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The VVA Veteran Reviews Prelude

Prelude was recently reviewed by David Wilson, a reviewer from the site “Books in Review II.” Wilson's review eloquently chronicles his reaction to the novel alongside his own experience in Vietnam. "I highly recommend this novel, both as a good read and as a glimpse into the lives of...

SD Sawyer

Reading Groups

Three friends met for lunch at Paneras after holiday shopping.  One started telling about an amazing book she was reading. The discussion lead to another book by the same author. Before coffee refills, a book club was born.  Reading groups are springing up everywhere!  Bookstores host them, as do neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Book selections are unique and varied–  classic literature, ancient literature (a real challenge!), current best sellers, a specific time period, even “hostess choice.”

I’ve been invited to hostess choice, the 1960′s, life of the Vietnam Waiting Wife, and soon–  How I wrote a novel.   I enjoy attending in person, but some authors I know skype so they can join in!  FYI–  If your club selects Prelude, I usually bring along a tray of my famous brownies and–  free bookmarks!  Below are suggested questions to ease the host’s assignment.

Reading Group Questions

1.  What is the main theme of this novel, the author’s purpose in writing it?  Discuss the connection between the title and the theme.

2.  Who was your favorite character?  Why?  Did the character change or evolve throughout the novel?

3. How does the setting relate to the characters? Were you able to feel transported back to the 1960′s?  Does setting come to life enough to become a character?

4. In the novel, how does the impact of the war effect the young men facing the draft, the soldiers, and the families?

5.  In the Preface and Afterwards, the author compares the public reaction to soldiers returning home after World War II, then Vietnam, and Iraq. Is there a danger that the history of turning against our soldiers could repeat itself? Why, or why not?

6.  Why did it take years for civilians to wake up and stop blaming soldiers for a war they didn’t start and many had no desire to fight? What started this awakening?

7.  The title is the novel’s dominant metaphor. At what point in the novel does the prelude, or start of an awakening, begin for Meg? Tom? the chaplain? To what does each awaken?

8.  Which are greater, the external or internal conflicts Tom faces? Which were greater for Meg? Does either character emerge more effective than the other in attempting to resolve conflicts? What might account for this?

9.  How much of a person’s character is determined by the time period in which they live?

10.  Discuss “recurring motifs,”  such as images of light, dark, and shadows throughout the novel. What are their significance? The author frequently relies on nature imagery. Cite examples that show the impact of nature upon the characters.

11.  Why could this be called a novel of self-discovery?

12.  What caused the chaplain’s transformation in the end?

13.  Did you foresee the novel’s ending? What questions remain unresolved?

14. What did you find surprising about the facts introduced in the novel?

15.  This novel was written about events that happened over 40 years ago. Had it been written only five or ten years after the Vietnam War ended, how might it have been different?

16.  Consider Will Rogers’ statement, “…in every war, they kill you in a new way.” New York Times, Dec. 23, 1929. Who are “they,” and how were Vietnam veterans killed “in a new way?”

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