Do you have a book club? Here are your discussion questions for Waking Up Joy.
I’ve been the guest at some book clubs this year and I’ve loved hearing discussions of Waking Up Joy from the point of view of my readers. Thanks to reader input, there is now an official list of Book Club Discussion Questions for Waking Up Joy. 10 question are included here, but there is also a list of 15 that I compiled for libraries. I’m happy to provide those to book clubs who need a little more discussion. Thanks for choosing ‘Joy’ for your club!
- Joy Talley spends the first seven chapters narrating her story from inside her body, trapped in a coma. Why do you think the author made this choice, and what effect does it create?
- There are recurring themes of reawakening throughout the novel that reflect more than Joy’s medical awakening. For example, in the beginning of chapter seventeen Joy says, “I think reclining around in a coma makes one take a closer look at life. I did so and found mine to be very dull.” What other examples in the book reinforce a layered meaning of waking up?
- The novel is set in Northeastern Oklahoma where the state meets the corners of Arkansas and Missouri at the foot of the Ozarks and has a rich Southern feel. Did the author’s description of the setting match what you already knew about Oklahoma? How did the setting set the tone of the novel?
- Joy describes the Talley’s century-old farmhouse as a sagging example of Americana. How might the structure of the house, with its Inglenook chimney and hidden passages, serve as a metaphor for Joy’s personal journey?
- Spavinaw Junction is a small town, and yet Joy manages to keep her secret from everyone for decades. Why doesn’t she feel people in her town will be supportive? Thinking about how events unfold throughout the novel, how do her feelings about her small town change?
- How do the misguided actions of the quirky Talley family threaten to keep Joy from having a full future?
- All of the Talleys except for one have seen their dad’s ghost. When does he appear, and what do you think his presence means?
- Joy has to make a choice between the two men who love her. How does each man help Joy discover her true self, and how do you feel about her choice? What might have happened if she had chosen differently?
- How does the notion of luck and magic affect the Talley family? How does it affect Joy? What about the good parts? (The magic apple tree, the chocolate, the teas.) What purpose do they serve?
- Joy spends a large amount of time with her teenaged niece, Ruthie, who also serves as the daughter that Joy never had. How does Ruthie’s coming of age parallel Joy’s, and how do Ruthie’s actions affect the outcome of the story?
Southern Writers Magazine recently asked several writers how we overcame our biggest writing obstacle. My answer is quoted in the July/August 2015 Issue. They sent me this beautiful graphic to share with you, so I thought I would post it here. It also happens to be the magazine’s 4th anniversary celebration, so congrats Southern Writers! I’m proud to be mentioned in your magazine. Feel free to share the graphic, and I would love to hear how you overcome YOUR own obstacles.
Last year, Author Lisa Samson announced to her readers that she planned to pursue a new career for her life, and that A Thing of Beauty would be her last novel. Her readers are loyal, me among them, so we understood and supported her as she explained her reasons, but I have to admit that my selfish side was sad. I don’t want her to stop! After reading A Thing of Beauty, my sadness that she has stopped publishing books is renewed. I hope that someday, Lisa gives her readers another book, if it is right for her.
Lucky for you, if you are a new to Lisa’s books, she has a ton of them and it will take you some time to get through the list. Until then, this one’s a good place to start. Here’s my review:
Lisa Samson has held nothing back with her novel, A Thing of Beauty. Born into the Hollywood world, Fia divorced her parents and tries to create a life without them, but she struggles to find happiness on her own. She is an artist who doesn’t get around to finishing her projects and her life is in disarray, and yet in the messy journey of her life she meets someone who sees her for who she really is. Fia’s story is so different from ours, blowing up our fantasies of the celebrity world, but as we get to know her we discover that she is as flawed as we all are. At times, her feelings and failures were so very real, I was moved to tears. Ultimately, Fia’s journey and the un-Hollywood like ending to her story brings hope and meaning to the reader. I loved this novel.
I recently read two novels that I just had to share with you. Both of them are beautiful and lovely. One is by Kim Wright, a debut author, and one is Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants). I think I initially connected with both of them because of time I spent living in the U.K. when I was young, but as I read each one I fell in love with the books because of the complex and beautifully written stories. I highly recommend both of them for your Summer Reading lists.
Kim Wright’s novel The Canterbury Sisters is a delight to read. I would especially recommend it for book clubs who enjoy the explorations of friendship and the journey of womanhood. It’s refreshing to read about a character in her forties who still has a lot of life to live. Maybe it’s because I’m forty-ish myself, but I don’t think I’m old, and I’m glad that Che doesn’t think she is either, although she has gratefully come to a point in her life when the truth of her own journey, and of the other women in Broads Abroad, can lend perspective on who she has become. I think I enjoyed the story even more since I’ve trekked through England myself a few times, but I was much younger than Che’s character at the time. Reading The Canterbury Sisters made me want to travel again, so “broads” who dream of going “abroad” will love this story for its adventurous quality. Just beware, you might find yourself booking a trip to England after you’ve read it.
At the Water’s Edge is a mesmerizing novel full of rich meaning and the heartfelt struggle of a young woman’s journey to find out who she really is. To make it that much more meaningful, the protagonist’s journey to find self is thrust upon her. She is constantly tossed around by those who surround her. They decide everything for her and she doesn’t seem to have any say about anything. As her husband and their best friend search for the monster of Loch Ness, she is searching for a creature within herself that may just eat her own soul if she doesn’t manage to start living for herself. Personally, I took a trip to Drumnadrochit myself when I was living in the U.K. and I understand the pull of the monster in the Loch. You can’t stand on the banks without imagining if it’s really in there, but Sara Gruen took this universal feeling that many tourists and locals must have felt at times, and she wove a story so deep and real that it makes us as readers think about the monsters that live within ourselves. Lovely.
Before there was Spavinaw Junction, the quirky little Oklahoma town in my recent novel, Waking Up Joy, there was La Rosaleda. La Rosaleda is a fictional town in the Sonoma Valley of California and is where my first two novels are set. While those novels are Women’s Fiction, many of my readers have loved the romantic threads that weave through the lives of the women in Ruby Among Us and Rose House.
Recently Waking Up Joy received the honor of being named a 2015 HOLT Medallion finalist in the “Best Novel With Romantic Elements” category, more evidence that I keep weaving romance into my Women’s Fiction novels. To celebrate my being a 2015 HOLT Finalist, I’m having a contest! I’m giving away a signed copy of each of my first two novels in the La Rosaleda Series: Ruby Among Us and Rose House.
This Giveaway Has Ended. Congratulations to reader Deborah Blanchard!
Thanks for entering! If you don’t want to wait, remember that Ruby Among Us and Rose House are both available to purchase at your favorite online store, or you can order them from your local indie bookstore. Find your store at Indiebound.
Purchase RUBY AMONG US: Amazon Barnes and Noble BooksaMillion Kobo iBook
Purchase ROSE HOUSE: Amazon Barnes and Noble BooksaMillion Kobo iBook
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