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  1. Welcome to the May 2014 Reading Circle The focus this month is on novels about the personal aftermaths of The Great War: i.e. how World War One affected lives beyond the fighting. Unusually, three novels are included this month. All those participating are asked to read A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot. Optional others that are included in the discussion questions for comparison are: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West, and A Month in the Country by JL Carr. It is assumed that you have either read the book(s) before reading posts in this thread or are prepared to accept spoilers for those you might not have read, as the discussion might give away crucial points, and the continuous use of spoiler tags would be likely to hinder fluent reading of posts. Questions Please don't feel you have to answer all the questions, or every part of every question, especially bearing in mind that we will have all read different combinations of books, from just one to all three! 1. In summary, what did you think of the book(s)? 2. Had you read any of the authors before? Would you want to read any of them again? 3. Did you have expectations about any of the books beforehand? How did they match up? 4. Different locations (France, London, North Yorkshire), different styles (mystery, humour/elegiac idyll, social drama), very different books. Which, if any, did you prefer (can you rank them)? Why? 5. Japrisot's is a view of WW1 from a French point of view. Did it provide you with a different or fresh perspective on the war compared to what you already knew? How about the other two books? 6. Did the characterisation in the Japrisot novel work for you? Any favourite characters? Any in either of the other two books? 7. All three books feature soldiers damaged by the war, and the effect that has on the people they love, know and meet. What, if anything, did each have to say that was different from the others? 8. Mathilde is confined to a wheelchair. Was this important? Does it have any real effect on the story, or on your perception of it or her? 9. Tina Lombardi reacted very differently to Mathilde to the same event. Did this contrast play any useful part in the story? 10. Did the conclusion surprise you? What did you think of it? 11. The conclusions in the other two books are equally important. What did you think of them? Any other comments or thoughts?
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