Reading Group Guide
1. By virtue of her actions and beliefs, Rose was effectively excised from the Jarrett's family history. How unusual do you think it was for women to suffer this fate?
2. Is the name of the Jarrett family business, "Dream Master," hopeful or ominous?
3. Before she became pregnant, Rose longed to become a priest, and Lucy loved the church despite the fact that "God seemed as silent as my father, as angry as my uncle, as distant as the portrait of my great-grandfather in the hall" (p. 74). In your view, what have been some consequences of denying women the priesthood and leadership roles within the church? How has this situation changed in recent decades. How does it persist? Do you feel this should change further? If so, how? If not, why not?
4. "Just knowing she had existed opened new and uneasy possibilities within my understanding of the story I thought I'd always known by heart. And I felt responsible, too" (p. 142). Why is Lucy so driven to uncover the truth about Rose? Is there a family story to which you are deeply attached? If yes, what is it and why? What happens if you try to imagine that story from the perspective of the various people involved, including those on the fringes?
5. Have you, like Lucy, ever revisited romance with an old flame while you were involved with someone new? Did you tell your new partner about your lapse? Did the encounter ultimately strengthen or weaken your new relationship?
6. Although Rose does not intend to leave Iris, her spontaneous response to the march for suffrage makes her an outcast and puts her relationship with her daughter at risk. If you are a parent, is there a cause so important to you that you would risk losing your own child in order to support it? Was the victory that Rose helped win ultimately worth her sacrifice?
7. Do you think it was Lucy's great-grandfather, Joseph, or her grandfather, Joseph, Jr., who hid the will? Why didn't he destroy it instead?
8. When they're viewing the stained-glass panel of Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar, the Reverend Suzi explains that she is not a fallen woman and that, in the Gospels, Jesus defends her. "Yet here we are, millennia later, and we don't tell her story. We don't even have her name" (p. 339). What do you imagine her story to be?
9. "Rose, I was sure, had acted out of love, yet for Iris her mother's absence had remained an unresolved sadness at the center of her life" (p. 354). Do you agree with Lucy about Rose's decision to keep her real identity a secret from Iris --- even after the latter was estranged from Joseph and Cora? What has changed culturally to make such a choice seem startling today?
10. Does Lucy make the right decision in choosing to stay with Yoshi rather than renewing her love affair with Keegan? Is a romantic relationship with someone from another culture easier or more difficult to maintain?
11. Towards the end of The Lake of Dreams, Edwards writes, "the earthquakes had eased --- the underwater island had finally formed" (p. 375). Discuss the ways in which Edwards employs images of the natural world throughout the novel.
12. For generations, most women have taken for granted the rights won them by the suffrage movement and the early pioneers of family planning. How did reading The Lake of Dreams alter your perception of these bygone women --- especially now that birth control and abortion are, once again, hotly debated topics?
The Lake of Dreams
- Publication Date: November 29, 2011
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books
- ISBN-10: 0143120360
- ISBN-13: 9780143120360