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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions


1. The novel is structured as dual storylines --- one from Nora’s perspective, and one from Lurie’s. How do these two stories differ, and in what ways are they similar? Did you connect more strongly to one story than the other, and if so, why?

2. How and when did you realize that Lurie was telling his part of the story to a camel named Burke? How would you characterize the relationship between Lurie and Burke? Why do you feel there was such a strong bond between the two of them?

3. What do you understand “the want” to be, that gets inside of Lurie? How is it driving him?

4. How would you characterize Nora and Emmett’s marriage? What makes their union a strong one, and what has challenged it?

5. Why is Nora unable to let go of Evelyn? How do you feel her relationship with Evelyn changed, from the novel’s beginning to its end?

6. Nora and Desma’s friendship is a bond between two independent, strong-willed women. Why does it go awry?

7. What is motivating Jolly on his journey? What is the basis of his and Lurie’s friendship and service?

8. How does the newspaper that Emmett and Nora own play a role in this story?

9. This novel is partly set during a time of tremendous drought. How does the author make you feel the weight of that as a reader? What elements of the story does it set in motion?

10. The novel’s epigraph says that “Only things inside time change,” not time itself. How do you interpret this, in relation to the novel?

by Téa Obreht

  • Publication Date: August 13, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Western
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 0812992865
  • ISBN-13: 9780812992861