ama (ama_blue) wrote in ontd_sassenach,

November Book Club Discussion: Here be Dragons

It's time for a discussion of our second book club read: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman! I'm bad and just cribbed the questions from the publisher's book club guide for the novel.

Remember, December's book club read is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier! Our discussion of that book will take place on Tuesday, December 29th. Now, onto this month's book club discussion...

  • Medieval society was rigidly stratified and upward mobility was an alien concept. Can people in the 21st century identify with a world in which a man or woman's destiny was almost always determined by birth?

  • Discuss the different status of women in a Celtic society like Wales as opposed to a feudal society like medieval England. Think particularly about the laws and rules governing marriage and the dissolution thereof. Would you rather have been a Welsh or English wife?

  • Discuss the impact of a sexual double standard on the characters in this novel. Who benefits and who is punished for their sexual adventures and why? Why was male infidelity perceived as acceptable, and why was it not deemed acceptable for women?

  • How did you feel when you learned that not only did King John marry Isabella when she was only 12, but also bedded her immediately?

  • Why is it that King John was utterly reviled for centuries due to the death of his nephew Arthur and various other dishonorable deeds, when his brother Richard killed even more freely, and suffered little or no consequence?

  • A constant theme in this novel is Joanna’s relationship with her father King John, and the conflicts between John and Joanna’s husband, Llewelyn. If you were in such a situation, how would you handle it? Would you take the part of your father or husband?

  • What did you think of Joanna’s reasons for having an affair with Will de Broase? Considering the political implications for Llewelyn, did you think he would be able to forgive her? Were you surprised when he did?

  • What did you think of the Pope’s willingness to use excommunication as a tool to compel kings to do his bidding? Was it an effective tool, or did it cause more harm than good?

  • Which characters did you find to be the most compelling and why?

Tags: book discussion, sassy book club
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