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A spectacularly taut drama about a rural American family, by the author of The Book of Ruth. Set in the ...
A spectacularly taut drama about a rural American family, by the author of The Book of Ruth. Set in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, here is an achingly accurate rendering of how one event--the drowning of a child--can change forever the lives of everyone involved.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
1. In the opening pages of the novel, Alice says about her situation, "Now, in my more charitable moods, I wonder if our hardworking community members punished us for something as intangible as whimsy. We would not have felt eccentric in a northern city, but in Prairie Center we were perhaps outside the bounds of the collective imagination." (p. 4) How does the idea of alienation figure into the novel? Why do Dan and Theresa belong to Prairie Center? Does Howard belong? Feeling that she doesn't belong, could Alice have done anything to make herself less vulnerable to public censure?
2. Compare the different ways the characters grieve: Are there parallels in the husbandwife relationships within the couples--Alice and Howard, Theresa and Dan--and how each spouse expresses, or fails to express, his or her own grief? Do the characters' respective genders play a role in the way they deal with grief? What role does grief play in Howard's relationship with Theresa?
3. What is the function of Howard's narration? Does his perspective change your feelings about Alice and what happens to her? Is it clear why he doubts her?
4. Does Alice's sense of her own inadequacy contribute to how she is viewed by the people of Prairie Center? Does it contribute to Howard's feelings towards her?
5. At the outset of the novel, Alice says, "I had always suspected that Howard was able to slip into a phone booth, shed his rubber overalls right down to a blue body suit, and then take off into the sky, scooping up the children with one strong arm.... He has always been capable." (p. 9) What are some of Howard and Alice's respective strengths and weaknesses? Is eitherone stronger than the other in any way?
6. At the point of the novel when Alice is arrested, she is still completely overwhelmed and incapacitated by Lizzy's death and her role in it. How do the accusations against Alice and her time in prison change her and help her to deal with what happened to Lizzy?
7. What is revealed about Alice through her interaction with other prisoners? Does her sense of belonging shift while in prison? What new perspectives does she gain?
8. While in the jail hospital, Alice reflects on her marriage, "Lying in the hospital bed I thought to myself that my passion for Howard had soon been replaced by something that was stronger than respect, or habit, or maybe even need.... "I wasn't certain the group of feelings wouldn't cancel each other out, if any of them could possibly be powerful enough to carry me along by his side, shoulder to shoulder." (p. 298) What binds Alice and Howard? Do the events of the novel change the essence of those ties?
Posted July 31, 2011
This book was horrible. The main character seems braindead and annoying throughout. Reminds me of one of those people who would be texting and tailgating all the while putting on lipstick...as if they are looking for something bad to happen. I could barely make it through this one because I found the main character to be so annoying on top of a lame duck storyline.
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Posted July 12, 2014
Posted March 7, 2014
Characters quite nuanced, giving it lots of potential for discussion and reconsideration..some reviewers say that this is a depressing read but i think this is only so at a reading of the events and not of the character development. The change of pov is also thought provoking. I will definitely pursue more of jane hamilton.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2014
Posted September 22, 2013
Great Start that Sputters at the end
I would have liked to give this book 3-1/2 stars, but that's not an option. This is a good story that grabs you from the start and moves you along, but about three quarters of the way in, it seems the book begins to drag, and continues to do so until its inevitable conclusion. No great revelations or twists at the end. It left me a little disapponted. I also couldn't help but think that had these horrible events not happened to this couple, they would have lost their farm anyway. Two people with small childen tryng to operate a 400 acre farm isn't going to work. The first accident or $100,000 ruptured appendix hospital bill and it's all over. No health insurance in this day equals guaranteed disaster. Ah, but I digress.....I just have a hard time separating fiction from reality.
Posted August 15, 2011
Posted February 23, 2011
Posted November 16, 2009
I was thrilled after the first pages, but to be honest (I am not yet
half through the book) it is so gloomy and depressing, that I lost the
interest to read further. I force myself to read further really to know how the outcome will be, but if I f. e. lost this book in the subway I wouldn't buy another one, I would rather forget about it.
Posted June 1, 2009
This was an awesome read. I saw that it was made into a movie with Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore, but I never tried to watch it. You could never capture the emotions of the characters and the story to do this book justice. If you liked "The Deep End of the Ocean", you will like this as well.
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Posted September 21, 2008
Loved the first few chapters but i think sticking w/ the plot of grief after the incident w/ Lizzy would have been a better choice. After that, it was like suddenly i was reading a different book. The prose got bogged down quickly, making the story seem improbable, i mean, who talks like that?!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2006
I couldn't put this book down. Read it over a the course of a relaxing vacation. Jane Hamilton has the ability to draw you into the life of a woman who is struggling with what life tends to throw at a person. She does it with grace and conviction. I recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy reading words that paint vivid pictures of the life of an individual who thrives despite obstacles.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 17, 2005
Posted March 21, 2004
the beginning really hooked me to the book, but after I was at the end of the book it became less, interesting. but most of all i would say that the whole book is really good, and i would recommend to anyone.(adult)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2003
stunning cast of characters that go through struggle after stuggle. Gaining little ground in the way of recovery. Gripping story line that makes each turning of a page something to look forward to. I would recommend this book to anyone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2003
This was the first Oprah's Book Club novel that I've read, and the book did not exactly live up to my expectations. The writer uses an abstract, almost poetic style of prose throughout the book which may seem charming at first but quickly becomes mundane. Perhaps the effort taken to describe the setting should have been transferred to the characters who were stoic and without much appeal. I am not dismissing this book outright, however. All the necessary elements are there and the reader does feel some emotion from the story. A Map of the World is not a bad work, it's just not a spellbinding one. As for the message this book is trying to convey, I'd say it's open to interpretation- I'm mystyfied on that one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2003
I enjoyed this book very much. I read it for the first time when I was 18. I think it is a real story... it shows life how it really is sometimes. It shows the importance of family, friendship and love, and how it can all change in a moments time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2002
I personally liked this book up until midway through it. The beginning came out strong but then with the whole sexual abuse thing and Alice being in the hospital, I started to loose intrest and it felt like the meaning of the book was fading. Reading the book made you feel like you were being built up to something in the last chapter and then when you got there, the story just dropped. It almost seemed like the author didn't finish the book out....The beginning was so strong and had so much detail and then the ending was just blah.......although I did love Howards view point! It was easy to read and was short and to the point. I also loved the description of the setting around the family and all the characters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2001
Posted June 4, 2001
Maybe my expectations were too high. Currently I am reading this book, but I am having a hard time finishing it. The plot seems to drag and I don't feel like I can relate to the characters very well. I heard this was a wonderful book and I have to say that I am a bit disappointed. I would not recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 31, 2001
I've had bad experiences with Oprah book club books before, so I was cautious when I began this one. Rightfully so, I suppose, because this book was so poorly written and failed to hold my attention past the first third of it. I think it is a book that perhaps middle aged women could relate to (hence it belonging to Oprah's book club), but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. It was bland and unsaturated and it didn't have any of the components a good novel should have, including theme, plot and intriguing characters. Considering how one-dimensional these characters are, it would be thought that a less-bland storyline would bring added depth to the novel, but it had the opposite effect. It resulted in boring characters in a more boring situation. It got me asking the question, 'Who cares?' throughout the entire thing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.