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Posts by S J Mitra

The Little Stranger, Part 4 and Wrap-up

Readers, thank you for joining this discussion of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. This week we discuss the significance of the title, the characters and the conclusion. Let's get started!Read More ›

The Little Stranger, Part 3

Welcome back! Thank you so much for reading the book with me and for posting your comments. I'm very glad that you are all enjoying the book! Thanks to the reader who brings up the supernatural element in The Little Stranger. We're ready to discuss this aspect of the novel, so let's get started.

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The Little Stranger, Part 2

Post-WWII Britain. Rural Warwickshire. Doctor Faraday is called to Hundreds Hall to treat Betty, the fourteen-year-old maid, for stomach cramps. He is horrified at the changes to the once grand estate and home of the Ayres family,  where his mother was once a nursery maid. He is also quick to spot Betty's nervousness and anxiety. The reader meets the characters who will play significant parts in the story as the setting and context are laid out.

What is the significance of Doctor's Faraday's memory of prising the plaster acorn? The conversation between ... Read More ›

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Happy 2014 and welcome to the first book discussion of the year! This month we read and discuss The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, who primarily writes Victorian and Suspense fiction. Her books are rich in period detail and painstakingly researched to bring alive an era that is complex and contradictory to say the least. From Tipping the Velvet, to

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Reader's Den: Wrap-up of "The Servants" by M.M. Smith

Thank you for participating in our online discussion of The Servants. You put forward some excellent insights and raised challenging points. I hope you enjoyed the book as much I did. I first read it years ago, re-read it last year, and — for the purposes of this discussion — read it again last month. On each reading, I found myself unwrapping another revelation or wondering about another mystery.

The essential metaphors become 

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Reader's Den: Week 3 of "The Servants" by M.M. Smith

This week I'd like to focus on the period details of The Servants. Mark has already journeyed into a bygone era of domestic workers who lived and worked in the basement of the homes of the wealthy. The smooth running of the house (and the lives of its owners) depended on their working in tandem. The life of the servants below stairs was strictly structured and hierarchical — the butler, the housekeeper, the cook, and the kitchen maids all observed the 

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Reader's Den: Week 2 of "The Servants"

By now we are well into The Servants by M.M. Smith. Our protagonist, Mark, is 11 years old and unhappy. Having just relocated to Brighton from London, he has no friends and spends the rainy, chilly days skateboarding by himself. Full of resentment against his new stepfather, David, and confused by his mother's illness, he meets an old lady who unlocks for him a bygone era in her basement flat in the 200-year-old house David owns.

From the 

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February Reader's Den: "The Servants" by M.M. Smith

Welcome to the Reader's Den selection for the month of February 2012: The Servants by M.M. Smith. Michael Marshall Smith is generally known for his sci-fi and mystery novels. The Servants — a subtle little ghost story and coming-of-age novel — is a departure from this genre.

Mark, a troubled pre-teen, has had to 

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Week 2: "A Pale View of Hills" by Ishiguro

Welcome back for week two of August 2010's Reader's Den. Here are some questions to think about as you begin reading.

What facts are gradually revealed about Keiko?

What impression do we have of Keiko and her relationship with the rest of her family?

How does Niki feel about Keiko?

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"A Pale View of Hills" by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Reader's Den selection for August 2010 is A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Born November 8, 1954, in Nagasaki, Japan, Ishiguro is one of Britain's leading contemporary writers. He received the Booker Prize for 

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Reader's Den

Thanks for sharing your comments and insights. I hope you enjoyed posting and reading this blog as much as I did. Can't wait for Hosseini's next book!

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Reader's Den: More Discussion Questions for "A Thousand Splendid Suns"

Rasheed symbolizes the oppression of women. At first his oppression seems benign but soon he is a danger to Mariam, Laila and Aziza. What might the three women symbolize?

What point is made by the description of the Bamiyan trip? What may the two Buddhas symbolize? (Consider the reality of what happened to the statues in 2001).

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."

What does this quotation from Saib-e-Tabrizi's poem tell us about the characters and / or situations in the book? 

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A Thousand Splendid Suns: Questions for Discussion

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts with a term of abuse thrown at one of the protagonists — Mariam — by her mother: "harami." The word means illegitimate and would be deeply hurtful to someone from a culture that prizes patriarchy. To be without her father's name and patronage is Mariam's curse. It shapes her character and her destiny. What is interesting is that despite Jalil Khan's rejection and Nana's warnings, Mariam worships her father. Her 

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Reader's Den book discussion for June will be A Thousand Splendid Suns.

According to the book jacket and his website, Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. He moved to the United States in 1980 with his family. He earned a medical 

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