Feel free to use these questions in your book discussion group. Rather than distributing to your members, please direct them to this page, and if you use the questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m curious to know how you used them!
- Fire can represent many things: danger, heat, cleansing, spirit, warmth, beauty. It can rage out of control or its warmth can serve us – and possibly even protect us. What qualities do you think fire represents in various parts of this story? Do any of the characters who don’t catch fire exhibit some of the same qualities as fire, and if so, who?
- Lillian has dealt with poverty, hope, and crushing disappointment – and yet, she never sought revenge against those who decided the course of Lillian’s life out of self-interest. What motivated her to refrain from striking back at those who used her as a pawn? Do you consider it a weakness or a strength that Lillian refrained from retaliation? (Or did she refrain? Can you think of any actions Lillian took that could be viewed as striking out against another or against her situation?)
- Besides the whole catching-fire thing, what set Bessie and Roland apart from the other people in Lillian’s life?
- The children were hidden away from the public eye to avoid a spectacle. What other human traits or conditions have we had to hide – in ourselves? In our loved ones? Has that changed over time?
- What was your immediate reaction when Timothy caught on fire? Did you see it coming?
- Imagine this story being written by one or more of the following authors. How would it be different? If you want, write a paragraph about Roland or Bessie catching fire as it might appear by one or more of these listed authors (some are more of a stretch than others):
- Stephen King
- Liane Moriarty
- Shirley Jackson
- Jodi Picoult
- David Sedaris
- Charlotte Bronte
- Dan Brown
- Janet Evanovich
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