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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

With or Without You

1. Given Lyssa's struggle to conceive a child through IVF, do you feel that modern women take their fertility too much for granted? Why do we now leave starting a family to the point where our fertility is waning? Is it a good cultural change? Is it a woman's 'right' to have a child?

2. Lyssa is aware of how different the social structure in Nepal is compared to England. Comparing the way we approach procreation as opposed to the way it is in developing nations --- have children in our society become a desirable accessory rather than a crucial and integral part of our communities?

3. Lyssa's view is that our kids have a free and easy lifestyle, compared to the children of Nepal. How would our young children feel if they had to get up and work the fields before a two-hour walk to the nearest school for their education? Do our kids have it 'too easy' these days?

4. Lyssa is filled with admiration for villagers who cope without transport, electricity and most of the basic necessities of life that we take for granted. Yet is some of the stress that we now have in our lives self-inflicted? Could you return to a simpler way of life – doing without any domestic appliances and convenience foods? In the villages, Nepali people don't take anti-depressants, they don't have Weight-Watchers, there's no divorce and no cars. Are they worse off because of this? Lyssa wonders whether we in the developed Western world truly have a better quality of life than the people in Nepal who, materially, have so little and yet, spiritually, are so rich. Has consumerism made us lose sight of what really matters? Is our materialism out of control?

5. Lyssa heads to another country to cope with her loss. Is that an ideal way to escape your troubles? Does travel always broaden the mind? Does the ease and speed of airline travel create as many problems as it solves? Does it give us a greater understanding of other people's cultures.

6. Why does Jake have an affair? Can an affair ever be rationalized to the point where it's forgivable? Is some of his behaviour understandable under the circumstances?

7. Jake is appalled by his own behaviour and by Neve's, realising what he's turned his back on. His affair teaches him a lot about what he sees as important in life – loyalty, family values, children. Do you think men, in general, are hankering for a return to a more traditional domestic set-up?

8. Do you think that the dynamics of Lyssa's relationship with her mother and her sister have shaped her behaviour? Is her escape to Nepal more surprising as she's always been the one they have relied on?

9. It seems as though Jake's friend, Pip, takes Lyssa's side in her relationship dispute with Jake. Does disagreeing with a friend's relationship decisions make you a disloyal friend? Would you tell a friend if you knew their partner was having an affair?

10. Lyssa gives up the life she knows to join Dean in Nepal. Could a modern woman really turn her back on all the trappings of a successful, city life to settle in a remote village? What do you think would be the hardest aspect to deal with? Dean has nothing to give her but his heart – no salary, no pension fund, no health care plan. Is love really all that you need?

With or Without You
by Carole Matthews

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2005
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Red Dress Ink
  • ISBN-10: 0373895453
  • ISBN-13: 9780373895458