The Bride of Catastrophe

The Bride of Catastrophe

by Heidi Jon Schmidt

Paperback(First Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312423421
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 07/01/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Heidi Jon Schmidt is the author of the acclaimed story collections The Rose Thieves and Darling? both available from Picador. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide Questions
1. Beatrice introduces herself by saying that she grew up on a farm and that she, "like all things stamped 'natural,' must be essentially good" (p 1). How does this conflict between what is "natural"
and what is inauthentic continue throughout the novel? Does Beatrice's' conception of "natural"
alter as she matures?
2. What role does Philippa play in both the story and structure of the novel? In what ways does her attitudes seem to anticipate and/or mirror Beatrice's? Do you view Philippa as a positive or negative influence on Beatrice? Both? Explain.
3. Throughout the novel, Beatrice refers to literary figures such as Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens,
George Elliot, among others. If you are familiar with any of the writers' work she mentions, do you sense their influence in Schmidt's own storytelling? In what ways might The Bride of Catastrophe
be considered an old fashioned novel? In what ways is it distinctly contemporary?
4. In some respects, The Bride of Catastrophe is about role models and their ability to inspire or disappoint. Who are Beatrice's role models? Do they succeed or fail? For which characters might
Beatrice be a role model?
5. In what ways does the novel challenge conventional notions of sexuality and gender identity?
Ultimately, what do you think is Beatrice's sexuality identity? How do you think Beatrice would define it?
6. Home is a major theme in the novel. How do Beatrice's memories of home often conflict with reality? Do you think idealized memories of childhood are common for most people? Do you think we ever remember our childhoods as they actually were?
7. At first, Beatrice equates being a lesbian with being transgressive. Do you think that her relationship with Lee is transgressive? Explain. In what ways might her relationship with Stetson be more transgressive or risky?
8. At one point, Sylvie says, "I think men want sex so much because they have to let their tenderness loose that way, before it, kinda, drowns them" (p 305). Why do you think she says this? Do you agree with her? Could this statement also apply to women? Explain.
9. On page 359, Beatrice thinks, "We lived in a world where growing up meant giving up -
abandoning your own aspirations, laughing a little at all those silly hopes and dreams,
mummifying yourself in layers of fat, or television, or golf. No wonder everyone was obsessed with youth!" What is Beatrice beginning to realize about herself and her relationship with Lee?
What does that statement reveal about how Beatrice views "growing up"?
10. By the novel's end, do you think Beatrice makes a definite decision about the direction of her life?

If you had to guess, where do you see her a year later?

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