Elsewhere – Discussion Questions

These questions are free for use in your personal book groups but, but please direct group members to this page rather than disributing the questions.
  1. What does “the affliction” represent to you in this story, and to what can you relate it in your life?
  2. “You could have stayed until you were air.” This is a statement made by Iris in a conversation imagined by Vera.  This imagined statement is never actually spoken by Iris. What does her conjuring of this statement reveal about Vera’s reasons for leaving? For private reflection: who in your life would you have said this to? Who would have said it to you?
  3. Discuss the townswomen’s practice of pricking their mates with a silver hairpin, which they always have in their hair, during sex, and then sucking their blood from the wound. Does this practice exist in isolation, or does it impact other aspects of the story?
  4. Invent a history for the people of the town. How did they get there, why do they stay, and why the taboo against leaving and against newcomers?
  5. We often keep reading a book because we are intrigued by an unknown motivation, reason, or outcome, and want the unknown to become known.  What were the unknowns in Elsewhere, and what remained unknown?
  6. What does the word (and title) “Elsewhere” represent?
  7. If your group is inclined to do so, continue your discussion by exploring the themes introduced in the book and their relevance to women – mothers, daughters, expectations, worth. 
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