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Cover photo by Melanie Wills
Group Discussion Questions
- Discuss the authors claim that the characters in
this novel are not modern people prancing around in historical costumes,
but are true to their time in history. How is Rowena a product of her era
- Discuss the roles of women and children in the
19th century. How restrictive were their lives? What were their
legal rights? Discuss the different ways that the female characters in the
novel deal with these restrictions.
- Compare the experiences of immigrants today with those
of the pioneers. Immigrants bring along prejudices from the Old
World as well as their cultures. How is this exemplified in the novel? In
what ways was the New World better and worse than the one the
immigrants had left behind?
- In what ways was life difficult for the pioneers? Is
there anything about their lives that appeals to us today? In what way has this
novel changed your impressions about pioneer life?
- How are class differences exemplified in the novel?
How were they less strict than in the old Country?
- Guilt is a theme throughout the book. How much of a
role did it play in characters actions and choices? Is it justified?
Consider especially Rowena, Jeremy, and Keir.
- People often married for reasons other than love
security, money, power, companionship, and so forth. For women, marriage was
particularly important, since there were few respectable jobs that a woman
could do to support herself. Discuss the motivation and success of various
marriages in the novel. Could Rowena and Brendan have made a success of their
- Considering their strong personalities and the
differences in their backgrounds, could Rowena and Jeremy have had a successful
relationship? Should Rowena have become his mistress?
- How much of a role did the primitive,
uncivilized nature of the backwoods play in the characters
behaviour and in events? Would things have been different if they had been in
the Old Country?
- Evaluate the role of stereotypes in the 19th
century and today. How did they influence events in the novel? Was Keir
justified in concentrating on his English heritage rather than his Irish?
- How much of a role does societys perception and
labelling of people influence their behaviour and choices? How much of an
influence did Keirs bastardy have on the man he would become?
- Was Jillian justified in her actions against Geoffrey?
What could or should she have done differently? Do you feel that justice was
- Careful and extensive research went into this book.
How has this added to the enjoyment of this novel?
- Did you find any elements of this book particularly
memorable or inspiring? Did any characters especially impress you?
© 2008 Gabriele Wills, Photos Copyright © 2008 Melanie Wills