On this page I’ve added the promo trailer I made for the book, and, below that, some discussion questions for book clubs.

By the Rivers of Brooklyn trailer:

By the Rivers of Brooklyn

15 Discussion Questions

1. What did you think of the title? Did you think it fit well with the book?

2. Near the end of the novel, Anne Parsons says, “Everyone in my family has this obsession with home.”  What does the idea of “home” mean to different members of the Evans family? Why is it so powerful?

3. Are the experiences of the Evans family over three generations similar to those of Newfoundland families you know who moved away to find work? In what ways? How are they different?

4. What do you think about Ethel’s choice to sleep with, and eventually marry, Jim after Bert’s death? Ethel calls it her first real big sin – do you agree? What other options are open to her?

5. Of the three older women whose stories we follow throughout this novel – Rose, Ethel, and Annie – which one did you find most interesting? Why?

6. Author Trudy Morgan-Cole has been quoted on the subject of “theme” in novels saying, “I only know one theme, and that’s grace.”  How is the concept of “grace” relevant to this story? To each of the characters’ lives?

7. In what way do the life stories of second-generation women Claire, Diane, and Valerie reflect the changes in women’s roles since their mothers’ generation?

8. After leaving Newfoundland in 1924, Ethel makes two journeys home: one in 1932 and one in 1984.  How does each one affect her idea of what “home” means?

9. Several characters in the novel identify their concept of home as being centred in Annie’s kitchen.  How does Annie serve as an anchor for other members of the family? Do you think she is happy in this role?

10. Annie initially resists getting involved with Bill because she believes he has always been in love with Rose. Do you think this changes over the years? How and why?

11. Do Ethel and Jim ever have a chance at a happy marriage? At what point, if any, do you think their relationship could have improved? What would it have taken to make that change?

12. Claire emerges into adulthood as a woman who strongly values order and reason, and distrusts emotion.  What experiences and influences shaped her this way?

13. As Ethel’s daughter Diane becomes a young woman, Ethel reflects on how Diane reminds her of Rose.  In what ways is Diane similar to her Aunt Rose? In what ways is she different?

14. At the beginning of the novel, Anne searches for an old box of family papers and artifacts that will answer all her questions.  How does the book’s epilogue tie back into Anne’s quest in the prologue? What do you think it suggests about family stories and family secrets?

15. Did you find the ending satisfying? Why or why not?


5 responses to “More

  1. Deanna Murphy

    Hello Judy,

    My name is Deanna. We have a neighborhood book club that has been meeting for a number of years. I was recently at the public library and with the librarians help we selected your book for this month. I realize this is short notice but on behalf of the ladies we were wondering if you would be available to come to our meeting on the 25th May 2010 at 8:00 pm. If there is another time that is more suitable let me know that too.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. That should be fine, Deanna! I’ll send you an email …

  3. Kathy Adey

    Hi Judy,

    Like Deanna above, I too am a member of a book club. I chose your book as this month’s selection. We have our book club meeting tomorrow evening (Thursday, June 10th) and I am looking forward to having some great discussions about your book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book as I know many of my book club friends have as well.

    I noticed Deanna asked you to attend their book club meeting – is this something you are able to do for us or is the timing too close ? If another date is more suitable for you, I will check with our members to see if we can come up with another date to have our meeting.

    In any case, I just want you to know I loved your book and can’t wait to discuss it with our book club members.

    If you are able to join us for our book club meeting, let me know.

    Kathy Adey
    Mount Pearl

  4. Kathy, I would love to but it is too short notice … I have another event this Thursday evening. I love visiting book clubs though, so if you had another date, I would come!!

  5. Vera Blackmore

    We are doing By the Rivers of Brooklyn tomorrow November 30 2011 at our meeting in Grand Falls-Windsor.I noticed that Trudy has visited bookclubs on the east coast. Is there any chance Trudy could visit Grand Falls -Windsor in the Spring or Fall of 2012?I would love to discuss the possibility as we have at least three book clubs in town ,if not more. We could do a combined meeting and reading of the new book.

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