I have had the pleasure of attending many book group discussions on “The Seasons of the EmmaLee” and have found each experience a wonderful opportunity to meet interesting people and get marvelous and honest feedback on my book.
If your bookgroup is interested in reading “EmmaLee” or the new “On Past Horton Creek” I would be happy to attend in person if you are located anywhere within an hour or two of homebase, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Or if you’re in California or Texas, or Costa Rica, or wherever, I can call in.
The reading group guides below have some suggested discussion questions. I hope to hear from you soon.
“The Seasons of the EmmaLee” Discussion Guide
1. What was your overall impression of the book? Which characters were you most drawn to?
2. The book is written in alternating chapters going back and forth from the 1940’s and present day. Did you find this technique effective in carrying the different story lines forward?
3. At the beginning of the book the author includes a quotation from William Somerset Maugham…”We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” Which characters in the book do you feel this idea most relates to?
4. The primary setting for the book is in Charlevoix, Michigan. Even if you’ve never been to Northern Michigan how do you feel the location added to or impacted the story?
5. The character, George Hansen, served as a narrator to set up much of the early story as well as being an important participant in both the early and later story lines. What was your impression of the strength of George’s character in helping both Jonathan and later Sally, through very difficult challenges?
6. Did you consider Luke McKendry to be a “tragic” character, or just truly evil? What caused Luke to head down such a destructive path? On page 237 when his brother Jonathan says, “How many times have I tried to help Luke and reach out to him? Some people just don’t want to be helped,” do you agree that Luke felt that he was beyond help?
7. What message did the scene with Jonathan and George riding down to the Holy Island Bridge try to convey?
8. How did you react to Emily Compton’s character as she defied her family and friends to come to Jonathan’s defense and ultimately to fall in love with him?
9. How would you describe Connor Harris and his role in the story? Do you feel that he was adequately punished for his deeds?
10. After a failed marriage, Sally Thomason then lost her parents and daughter in a tragic boating accident. She turned to the comfort of a woman, Gwen Roberts, to find a new path in her life. How did you feel about Sally’s relationship with Gwen and how it was affected when she later met Alex Clark?
11. How did you feel about Gwen’s reactions to Sally and Alex’s courtship and final decision on their future?
12. Sally finds an unfinished painting of her lost daughter. What role did that painting play throughout the story?
13. If there was a sequel to this story, what would happen to characters like Gwen Roberts? Would she stay in Charlevoix or return to New York. What about Mary Alice Gregory, the uptight and snobby socialite? Would would become of Alex and Sally?
“On Past Horton Creek” Discussion Guide
1. In this sequel to “The Seasons of the EmmaLee”, which characters did you most enjoy revisiting?
2. Several characters with “evil intent” in the first book were more severely dealt with in “Horton Creek”. Did you find some joy and closure in their ultimate fates?
3. What reaction did you have to the portrayal of Native Americans in the stories?
4. A recent book review stated the “Horton Creek” was well conceived and written, but too ambitious, trying to cover too many storylines and characters. Would you agree?
5. What was your reaction to the narrator of the story, George Hansen, reflecting on events from “beyond the grave” and even influencing the outcome of the story in the end when he “appeared” in Sara’s bedroom? Have you had your own “paranormal” experience?
6. Did you think that Sally Thomason Clark responded appropriately to the overtures made to her husband by his attractive attorney?
7. Do you feel that “Horton Creek” captured the same “sense of place” and feel for Northern Michigan as “EmmaLee”?
8. What elements of the story did you find most appealing? What didn’t work for you?
9. Sally dealt with a number of difficult issues in the first book, including her sexuality. How did you feel about how she was dealing with life in this story?
10. Was the use of alternating chapters for the two timeframes effective and which story most interested you?
11. Which storylines and characters from the first two books would you like to see further developed in a third novel?