Faith Hogan explains that book clubs provide an outlet for authors too.
The growth in book clubs over the last decade has been one of the most phenomenal organic developments to occur in terms of spreading the word and love of reading in our society. Book clubs have sprung up everywhere from the local library, to online platforms like Facebook and more intimately, in kitchens and sitting rooms over nibbles and drinks.
People like to read and like to share their thoughts about what it is they’ve read. Book clubs have become the new after-dinner society in an age when it is likely we could just as easily slip into an insular, all consuming, isolated existence. Book clubs are as much about connecting with each other as reading stories that we love. They are about reading what we’ve agreed and thinking about what the writer has put before us, through the characters, their choices and very often their core principles in dealing with the crisis the writer throws at them.
One of my greatest pleasures has been in talking to book clubs, sometimes that involves sitting with the book club (it’s an awfully tough job, they make you eat cake and talk books all night, but someone’s got to do it – good thing I love both 😉 Very often, I talk with people over social media, book clubs reach out across Facebook mainly, but over Twitter also and there will be a mad flurry of messages in answer to the various questions that arise after reading My Husband’s Wives.
After these discussions, I’ve usually made a small note of the questions that have come up for people and I will list these here, so if you are thinking of including My Husband’s Wives as your book club read you’ll have a few things to ponder…
- What did you like best and least about My Husband’s Wives?
- What other books did this remind you of?
- Who was your favourite character in the book? Was there a wife you liked least?
- Did Paul Starr love one woman above all the others and if so – which one do you think and why?
- Each of the women dealt with their grief differently and although there was anger, sadness and regret, none of them actually hated Paul – why was that?
- This book is set in Ireland, but which is the bigger character – Dublin or Carlinville? Why and what does that add to the story?
- Kasia appears to be wiser and more philosophical than each of the other women, why do you think that is?
- Who grows and changes most over the course of the novel? Who gains the most?
- This is a novel about love, but is it a love story?
- If Paul had lived, would he have moved on again? Or does his relationship with Kasia signal a turning point in terms of his maturity, facing up to his responsibilities and where he has reached in his life?
- Evie has always believed they were soul mates. The big question is, was Paul slowly making his way back to Carlinville in the end?
I believe the answer to each of these questions, on the wives side at least, is kindness. When I was writing this book, I took the standpoint that the book answered the question What If… The women’s reactions, invariably sat within a continuum of development. This of course, runs along a road of grief, but also, takes in the notion that ultimately, we are all the same.
We all love and want to be loved in return. In each of us is the inherent ability to empathize. If we allow ourselves, our natural default is towards kindness when we see the suffering of another, regardless of what we might have believed we felt for them in the past. Modern culture, fostered by the soap operas many of us have grown up with, has imbedded the notion that we hold grudges forever, that we never quite move on from past hurts. I think that most of us, as we mature, if we wish to become the people we can be, move on from this sitcom thinking.
Just as, those of us who ultimately join book clubs are probably no longer glued to soap operas, so too, we leave behind the half-baked ideas that carrying a hurt is more useful than holding out the hand of friendship and ultimately kindness to the person who needs it most.
In My Husband’s Wives, the women driven by misunderstanding, jealousy and hurt, journey past these emotions through grief and empathy to find, not just family and friends, but a new understanding of themselves and the generosity of kindness both given and received.
If you do choose My Husband’s Wives as your book club read – I really hope you enjoy it!
Is it better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved?
Paul Starr, Ireland’s leading cardiologist, has died in a car crash with a pregnant young woman by his side. A woman who is not his wife.
Evie, Grace and Annalise never thought they’d meet, but now they have to uncover the truth of their pasts. And suddenly they find themselves united by a man they never really knew at all.
As these women begin to form unlikely friendships they discover that Paul’s death could prove to be the catalyst they needed to become the people they always wanted to be…
Faith Hogan lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.