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Book Group Info and Reader Guides
If your book club is reading any of my books and you would be interested in an author visit, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m available for book clubs in north central Florida region, as well as Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Pensacola, Mobile. You get the idea. In other parts of the country, I’m available via Skype.
Miss McGhee Readers’ Guide
Points of interest for discussion.
1. This book begins in 1948, and ends in 1965, covering the years of the civil rights struggle. One of the more interesting turning points is when Lila begins to see Annie as more than a housekeeper. In joining the fight for civil rights for black citizens, Lila begins to realize her own independence. Do you think you could have been as brave as Lila Dubose was? Did she show real courage, or do you believe that Lila plunged into a dangerous situation blindly, without considering the repercussions?
2. Regarding the idea of personal courage, how brave and/or foolish do you think Miss McGhee was in approaching Lila about her true feelings?
3. Mary McGhee was always more cautious than Lila about being found out. This caution often led to anger or frustration on Lila’s part. She thought it was a wondrous thing, having found love with a woman, and she felt truly grateful and excited about it. Given the time and place, do side with Mary or with Lila on the issue of hiding their relationship versus being open about it?
4. Miss McGhee always kept her expectations low, because of her experiences growing up on her own. Do you think she internalized her own kind of homophobia? Was she ashamed of being a lesbian?
5. Sammie is wild, loose, reckless. Her appearance at the beach cottage truly frightened Miss McGhee. It only takes one person to expose their relationship, and Mary knows that Sammie is willful enough to do that, just for fun. What did you think of her promise to do anything to protect Lila from whatever consequences came from being found out? Even to the point of leaving town, of rejoining Sammie? Is that a sacrifice you would make, or do you feel Mary is being too protective, assuming too much responsibility for those consequences, whatever they might be?
Readers’ Guide for What’s Best for Jane
This is a sequel to Miss McGhee, and begins ten years after the first book ends. The era of civil rights struggles are over. Much has changed. The town has changed too. Mary McGhee is alone now, in 1975, and she remains unchanged, punishing herself for Lila’s death, trying to push the blame on anyone else, and failing. She meets a little girl that changes her in a good many ways.
1. Do you think that Mary chose to take an interest in Jane as a way to absolve her guilt about Lila’s death? Do you think she cared about Jane because she was Lila’s niece, and resembled Lila a bit, or are her motives simpler than that? After living alone for a decade, might Mary enjoy human contact?
2. In what ways can you see that the small town of Myrtlewood has changed in the past decade? (If you haven’t read Miss McGhee, consider how you think a small Southern town might adjust after the violence of the civil rights movement had come and gone.) Were people’s attitudes different?
3. The character of Dr. Jack adds flavor and humor to many scenes in the book. Did you find that his observations about Mary were accurate?
4. What do you think of Henry’s relationship with Miss McGhee? As much as Mary likes to believe she has no friends and that the whole town shuns her, don’t you find that she has more friends than she knows?
5. Jimmy Jackson, the protagonist, seems to be unchanged by past history. Mary implies that he caused the accident that killed Lila. She hates him. But does she really? Maybe Jimmy is simply the easiest target Mary can find at which to aim all her anger and guilt. Do you think Jimmy shows some change by the end of the book?
6. How do you picture Jane’s life, going forward?