Please click on the titles below for Book Club discussion questions.
I have drawn up the following questions to assist book clubs who have chosen to discuss The Keeper: A Martial Arts Thriller*. Have fun with them!Natasha
Discussion questions: 10
One of the themes in The Keeper: A Martial Arts Thriller* is that ordinary life is filled with magic. If you think there is something wholly mysterious that lurks at the edge of your peripheral vision... you may be right! Do you agree? Do you believe in paranormal and mystical experiences? If you don't, did the author still manage to create a believable world within the pages of the book?
Who is your favorite character? Please give reasons.
Nick loves Mia completely. But he also admits that he is uncomfortable with the fact that she is a Keeper. He realizes that Mia and Ash inhabit a world he doesn't understand. Do you think this bodes ill for their relationship later in life? Do you think Mia and Nick's relationship may be doomed to one day mirror the troubled relationship between Molly and Juan?
In one of the entries of The Book of Light and Dust, Ash writes:
Love and life: locked together throughout evolution like binary stars. Is the desire for love as strong as the desire for life? Which is the prime directive; which the secondary, weaker force? Love conquers all, we say, as though it truly has the power to defeat that older, darker imperative.
What do you think? Can you come up with examples in literature and history where either the one or the other has triumphed? In The Keeper: A Martial Arts Thriller* Molly held on to the unconscious body of her husband and drowned with him, even though she could have saved herself if she had let go and swam for the shore. Do you think her decision rings true? Do you think this might happen outside the pages of a book?
One of the central premises of the book is that the modern world with its ever increasing reliance on virtual relationships drains us of our emotional energy. We form relationships on social networking sites where we're not really sure whether the people we meet are who they say they are. In the dojo, you can't hide, and you can't log off when you are bored with someone's company. Would you agree that this a more real and ultimately healthier environment in which to connect emotionally? Or does the idea of training to fight in the ring cancel out the positive aspects of the camaraderie experienced by fighters in the dojo?
The phrase Freud used: homo homini lupus — man is a wolf to man — is a proverb used by Plautus and also by Thobas Hobbes. Freud also drew on it and believed the 'restrictions of instinct' to be at the heart of modern man's feelings of depression. Do you agree with him that the imperative of violence and domination is hardwired into our genes? Do you think that if we repress these urges, they will find other ways in which to manifest themselves e.g. teenagers playing highly violent, if 'bloodless' computer games? Mixed Martial Arts (UFC) is the fastest growing spectator sport in the US. Why do you think that is?
Has your idea of fighters and the fighting world changed after reading this book? For the better or for worse?
And tattoo artists? Do you look at the world of body art differently after reading this story? Has it changed your opinion of body art?
At the end of the book, we see Ash as an old, broken man. Do you have any sympathy with him?
Would you agree that Ash is the one character in the book that makes a spiritual journey? Why?
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*First published in the US as Keeper of Light and Dust.
The Literally Drinking Book Club in Houston, Texas created a themed evening for their discussion of Season of the Witch. The girls wore red and black wigs, drank berry wine and decorated the room with African masks and red roses!
(Click on an image to see a larger version.)
Book club questions for Season of the Witchby Natasha Mostert
I have drawn up the following questions to assist book clubs who have chosen to discuss Season of the Witch. Have fun with them!
At the beginning of Season of the Witch, Gabriel is hip, sexy, self-assured and in control of his life. At the end of the book we see him much older and in the grip of obsession. Do you think he has grown during his journey or has he become a diminished, sad figure?
One of the themes in Season of the Witch is that ordinary life is filled with magic. If you think there is something wholly mysterious lurking at the edge of your peripheral vision... you may be right! Do you agree? Do you believe in paranormal and mystical experiences? If you don't, did the author still manage to create a believable world within the pages of the book?
Gabriel falls in love with a voice in a diary. Do you think this is a realistic scenario? When the author started writing the book, she pitched the idea to friends to test their reaction. All the women thought the idea romantic and plausible whereas the reaction of some of the men ranged from disbelieving laughter to a more diplomatic 'Nothing is impossible.' What is your view?
Following on from the above question: Do you believe it is precisely because the woman in the diary is unattainable that Gabriel becomes obsessed with her? Do you agree that unresolved sexual tension lies at the heart of attraction?
Which of the two sisters is the more attractive? Please give reasons for your answer.
The two witches in the novel are information addicts and they are building a memory palace in order to strengthen their memory and use it as a tool to reach enlightenment.
Do you agree with the central premise of the book that the memories of people today are far weaker than those of our ancestors - even those of our grand-parents? Before the advent of the printing press, people had to remember everything. Today we need only click a mouse and we have an ocean of information at our fingertips. But do technological advances weaken our ability to recollect? And does it matter?
At the end of Season of the Witch, Gabriel writes: 'One of the crueler jokes of creation is being burdened with brains capable of conceptualizing a state of higher consciousness we have little hope of ever achieving. But we can strive, walking with hands outstretched like a blind man trying to orient himself in an alien place. And sometimes our clumsy fingers graze the mind of God.'
Do you agree that most people feel a pervasive sense of discontent within themselves - a yearning for something bigger and finer that lies outside their frame of reference? Would you say this lies at the heart of the human condition?
DARK PRAYER is a novel about memory and the way it shapes our identity. Are you a person who believes it is necessary to confront past demons head-on? Do you believe it is healthy to go into therapy and dredge up repressed memories? Or do you agree with Bella that people who age best are those who create memories of themselves and the ones they love, which may not necessarily be accurate, but which give them hope and comfort?
Eloise is faced with a stark choice: She can choose to regain her memory and with it her sanity, but in return she will completely forget her new identity and the man she has come to love. If you were in her shoes, what would have been your choice? Why?
In DARK PRAYER mention is made of real-time research into the memory molecule, which is currently being undertaken by the Sackler Lab in New York. If successful, a drug may soon be available that will help people pin-point and delete traumatic memories such as memories of rape or war. Do you think this is a good idea? What if people use this technology to forget about crimes they've committed such as rape, paedophilia, murder?
The members of the Order of Mnemosyne each has a magical motto that captures their philosophy of life. What would be your own? (It doesn't have to be in Latin!)
Common wisdom — bolstered by crime shows on TV — holds that witnesses who contradict themselves and whose memories appear faulty under cross-examination are lying. However, studies have shown that it is more often witnesses who seem completely confident whose testimonies turn out to be flawed. What is your own experience? Do you tend to believe people who are sure of themselves? Do you doubt those who appear hesitant?
Who would you have chosen as a life partner: Jack? Or Jungles?
Did you find the characters in DARK PRAYER believable? Who was your favourite character?
What did you think about the ending of the book. Is it a happy ending? An unsatisfactory ending? The right ending?
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Keeper of Light and Dust