith were discussed at the Book Club meeting held on  

Saturday, December 3.

  1. Precious Ramotswe, a Botswanan private investigator, is the major character of this novel. How does she fit into her world?
  2. Does the Botswana depicted in this series of novels jive with your preconceived idea of this location?
  3. How does Mma Makutsi add to the ambience of this novel?
  4. Does Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni measure up to your ideal husband material?
  5. How does the writing style of Alexander McCall Smith draw you into the story and background of this novel?
  6. Do you get a clear picture of the landscape and living conditions of the characters in this novel?
  7. What story line do you find most interesting in this book?
  8. Do you feel that the author has a clear grasp of the politics of this region of Africa?
  9. Do the characters, plotting and place of action remind you of any other author?
  10. What do you like or dislike about this book?

After a good discussion of the book, the annual Christmas cookie exchange was held. Everyone went home with a great variety of cookies.

Many thanks to Sylvia for hosting Book Club and the cookie exchange.

October 2005

Frank Parker Day

  1. There are many themes in this book. One theme is Jason and the Golden Fleece. The Greek tragedy tradition is very prevalent is this novel. How does David Jung compare to Jason.

  2. Another influence is “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. A copy of the play is given to David Jung by Mary Dauphany, but many of the characters in the book and the plot reflect the play. What similarities did you notice?

  3. This book deals with life in Nova Scotia in the twenties. What is the most striking aspect of this time period for you.

  4. This story depicts a tight knit social structure on the island with the women taking care of the children, there own and others. How are women treated in this story: Anapest Kraus, Fanny the potato girl, Mary Dauphany, Mrs. Uriah Jung, and her daughters Ruth and Tamar.

  5. The ocean is a strong character and influence in the story. What limitations does it place on the people living on the islands?

  6. Uriah Jung is a dominant character. How does he control the story?

  7. Discuss the issue of women’s liberation in this book.

  8. Survival, a typical Canadian theme, is very strong in this book. Who are the survivors?

  9. Gershom Born, an archetype of Shakespearean standards brings out a rich maritime personality trait. What do you think of him?

  10. Mary Dauphany is a catalyst that stirs up feelings in David Jung, Caspar Jung and Gershom Born. How does this love story affect the plot?