You are invited to the Penguin Random House Sixth Annual Author Event for NYC Educators. Please RSVP soon as space for this event fills up quickly.
Held at the Random House building in midtown Manhattan on Monday, October 13th from 1-4pm, this free event will feature ten authors who will each discuss and sign free copies of their book.
The featured authors are: Dana Goldstein (The Teacher Wars), Mark Chiusano (Marine Park), E. Lockhart (We Were Liars), Meg Wolitzer (Belzhar), Leigh Fondakowski (The Laramie Project), Ken Ludwig (How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare), Michael Sokolove (Drama High), Jordan Ellenberg (How Not to Be Wrong), “Science Bob” Pflugfelder (Nick and Tesla’sSuper-Cyborg Gadget Glove), and Benedict Carey (How We Learn).
Questions? Email email@example.com.
In her beloved bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the strong bonds between women, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in the New York Times bestselling book CHINA DOLLS, which is about Asian-American nightclub performers of the 1930s and 1940s, she returns to these timeless themes. The San Francisco Chronicle praised the novel, stating,“China Dolls plunges us into a fascinating history and offers an accessible meditation on themes that are still urgent in our contemporary world. The women’s story explores burning questions about the possibilities of friendship, the profound effects of betrayal, the horrors of prejudice and the nature of ambition—especially female ambition. . . . These Asian artists were true pioneers, breaking ground, chasing vast dreams, subverting stereotypes simply by appearing onstage against the odds. Here, in CHINA DOLLS, they have found another stage of sorts, another place to rightfully shine.” The Washington Post said,“This emotional, informative and brilliant page-turner resonates with resilience and humanity,” while O Magazine called CHINA DOLLS “a spellbinding portrait of a time burning with opportunity and mystery.”
Lisa’s novels make excellent book club discussions, and now you can request Lisa to join your club meeting with a live chat!
Just fill out the form below with your request. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Have you read the book everyone is raving about?
An enchanting storyteller, Chan is one of those rare authors who make you feel more fully alive.”
—Elizabeth Letts, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion
Like Elizabeth Letts, you’ll be drawn into Chan’s Mill River series. Dip in with your book club, and enjoy these discussion questions from Random House Reader’s Circle!
1. In the beginning of The Mill River Redemption, Josie DiSanti is traumatized and frightened. Over the course of the story, however, she becomes strong, self-sufficient, and confident. What do you feel is the single biggest factor in her transformation?
2. As a single parent, Josie tries to be everything to and provide everything for her daughters Rose and Emily. Given her situation, what do you feel were her greatest successes and failures as a parent? What might she have done differently?
3. Josie has to deal with an unpleasant boss in her first job as a single parent. Have you encountered a “Ned Circle”—i.e., someone who intentionally tried to make things difficult for you—in your own life or career? If so, how did you handle the situation?
4. As young adults, Rose and Emily DiSanti experience a terrible tragedy and become estranged, and Josie spends many years trying to help them reconcile. If you were in Emily’s position, could you forgive Rose for what she did? If you were in Rose’s position, could you ask Emily for forgiveness?
5. In your experience, is trying to forgive someone easier or more difficult if you love the person seeking the forgiveness?
6. Daisy Delaine repeatedly seeks to apologize to Rose for her perceived transgression at Josie’s wake. Do you think Rose’s response to Daisy is an expression of personal animosity or a result of the influence of alcohol?
7. How does Rose evolve from the moment she arrives in Mill River for the summer to the end of the story? Did your feelings toward her change over the course of the book?
8. Emily returns to Mill River to honor her mother’s wishes and also to confront her own past. Despite all that has happened, do you think she still loves her sister? Does she change as a person as events unfold? At the end of the story, do you believe she will really be able to forgive Rose for what she did?
9. Claudia Simon struggles with feelings of insecurity, even though Kyle gives her no reason to doubt his feelings until she sees him coming out of Emily’s house. If you had been in Claudia’s position, what would you have done at that point?
10. Ivy’s little bookstore is a labor of love and her life’s work. How does it reflect her personality?
11. Josie is desperate to see her girls’ estrangement end. Does she go too far in her efforts to force their reconciliation? Do you think that what she does is worth it in the end? What would you have done had you been in her position?
12. As a “recovering spoon addict,” Father O’Brien manages to keep his compulsion under control in this novel. Do you think that he will continue to refrain from stealing spoons, or do you think he will eventually relapse? Does his grief over Mary McAllister’s death have anything to do with his newfound self-control?
13. Sheldon sees Rose at an experimental theater performance and is taken with her immediately. Do you believe in love at first sight? If so, is it the kind of love that can withstand the challenges inherent in most marriages?
14. Near the end of the book, Josie refers to Father O’Brien as “a priceless antique that’s still functional.” Is there, or has there been, an elderly person in your life who fits that description? Who is or was it, and what made the person so special to you?
The book club giveaway of your dreams is here! Enter for your chance to win a book club bundle from your friends here at Random House Reader’s Circle!
Featured titles include:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
We’re recommending Susan Vreeland’s Lisette’s List, so if you or your book club choose it for a fall selection then be sure to enjoy these book club discussion questions!
1. Why did the novel need to begin with Pascal? How was he an important presence throughout the novel and an influence in Lisette’s deepening character?
2. What were the qualities that Lisette appreciated about André? About Maxime? Did this difference affect her love for both of them? How?
3. As Lisette was becoming more comfortable in Roussillon, what did she find in it that she liked, or even loved? As a reader, did you want her to make this adjustment, or were you holding out for a complete and speedy return to Paris? If she had moved back to Paris right after the end of the war, what would she have lost in addition to the paintings?
4. What made Lisette so conflicted about Bernard? What allowed her even to speak to him? Every gift he gave her had consequences. Should she have rejected and destroyed each one like she did the stockings? Were all the gifts similarly motivated and did they reveal the same qualities in Bernard? Was he wholly a bad man?
5. What constraints made finding the paintings take so long? How did Lisette’s changing emotional state contribute to the delay?
6. Was Héloïse a collaborator? Should she have been punished? Should Bernard have been punished? Should he have been removed from his post? In your mind, did his motives in siding with the Occupiers justify his stance? At one point in the revelation scene between Bernard and Lisette, she said, “I could charge you not just as a thief, but as a collaborator.” Why didn’t she? Do you respond differently to Bernard and to Héloïse?
7. With Maxime’s experience in the art world, he spoke at length in Chapter Twenty-three about what makes a painting great. Is there any criterion that he overlooked? Select a painting you love by any painter and apply Maxime’s criteria to it. What insightful observation about life or the world or yourself does the painting offer you?
8. How did the peripheral characters—Maurice, Sister Marie Pierre, Héloïse, Louise, Odette, Madame Bonnelly, Aimé Bonhomme—complement each other in influencing Lisette?
9. Consider the theme of articulation and communication. How did the scenes with Maxime and Lisette in the bories introduce this theme? What characters have a problem with communication? Under what circumstances do actions speak louder than words?
10. The letter by Marc Chagall to the artists of Paris is historically accurate except for mentioning the cause of Bella’s death. What effect did this letter have on Lisette, not just in terms of her emotional reaction but her subsequent thinking and actions? What did it enlarge for her? What did it make you realize about the possible loss of France’s art legacy? What would the effect of that loss be on France and French people? On the world?
11. In what way does Lisette’s List of Hungers and Vows differ from the popularized “bucket list” of contemporary usage? What was its purpose for her? Should she have added any hunger or vow that actually motivated her and that was missing? Why wasn’t “Participate in the art world in Paris” on her list? If you were to write such a list for yourself, what items might your list include?
12. In Chapter Sixteen, Lisette considers that it might be a higher art to invent a painting by assembling elements from one’s heart like Chagall did rather than painting only what one actually sees. She imagines such a painting of her own. What elements of her own life are reflected in her painting? What elements in your life might be reflected in such a painting if you were to paint your own Chagall?
13. What did you learn about art and its potential effect? About the region? About the Provençal character? About the war? Any war? Did any of these elements change your thinking?
Happy Reading! And be sure to stay in touch with Susan on her Facebook page!