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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

1. Miss Julia remarks to Deputy Bates, "Don't you know it's always the wife's fault if a man strays? . . . There's always something the wife's doing, or not doing, that pushes a man over the brink. That's just the way it is." Do you think she believes this, or is she merely commenting on a societal prejudice? Either way, do you think Miss Julia is accurately predicting what the town will think of her husband's infidelity?

2. How well does Miss Julia know herself? Is she a reliable narrator? How does the author use point of view and tone to develop Julia's character?

3. What does Julia learn about her late husband as a result of his death? Why do you think her revelations about his personality have come so late in their relationship? What kind of person did Julia think she was married to? To what extent was Julia's ignorance about Lloyd's negative traits willful ignorance, and to what extent was she misled by him?

4. Ann B. Ross's portrait of Miss Julia's church and its leadership is far from flattering, yet religion plays a big part in Julia's life. Discuss Pastor Ledbetter's actions. Is there any difference between his deceptions and those of Brother Vern? What is Miss Julia looking for in religion that neither of these men can provide?

5. Why do you think Julia is so easily taken in by Dr. Fowler? Why is he so willing to believe that there is something psychologically depraved about her?

6. Julia goes from being terribly concerned about what the townspeople will think of her connection to Little Lloyd to taking a very defiant stance about the choices she has made. What is she risking by refusing to give in to the town's prejudice? What is she gaining?

7. How does Julia's relationship with Little Lloyd change over the course of the novel? What signs are we given of Julia's affection for the boy?

8. How do you think you would react in Miss Julia's situation? Would you take in Little Lloyd? Would you befriend Hazel Marie?

9. Why do you think Miss Julia develops such strong friendships with Lillian and Hazel Marie? What do these very different women have in common, and what does their affection for each other reveal about each of them?

10. What has Julia learned about life and love by the end of the novel? How have the obstacles she's overcome made her stronger and wiser?

11. Do you think Ross's portrait of a small Southern town is accurate? What aspects of Abbottsville and its denizens ring true to you? How does she use satire and slapstick to illustrate Abbottsville's more ridiculous qualities? How would Miss Julia's story have been different (if at all) had it taken place in your own community?

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
by Ann B. Ross

  • Publication Date: August 22, 2000
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0688177751
  • ISBN-13: 9780688177751