Where the Ice Falls:
The stresses inside families can shatter the facade they keep up for the outer world. In this book, fractures develop over step-children, money, parenting, loss of family members, and spousal abuse.
- Lacey and Dee, both independent women, have shared student accommodations and now are sharing a house. Have you ever shared a house or apartment with someone you’re not related to? What were some drawbacks and benefits to that arrangement?
- Wintry settings underpin almost every scene in the book. Where are these most or least effective at enhancing the emotional tone of a scene? What other settings might be equally effective backdrops?
- Zoe’s first concern after Lizi finds the body in the woodshed is to protect and comfort her child; only later does she realize the impact the discovery is having on her. What’s harder to handle: when something traumatic happens to you – not necessarily on the scale of finding a dead body – or when it strikes someone you are responsible for i.e. a child, an elderly parent, a relative or dear friend?
- Do you think Zoe was seeing/hearing Eric’s ghost? Or was her mind playing tricks on her, drawing on information she had seen or heard from other sources without consciously remembering she knew?
- What happens for Dee emotionally between her first learning of her mother’s application for assisted dying and the end of the book? Do you think she wholeheartedly supports her mom’s decision? Why or why not? Do you think she will change her mind as the time for death approaches?
- Lacey, Dee, and Marcia have no children but all the other women have at least one. Does the presence or absence of children affect these woman’s relationships with men, or with other women? Socially and/or at work? Where in the book do these differing perspectives show up?
- Medical Assistance in Dying is a relatively new law available across Canada and, by other names, in nine US states. At present (in Canada) the dying person must be of sound mind right up to the moment of death in order to give consent. Should individuals be permitted to make advance directives to cover their consent if they are no longer of sound mind i.e. suffering from dementia or in a coma? Should next-of-kin be able to override the expressed wishes of the dying person, either to keep them alive or to consent to medically assisted death on their behalf?
- When is sex in marriage ‘rape’? Can it be rape if the coercion is psychological/emotional rather than physical? How do you think you would feel and react if a friend told you their spouse had forced them into sexual activity? (Help for victims of sexual violence in Canada)
When the Flood Falls Book Club
More complex than a simple whodunit, ‘Flood’ exposes troubled relationships within the small cast of characters: with themselves, with their surroundings, with each other, with the truth. Thematically and symbolically rooted in a wooded valley whose floor is a rising river, the novel takes on Canadian icons like the Rockies, hockey, and the RCMP.
- How are Lacey, Jan, & Dee similar? How are they different? Which did you identify most with? Which would you most like to be friends with?
- How do their relationships with each other change during the novel? Are all the changes positive or do you see some negatives?
- Do our main characters’ reactions to Camille, and vice versa, reflect real complexity of women’s attitudes? Do you know anyone who reminds you of Camille, and do you think they have a hidden history that has helped shape them?
- How do the relationships between the men - Terry, Rob, Jake, Mick, Jarrad, and Chris, and to a lesser extent the RCMP men, Tom and Bull - differ from those between the women? What differences and similarities do you see in their attitudes toward the women in their lives?
- Jan’s chronic illness is a constant factor in her activities and relationships. In what ways can you relate to her experiences: have you or someone you know been unable to participate fully in some aspects of daily life?
- How is disability viewed in our society? Is asking for help more or less acceptable than offering help? Which do you have more experience with?
- The RCMP and professional hockey are both Canadian icons. What do you think of how the characters involved with them – including Lacey’s past RCMP career – are portrayed?
- The setting is one of contrasts: flat plains and high mountain peaks, serene valley split by raging river, an angular modern building on a natural river bank, beautiful artworks surrounding an ugly murder. Which parts of the settings drew you in, and which disturbed you?
- It’s human nature to suspect people/characters we don’t like, to excuse those we do like, and to overlook those who seem pitiable. How were your suspicions led by your feelings about the various characters? Were you more suspicious of male characters than female? Rich versus poor? Healthy versus ill?
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