Peacetalk 101

Questions & Topics for Discussion

To suggest a new question, or to comment on the material below,

  1. What is your opinion of the extended parable format used for Peacetalk 101? Does it work? Would it have been better to write the book as a novel? As a self-help manual? Something else?

  2. How do you feel about the use of the Advent calendar in the book? Does it work for you? Why do you think the author chose it as a plot device? Is there something else she could have used for the same purpose that would have worked better? What advantages (if any) does the Advent calendar offer?

  3. Why do you suppose the author didn't write Peacetalk 101 as a "Christmas book"? Christmas books are always popular, even when they're not very good; they usually sell lots of copies as Christmas gifts. What reason(s) might the author have had for deciding against that course? Was she right or wrong, in your opinion?

  4. Which of Joe's stories (which are of course parables) did you like best? Why? Which one did you like least?

  5. Suppose you took the framework of the book, deleted the twelve stories Joe tells, and inserted twelve different stories in their place. What stories would you use? Or if you would only want to replace some of the stories, which ones would you get rid of and what would you use in their place?

  6. Is Henry a good man, or an evil one, or something in between? Why?

  7. What about Elizabeth ... how do you see her as a woman and wife and mother?

  8. Did you care about the characters in the book, as people? Do they seem like real people to you? Does it matter what they do and what happens to them? Can you identify any steps the author took to make you care about them? The author has said that making readers care about characters is the most difficult task a writer has; do you think that's right?

  9. Suppose you could ask just one question about one of the characters in the book: What would it be?

  10. How do you feel about the twelve Rules that go with the stories? The author has said that she means them absolutely seriously; does that make sense, in your opinion? Which of the Rules would be the hardest to follow? Which would be the easiest?

  11. If you could add another Rule to the set that's in the book, what would it be?

  12. Do you think that Peacetalk 101 would make a good stage play? A good musical comedy? Would it be hard to write songs for the musical?
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