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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Tears of Pearl

1. What did you know about the Ottoman Empire before reading Tears of Pearl?

2. Take a moment to discuss your perceptions about harems. How are they portrayed in popular film/television adaptations? In previous novels? In this novel? How, if at all, did this book inform you about harem culture and/or women’s rights in Victorian-era Turkey?

3. As the author noted in the Conversation, Victorian women faced extreme danger in childbirth, and most lost at least one child. How do you think this affected their views on motherhood? How does it affect your own?

4. How do women, in the past and today, find ways to be independent in restrictive societies?

5. Compare the ways in which Bezime and Perestu handle their power. Do you think Perestu will maintain her influence once she’s no longer valide?

6. Do you think the concubines would be better off outside the harem? Why or why not? Discuss the types of challenges they might face in the “real” world.

7. Why do you think modern readers enjoy novels about the past? How and when can a powerful piece of fiction be a history lesson in itself?

8. We are taught, as young readers, that every story has a “moral.” Is there a moral to Tears of Pearl? What can we learn about our world --- and ourselves --- from Emily’s adventure?

Tears of Pearl
by Tasha Alexander

  • Publication Date: September 28, 2010
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312383800
  • ISBN-13: 9780312383800