Friday, August 19, 2011

The Sandalwood Tree - Discussion 3

This third chunk really flew by for me and I actually had to stop myself so I wouldn't go ahead until after I had time to write this out. ;)

"Maybe we'd both be happier if I could just accept the change in him."

As soon as I read this, I was like noooo Evie just say no.  Sure, accept that he has changed but if that change is going to make you both freaking miserable that DOES not make things get better.

I found the whole having James Walker over for dinner and his and Martin's exchange to be quite interesting.  I also thought it was hysterical that Evie tried to make him an English meal and he complimented her on the Indian part! And jumping around like a crazy lady, I think what we learned about Martin's time at the end of the war was fascinating.   I also find it weird that one of Evie's first thoughts wasn't, 'Um husband of mine did you find Elsa attractive? Is why this is such a problem? Did you have feelings for her?" Because yes, what they did to the German's was horrible and wrong I can see where things got heated and things went bad but also, he kind of seemed like he had a thing for her, beyond just seeing the horrible things his fellow soldiers did that day.

And when little Billy went missing, did anyone else have a hard time stomaching the slave market part? Or just envisioning what happens to poor (seriously poor) kids in other countries every day? It turns my stomach and makes me want to puke and seriously, how can ANYONE think doing something of a sexual nature with a child that young is first, appropriate, second, enjoyable, third WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?? GROSS GROSS GROSS. BLECH.

In the Adela/Felicity aspect of things, is anyone else thinking that Adela takes Felicity's identity and the body buried under Adela's name is really Felicity? Or is it just me? And what about that little twist about the landlord being Singh? I can't believe Evie didn't make the connection yet, unless of course she hasn't read that journal entry yet and it was just shared with us readers.

So a few discussion questions, 2-5 taken from the book's facebook page

1. Do you think the leprechaun was a good idea or a bad idea? How do you see this ending for poor Billy?

2. The love affairs in the novel were all scandalous for their time: the interracial relationship between Jonathan Singh and Felicity, Adela’s lesbianism, Martin and Evie’s inter-faith marriage. What does it say about the characters that they were all able to defy expectations and conventions? Did you find their decisions shocking?

3. Evie says, “In 1945 they called it combat fatigue, but in World War One they had called it shell shock, which is more accurate. After Vietnam they started calling it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Stress? Please. The names for this mental illness became more sanitized with every war.” Martin is carrying serious scars from his time in the war, and as a result closes Evie out and starts taking dangerous risks in his work. Do you think a person ever completely heals from seeing the atrocities of war? Do you think enough is done to care for veterans when they return?

4. Harry quotes Gandhi as saying, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” What do you think of this statement?

5. One of the major themes of The Sandalwood Tree is the resilience of the Indian people. When Evie first arrives in India, she says “I wanted to… ferret out the mystery of [India’s] people. I wanted to know how India managed to hang on to her identity in spite of multitudes of foreign conquerors slogging through with new gods and new rules.” What did you think of this ability to “bend without breaking.” Do you think it’s universal to human nature? Unique to the Indian people? Something developed over time out of necessity?

Come back next week to finish discussing the last of the book! Also, don't forget to vote in the side bar for next month's read!

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