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Suggested Book Group Questions for Seal Woman
- Does Seal Woman contain “magical realism”?
- Are elements of magical realism distinguishable from events that occur in the imagination of the characters?
- What does the story reveal about the healing power of art? Of nature? Of story?
- How does Charlotte’s fate related to that of the seal woman in the folk tale?
- What is the role of silence? Of talking?
- Does the story feel like historical fiction in that the character’s life is shaped by historical events?
- How does Charlotte change in the course of the novel?
- What does Charlotte learn about art from Max? What does she lean on her own?
- How does she apply art to her own struggle for survival?
- How important is Charlotte’s relationship to the Old Woman?
- Psychologically speaking, what role does Charlotte’s son Henrik play in her life?
- Are there differences in the writing style between the sections that depict Iceland and those that depict Germany? If so, why?
Suggested Book Group Questions for Sigga of Reykjavik
- What role does Sigga’s anger play in the story?
- How does Sigga’s childhood and her relationship to her mother relate to the choices she makes in Reykjavik?
- How would you describe the impact of her stay with Diva on Sigga’s development?
- How do Sigga’s conflicting goals cause her trouble?
- In what manner do Sigga’s choices regarding family and work relate to her goals?
- Describe the irony of Sigga’s plan to achieve her own independence through sewing corsets.
- How does Sigga’s choice of husband relate to her early relationship to men?
- Why does the allied occupation of Iceland in World War II pose a moral dilemma for Sigga?
- What aspect of Sigga’s nature causes her to be attracted to the refugee Fritz?
- How is Sigga’s childhood quest for her father different from her adult quest?
- How do the two father quests differ, Sigga’s and Tosca’s?
- What role does Sigga’s mother-in-law, Bergthora, play in Sigga’s search for family? What role does her stepson, Magnus, play in that search?
- How has Sigga’s concept of family changed by the end of the story?