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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Sweetwater: A Novel

1. Grief plays an important part in Sweetwater. How does the heritage of loss move through the book, influencing the characters? How does it influence Theresa? Michael? Isabel?

2. How is the issue of responsibility, public and private, central to the book? How do the characters carry out their responsibilities to each other - Isabel to Michael, and Isabel to Paul? Charlotte and Douglas to their children? How do the characters carry out their larger responsibilities to society and the planet?

3. Why does Isabel marry Michael? Why does she marry Paul? What are her choices based on, and what do you think of the choices she makes?

4. The first chapter establishes the setting and introduces the characters. How is the book's plot foreshadowed here?

5. What role does the natural world play in the book? How does it mirror the emotional lives of the characters? What does the mountain lion represent?

6. Robinson is known as a consummate literary stylist. How does her language reflect the emotional climate of the action throughout the book?

7. The family plays an important part in this book. Who are the various families portrayed, and how do their attitudes and strategies differ?

8. Charlotte and Douglas are powerful characters. How do they affect their sons? How do they affect Isabel? How would you assess their marriage? Does it work?

9. Water plays a central role in the book. What are some of the pivotal scenes in which water is an important element? What does water represent?

10. Robinson's work has often been compared to that of Edith Wharton, whose lucid, elegant prose chronicled a darkly glittering world of passion and complexity. Why do you think this comparison has been made, and why do you agree or disagree with it?

Sweetwater: A Novel
by Roxana Robinson

  • Publication Date: March 8, 2005
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0812967348
  • ISBN-13: 9780812967340